random thoughts and things from all saints youth cell groups

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Come to think of it.. what is sin??

Just found a hugely helpful quote when thinking about sin..

"In the Bible, peace (shalom in hebrew) means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight - a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires a joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be."

"This is important in our communication of the gospel to the postmodern individual (or any individual). Instead of focusing people on the fact that they are sinners (since they probably cannot relate to that term anyway), we can ask them if they believe: "are things the way they ought to be"?
An honest answer to this question is: No, things are not the way they ought to be. If they are interested in how things ought to be, then we have an open door to explain sin and the gospel message." taken from "A Mind Awake" by Chris Giammona

Are we scared to say "I don't know"?

We also spoke briefly last night about unanswered prayer and the pain that comes from it. Sometimes prayer does go unanswered. We've all been in situations where maybe someone close to us is very ill, for example. We've prayed fervently and constantly for God to heal them. And yet they don't get better. Something in us cries out for an answer to the "Why?" question in these circumstances. We may find ourselves thinking, either God can't do anything, or maybe doesn't want to do anything. It is right to feel confusion and to cry out to God at those times. Read the Psalms and see.

But, if our God is the God who showed himself to us in Jesus, then that puts things in a completely different light. If we're believing in a vague "god out there" of some form then we are indeed left with a god who doesn't care and even if he did couldn't do anything anyway. I could never ever believe in God if it wasn't for Jesus. In him, God steps down to Earth and lives with us. He experiences the whole range of human life and emotion and is not immune from pain, grief or bereavement. And ultimately he died an unbelievably horriffic death. He was spat on. Kicked. Mocked. Had nails and spears shoved into him and hung out to die. You cannot imagine a more hopeless scene. It was the day God died.

3 days later when everything changed. On that Sunday when Jesus passed through death and came out the other side, brought back to life. Out of utter despair and hopelessness came life and joy. And it is this, and this alone, that gives me hope.

So when we come with our "Why?" questions, it's OK to not know the answer. Instead, come to the cross of Jesus and weep. Come to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who knows exaclty what your pain is like, and he will hold you, his child, and sustain you in all your questions and doubts, and say, "Sunday's coming". Resurrection is coming. This is neither a God who doesn't care, nor a God who can't do anything. In fact quite the opposite. In Jesus, we see God as the One who loves us more than we could ever dream, and has done all that is necessary for all the brokenness of this world to be put right at the cost of his own life! We await, with real and expectant hope, the day when that victory is brought to completion.

"Your Kingdom Come".

Please feel free to post comments.

All sin the same?

Just going to put some stuff up that came out of last nights Word. We touched on lots of very difficult questions, and I feel that some of you may be feeling dissatisfied with some of the conclusions of our discussions. And that's OK. I've just picked up on this issue of whether all sin is the same because it came up last night a couple of times.

First off, all sin is serious. From a shoplifter, to a murderer all sin is serious in God's eyes. All sin requires justice and grieves God. But, they are certainly not all the same in consequence. You cannot compare the consequences of robbing a belt from Topshop to taking someones life! So, there are sins that are more serious than others in that way.

What do people think? Feel free to post comments.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Just something to amuse you if you're bored of revision!

"Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"

OK, take a deep breath. You'll need it.

"Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" John 1: 29

Confusingly, Jesus is also called the "Lion of Judah" in Revelation 5:5. Is John having a senior moment here?! (John's gospel and Revelation were written by the same person, and he was knocking on by the time he wrote!)

Well not really.

Lambs in the OT were offered as sacrifices for the sins of the people of God. If you want to find out all the gory details have a read of Leviticus to find out all about it. But essentially, all through the Bible, we see that the outworking of sin, is always death. Sin leads to death. Sin distorts, twists and destoys God's good creation always ending in death and judgement. Sin has the whole of creation caught in its grip, and the whole of creation, along with us, according to the Bible is longing for the day when it will be set free! Like a never ending winter, where nothing grows, where everything is dead and dormant and no life or light can get a look in. And we know what sin is like, because we only have to look inside ourselves to see it. Our hearts are endless sources of hate, lies, deceit and malice.

What can we do?

People try all sorts of things to try and sort out the mess that our hearts, and consequently the world are in. Some try religion. They try and do things that will make God favourable to them. They try and do things which will change their hearts. They try and do things. Some try education. The more enlightened we are, the better we'll become. Some say there's nothing that can be done, so lets all just eat, drink and be merry and stuff everyone else. Some say it's only cooperation beween humans that will solve anything. And a million other proposed solution. All things we must do. Yet is all hopelessly inadequate.

Yet, here's John saying "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

Here is good news at last! Someone who can take away the sin and set things right!

Here is the ultimate lamb, the one to whom every Old Testament was simply a dim, and imperfect picture of. God in Christ reconciling the world to himself, making all things new, and taking away the sin of the world. Jesus not only absorbs our sin into himself and bears its punishment, but the effects of sin in the whole of creation. The Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world" and not as we so often read just "the people of the world".

The eternal purpose of God in Christ, is not to steal off a bunch of disembodied souls to heaven after death, but here and now to be renewing and restoring people, communities and the whole world, bringing life from death, hope from hopelessness and forgiveness from judgement until that great and glorious day God finally and fully answers the Lords prayer that "Your Kingdom come on Earth, as it is in heaven" and we might be lost in wonder, love and praise for the Lamb seated on the throne.

And all possible, because the Lamb of God, who is the Lion of Judah came and took away the sin of the world.

Let's give the last word to Jonathan Edwards..

"And here is not only infinite strength and infinite worthiness, but infinite condescension, and love and mercy, as great as power and dignity... Here is infinite grace and gentleness to invite and embolden a poor, unworthy, fearful soul to come to it. If Christ accepts of you, you need not fear but that you will be safe, for he is a strong Lion for your defense. And if you come, you need not fear but that you shall be accepted, for he is like a Lamb to all that come to him, and receives then with infinite grace and tenderness."