Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Gospel is About God, Not Us

And that is good news.

Last Sunday night at Peppers in Broad Ripple, at Pub Theology, the topic was "why do bad things happen to good people." A familiar one, and a very identifiable one. During the text message version of Q & A time at the end (which is always the best part), Daron Earlewine who leads it each week, completely took me aback by calling me out and asking if I would help him and another member of the band field the questions, that would no doubt be hard. Not my comfort zone, but I obviously wasn't going to say no. Later, a friend would tell me that if I really wanted street cred in a bar environment with many people who had little experience with church or God, that I needed to lose the glasses, get some ink (tattoo), and wear skinny jeans. Not likely, but duly noted.

I didn't say much, but definitely could have. God has not yet given me the discernment on how to speak the unchanging and eternal message of the gospel in a bar. But maybe he is working on that? In short, my answer to the general question of why do bad things happen to good people (or any people), would be something like this: God feels about sin the way we feel about the suffering in our lives. In other words, the same anger, sadness, and confusion we feel when something terrible happens to us or someone we love, is how God feels towards our sin. Even the really horrible stuff. Sin is that bad (actually its worse). But in Jesus Christ, we see God, who not only lived a sinless life that we could never live, but he died, in our place, and endured the most powerful and profound suffering, which we could never endure, so that we would not have to. And he rose from the dead assuring the forgiveness that he promises and the freedom from all kinds of sin and suffering that we will experience in time. For now, these light and momentary afflictions are producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. And all of that is not just so that we can feel better (though we can, and do), but so that God can get the ultimate glory and we can forever praise the glory of his grace, seen in the gospel, which is the whole point of the universe.

Next time, hopefully, if given the opportunity, I will say something to that effect - in a bar, or wherever.

"God has done everything: election, predestination, creation, adoption, manifestations of wrath, power, justice, wisdom – all of it – to solidify and intensify your praise for the glory of His grace."

– John Piper, Ephesians 1

"Lord, I'd like to start by saying I can hate where I'm at
When this life is hard and situations take me aback
The fight is hard and I can hardly face it in fact
In life it's hard to get up like a bar with weights that's attached
It really seems the situations that I'm facing is wack
I been awakened but now I'm feeling forsaken and trapped
With no hope and I'm broken open for Satan to trap
I been bothered since You Father put this weight on my back
So please erase it's wack, cause when this pain it attacks
My weakness is at it's peak and I'm feeling strained and I lack
The trust in You I struggle through the ways that I should come to You
Lord, what am I gonna do? It's true this pain it distracts
But I see my only hope when my backs on the ropes
Is in You so I read through the facts that You wrote
The pain may fade away, but if that's my only hope
Then You don't get the glory alone not even close

Lord, it may get better but it may not
So when I pray God, I pray I
Would trust You whether or not the pain stops
So when the the pain falls, coming down like rain drops
I just gotta cling to You

Heavenly Father, in Your Word You say we can build
Because of Jesus and the blood that He graciously spilled
Lord, I thank You for real, cause my Dad's always there
I can cast all my cares plus the weight that I feel
My situation is ill, I ain't asking to be making a mill
But is all my money for paying my bills?
It gets crazier still, my soul's on dangerous hills
A target for the world, flesh, and Satan aiming to kill
While the wicked who be hating your will
Sit by the lake as they chill, taking in sensational thrills
Lord, Your Son I admire, He's the one I desire
I'll run through the fire if You say it's Your will
But at times it's hard to hear You, the world doesn't fear You
Lord, give me a clear view Your face is concealed
Help me to be patient until Your grace is revealed
And in the mean time, between time, be praising You still

Lord, it may get better but it may not
So when I pray God, I pray I
Would trust You whether or not the pain stops
So when the the pain falls, coming down like rain drops
I just gotta cling to You

Lord, You know I'm hoping that my situation will switch
That You'll show me You're amazing by erasing it quick
But I've noticed that my hope was in You changing it quick
Instead of knowing You're enough Lord I was chasing Your gifts
But then I opened up Your text and looked at David and them
Their situations was grim, but it ain't change them within
They prayed You'd take it away but sought Your face in the end
And found comfort in Your justice and the grace You extend
So in this life full of strife if my days get grayer
I'm content with the fact that You'll stay my Savior
No change in my King, man, it ain't no greater
Comfort than what's found in You that's so major."

- Cling to You, Trip Lee and Shai Linne

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Gospel is Relevant!

I have good news for Kanye, who almost cried on the Jay Leno show a couple weeks ago and is taking time off to "analyze how he's going to make it through this life and improve", and David Letterman, who through nervous joking admitted to his confrontation with (some of) the frightening consequences of his mistakes. I wanted to pass it along. I hope they see it:

God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. That while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

That's all. By the way, it is good news for all of us too.