Archive

Tag Archives: God

From J.D. Payne:

The Incarnation is the most apostolic act recorded in the Bible. We often do not equate such an act with Christmas. We get caught up in the baby, decorations, gifts, and traditions. But here we have God the Father sending God the Son to fulfill the mission of God.

Merry Christmas.

Advertisements

Image

Most of us want our lives to matter, but many of us don’t know where to start. I recently shared my heart with The Well about what I believe God has called me to do. My prayer is for everyone to find their own purpose which coincides with Christ’s mission in His community.

Listen to it here.

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.

-A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

In Part 1, I introduced the topic of spiritual violence using the life of John the Baptist as our prime example. In this post I’d like to give a few more examples from the pages of Scripture of people who, in their own way and their own time, lived lives that we spiritually violent.

First, let’s consider a hero of the faith from the Old Testament. King David was the simple shepherd boy who God referred to as the man after His own heart. As he sought God on those sprawling hills near Bethlehem, he became a diligent worshiper with the early skills of a leader preparing to care for the Lord’s nation. He was such a devoted servant that he sought to put comfort and convenience aside in order that God would be glorified. In Psalm 132, David was remembered to have said, “Surely I will not go into the chamber of my house, Or go up to the comfort of my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes Or slumber to my eyelids, Until I find a place for the LORD, A dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob” (v. 3-5). This posture made David a man who embraced spiritual violence to serve God with all of his being.

Next, let’s consider the Apostle Paul. We all know Paul as the man who, after a radical conversion experience, gave up all of his social and religious clout to follow Jesus and spread the Gospel to the nations. If that weren’t enough to qualify as violent, you can look at the list of things he endured in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 to take the message abroad. To that list, Paul added a qualifier in Philippians 3:13-14 when he said, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” In other words, all the good work that had been done, as well as all the bad things that occurred (consider again the list), Paul hit delete. He constantly wiped the slate clean to propel himself further into the grace and love of Jesus.

Lastly, we will consider the simple example of Mary of Bethany. In John 12:1-7, the story is told of how Mary anointed Jesus for burial. The oil of spikenard she used was worth an entire year’s salary, and she poured it out on Him without hesitation or regard to the disciples’ objections. All of her financial security and hope for a future–perhaps even a husband–was represented in the vial. Unfortunately, we don’t have time or space to consider all these heroes of spiritual violence, but you can always turn to Hebrews 11 to learn glean from their examples.

And don’t forget to consider the life and example of the One who gave it all for us in the most extravagant act of holy violence–Christ Jesus.

Just over a week ago at The Well I shared briefly on the topic of spiritual violence. It was just enough to evoke a few questions and comments, so I’d like to elaborate a bit on the topic.

The verse I quoted to begin the discussion was Matthew 11:12:  “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (NKJV). Interesting, don’t you think? Here we find Jesus isolating something about John the Baptist that caught Jesus’ attention enough to merit His commentary. What was it that Jesus was saying here?

Just before He says what He does in verse 12, He says something that is so incredible that it’s hardly imaginable. Jesus says in verse 11, “Among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist.” In other words, of all the humans that have ever lived (except Himself, of course), John is the greatest of them all.

What made John the Baptist so great? Why did heaven “suffer violence” because of him? What does it mean to suffer violence anyway?

The first thing we can rule out is that heaven can be somehow injured because something humans can do. This isn’t suffering that we ordinarily think of. It’s more like “undergoes” or “puts up with.” Heaven is affected, for sure, but not in a negative way.

Next, the violence done isn’t physical violence. We don’t have a record of John hurting anyone. In fact, all the hurtin’ was put on him, in the end. So, “violence” is referring to a forceful act, but no animals have been harmed in its production.

What we’re left with is a picture of John the Baptist in the wilderness, fasting and praying, living a simple lifestyle, waiting on the voice of God. He was the last of the Old Testament prophets whose job it was to proclaim the coming of the Messiah. And, in all that, he got the attention of heaven. John the Baptist was a force to be reckoned with because of his faithful lifestyle and his obedience that ran right up until the end of his life. He said that he was a friend of the Bridegroom and because he heard the voice of the Bridegroom, he was full of joy (John 3:29). And he knew that as Jesus’ life and ministry increased, his job would be to fade to the background to put a brighter spotlight on Him (John 3:30). He is a picture of those who are completely sold out to the kingdom and its King and would do anything to bring honor and glory to Him. And that’s something that gets heaven’s attention.

Next, we’ll develop this a bit more and talk about others in Scriptures who embodied this reality along with John the Baptist.

There’s this story in Scripture of David, while enjoying the peace and security of a king who is faithfully following God, sitting around and he wonders aloud if he can show kindness to one of the family members of a fallen friend.

Before that, some back story.

David grew up ignored and slighted by his seven older brothers. He was forgotten at the family feast when Samuel came to visit. (The prophet Samuel was the #2 most important guy in the country. It’s like the VP coming to dinner and your dad forget to call you in from slopping the pigs.) Anointed there as the next king, he gets called into employment by the man he is to replace, Saul. Then his to-be ex-boss tries to kill him. A lot.

David finds a friend in the king’s son, Jonathan, who aids and abets him as he runs from hideout to hideout trying to avoid Saul and his not-so-merry men.

Now, along with his time slopping pigs–tending sheep, actually–David has plenty of time to pray. And pray. And clarify some things with God. He has a lot of things to be upset about. Betrayal, family rivalry, being the last one picked for kickball, all that stuff.

But David is different. Instead of spending his time worrying about how to get back at people, he spends his time in worship. In prayer. In adoration of God.

And God does something amazing.

As David is praying and worshiping and adoring, God is changing his emotional chemistry. God, through Samuel in the beginning, calls David a man after His own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). He heard God in that secret time affirming and encouraging him.

And David believed God.

David, after messing up big time and almost dying in a mutiny, tells everyone who will listen, “He delivered me because He delighted in me” (Ps. 18:19).

Did you hear that? God rescued David because He liked him. And David even thought that was ok to say out loud. To other people.

And then God does something even more amazing.

The way David knew God felt about him, and the way he was beginning to think about himself, God transferred those feelings to other people. “They are the excellent ones, in whom my heart delights” (Ps. 16:3).

David’s heart delighted in others? In the way God’s heart delighted in him? (That sort of sounds like Matthew 22 where Jesus says the first and greatest commandment is to love God, and the second is to love others as you love yourself).

So back to the original story, where David is wondering aloud (you can find it in 2 Sam. 9). Because Jonathan was such a good friend, David is wanting to bless someone from his family. Not because there’s a law that says he has to. Not because his wife(s) talked him into it. And not because someone said it would be a good idea.

He does it out of the overflow of love he has been given from God. He reaches into his own creative goodness that’s been placed there from God’s Spirit and comes out with a blessing.

And so a man named Mephibosheth was chosen to be the recipient of David’s kindness. He was one of Jonathan’s surviving sons who had been injured as a boy, and still couldn’t walk completely. And on that day it was declared that, for the rest of his life, he would eat with the king at his table and never been in need of anything ever again.

David is a great of someone receiving the love of God and it moving them so much that they can’t help but show that love to others. In tangible ways, and in ways that cost them something.

Love God. Love others. It’s the love that we all want to know. The love that heals the brokenhearted, especially when the brokenhearted is us.

This is a four-part series by Allen Hood called The Playfulness of God.  Enjoy.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

%d bloggers like this: