Archive for April, 2010

Where is your God?

My good friend Rael Mason wrote a poem, here’s the fruit of his labours (It’s based on Psalm 42 & 43)…

Lessons from Absalom

‘In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him.’ (2 Sam 14:25)

Quiet time this morning was in 2 Samuel 14, and though it is an odd chapter in some ways, it heeds some vital warnings in the person of Absalom (a murderer in Ch 13)… here’s an extract Dale Ralph Davis’ fantastic commentary;

‘Matthew Henry’s observations on this Absalom note are both concise and comprehensive:

All that is here said of Absalom is,

  1. That he was a very handsome man…
  2. That he had a very fine head of hair…
  3. That his family began to be built up…

Henry aptly remarks, ‘Nothing is said of his wisdom and piety.’ Is this leadership?

Our times insist on style over substance, cosmetics over content, manner over matter. It hardly surprises us that a president who cultivated a public image of warm, devoted family life would also, with his secret service agents, plod the tunnels under New York’s streets, flashlights in hand, on the way to a waiting sexual liaison in another hotel or apartment; nor are we surprised to learn that this was a pattern from his first day in office.

Such image-reality gaps have been the case among political leaders for centuries, but, as Jesus says to his church, ‘It is not to be like that among you’ (Mark 10:43). Yet it seems it is. Douglas Webster describes the ‘Fortune 500 pastors’ desired for contemporary American congregations as being

winsome, charismatic, executive like pastors who exude warmth and success. Known more for their humor than for their spirituality, today’s market-sensitive pastors are relationally savvy… Instead of eliciting deep feelings of guilt as the old revivalists did, these pastors lift the spirit, promote optimism and make people feel good about themselves.

By contrast, when listing some of the standards for elders in the church, the apostle stresses character over charisma and personal godliness over public giftedness (1 Tim 3:1-17). Woe to the church that falls into the Absalom trap.

Once Absalom is back (v.24) he dominates the narrative. We read of his appearance (vv25-27), his antics (vv28-32a), his daring (v32b). Absalom takes over the narrative just as he will take over the kingdom.’

Scandalous

Evangelical Christians have often been criticised for their over-the-top view on sin. But in reality, it is not necessarily the promotion of the importance of sin (though it is a fundamental of the Christian faith) that evangelicals intend to emphasise, but the forgiveness of sin, which is at the heart of the Christian gospel.

And it seems fitting that on this Easter weekend, that Christ’s resurrection is key in this most wonderful truth.

It’s scandalous, absolutely scandalous that an unholy person can be put right with God. But that is the wonder of grace. The Bible clearly teaches that the resurrection of Christ from the dead proves the forgiveness of sin.

(See 1 Corinthians 15:12-16 and Romans 4:25)

Sinful humanity put Jesus on the cross, subjecting him to an excruciating physical death and an even more horrific spiritual death as he drank the full cup of God’s wrath which we deserve. But he conquered death, and didn’t come after those who killed him for revenge but rather pours out his forgiveness freely to those who recognise their sin and submit to Him as Lord and Saviour.

There is no greater love than this! Thank you Jesus for loving a wretch like me!