Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A short list of things that make the Pacific Northwest unique to me

Mars Hill
Washington Mutual

A short list for consideration. There is some kind of common thread here but I can't quite identify what it is. Somehow these seem unique to the NW despite their national or international recognition.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

raising up the cross to the diminishment of joy, another post Good Friday reflection

We must remember that Christ rising from the dead is not just life from death for us but is the promise of life from death for all of creation. There are times when I believe atheists are right to say Christians often operate under the delusion of thinking everything is about them. Despite our talk of the Cross there can be too much emphasis on how we as sinners killed baby Jesus when the message of good news is that Christ is king.

We dare not suppose this is some kind of "liberal" distraction from substitionary atonement at the expense of recognizing the great mystery of the good news, news that is good not merely for us as individuals or for us as the human race but for the whole cosmos. "Behold I make all things new" doesn't just refer to you or me, it refers to the whole of creation. We cannot imagine that the me-and-Jesus paradigm of spirituality is all there is to "the joy set before Him" when we consider that for the joy set before Him Christ embraced the Cross, scorning its shame. The renewal and restoration of the cosmos and the salvation of those who through sin brought death to themselves and the created world is a pretty big dose of joy.

The flip slide of "your suffering is nothing compared to the suffering of Christ" (which is in some sense obviously true since the suffering of God the Son as a man is a mystery we cannot grasp, which does not make it any more suitable for a "quit yer bitchin" rejoinder for its mystery) is to imagine a joy that is too small, a joy that would not be so precious that it would be worth Christ's own blood and death and also so great that He would scorn death on the Cross and EMBRACE it's shame! Does your personal sense of peace and renewal and happiness sound like that? Does the happiness and growth of your church sound like that? Does having a girlfriend or boyfriend sound like that? Does not living in someone else's home because you're "independent" sound like that? Does being published sound like that? Does your kid getting straight A's in grade school sound like that? Does your having a successful ministry sound like that? Does your favorite political candidate winning public office sound like that? No, of course not.

Does the renewal of the cosmos and its liberation from the spiritual and physical death sin has ravaged it with and the restoration of all thing in, through, and for the one true God sound like it? Now we're talking a joy so great that it makes Christ's embrace of the Cross as though it were nothing in comparison.

Indeed, if we use the Cross to belittle the suffering of others might we accidentally belittle the joy for which Christ was willing to embrace the Cross? Easily, because it is beyond our imagination to truly grasp what Christ will inaugurate at His return when He makes all things new and when we become like Him because we will see Him as He is.