What could not be learned from Christ alone is that God’s movement toward us occurs not in spite of our sin, but precisely because of it. Our sin is NECESSARY to reveal God’s mercy, and in an unexpected, fabulous shift, sin gives birth to grace.
The beatitudes, I believe, are given with the exact same point. They are about the character of the people of God (the “blessed” if you will). Each applies to all followers of Jesus. They are statements about who we are. The beatitudes are not encouragements or exhortations for us to act a certain way. They are statements about the reality of our blessed-ness.
It struck me that we should be applying the same principles to patience as we do to love. Patience is an attribute of God coming from his love (2 Peter 3:9), and therefore Satan has no part in it because he has no capacity for love. Satan is an impatient being, and impatience, as much as hate and unkindness, is a tool that he uses to destroy us and damage the work of God’s Kingdom.
Using these biblical texts and the insights of ancient church historians, we can learn about the early history of the Christian community in that city. A close study of early church history reveals both the challenges faced by the Ephesian church at the time and a living example of church leadership devoid of manmade hierarchies…
It is significant that Paul leaves this explicit command out of his instructions to husbands and wives, ESPECIALLY in a patriarchal cultural context in which it would have been expected and appropriate because in a legal sense wives WERE under their husband’s authority. This is actually quite subversive and radical because the expectation would have been a similar treatment, “wives obey your husbands who are in authority over you.” The fact that he didn’t do this is a big red light begging the question “Why?”
Galatians is not about salvation being accessible to everyone. There is never any question in the book whether or not Gentiles can become believers.
Recently, I have been studying through the Old Testament and am enjoying some of the details of the stories of the faith heroes I’ve known about my whole life. In particular, I am noticing the differences in how God interacted with different people. For example, with Joshua God is consistently steady and encouraging – “be strong and courageous!” With Moses, however, God sometimes seems… harsh.
We are human, and to put it simply, we like to be recognized for our efforts and roles. Ironically, we would often much prefer for others to say, “Look at what God did through her” rather simply than “Look at what God did.” I respect these priests who were more interested in who God was and what he did than how they were able to participate. Leaders have to learn to fade back into the background in order to emphasize who is behind any of the successes that we might have. This is truly the most significant thing we can do with our positions.
As I’ve begun sharing what it is that God has placed on my heart with other believers, most of the reaction I’ve received is neutral, “Oh, that’s nice. I’m glad someone is doing something about that.” Some reaction has been sadly negative, “I could never do that.” or worse, “I wouldn’t want to endanger my reputation by being involved with that kind of ministry.” I’ve waffled between joyful hope that God would use me to make a difference in a dirty reality and frustration over the feelings of isolation my pursuit has brought me to.
What is most humbling and beautiful about the training ground of the desert season is that it is designed to take us to a much deeper place of neediness in our relationship with God. We come to realize that we are shortsighted, powerless, and selfish. Against that backdrop, we experience the kindness of Christ that leads us to repentance and holy clingy-ness.