Friday, October 24, 2008

Made Free

Atheists in London, England have begun a campaign of sharing their views to the public through the use of advertising on the side of those cute, red, double-decker buses. Their message: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." I find their message odd and not just because I believe there is God. Nor do I find it odd because atheists are expressing themselves... go right ahead. What I find odd is that they seem to assume that the opposite is true if there is a God. If there is a God then you should be worrying and should not enjoy life.

The message of Christianity is not to stop enjoying life or to worry. Actually the Christian message is one of liberation. It's bus slogan should be: "God is love. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life through loving others." But somehow that message has been missed.

"Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, 'If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free (John 8:31-32).'" There is liberation in the Christian message. It is not a message of worry. It is not a message of misery. Now when an atheist says "enjoy life" my first thought is that he/she may mean having a lot of stuff and doing fun things and thinking primarily of yourself. But that doesn't necessarily need to be the case. But I do know that the Christian gospel reveals to us that real enjoyment in life comes through love of others... not stuff or selfishness. Experience tells most people that this is indeed truth.

But what about this worry stuff? Being created by a loving God, who offers us salvation through the Messiah is the biggest release from worry humans have ever been given. If there is no God, as the atheists profess, then its time to worry because it means "dog-eat-dog" laws of nature are what life is all about and it's "every man for himself."

Wonderfully God provides for our needs and calls us to be bold in finding the deep, wonderful meaning in life that comes through love and service. Through faith you know the truth, and the truth has made you free. If this gospel of Christ is still hidden from the public then its about time we buy some advertising space on the side of buses and loudly proclaim:

Christ frees you from sin and death. Now stop worrying and enjoy life by loving others.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

I Regard Them as Rubbish

If anyone else had reason to be confident in winning it all in 2008, the Cubs had more: best record in the National League, home field advantage at Wrigley Field, with all those fans; a team of destiny; as for their pitching, some of the best; as for hitting, power up and down the lineup; as for beating any curses with interfaith blessings, covered. Yet whatever gains they made, this morning we can all regard them as loss because of the Dodgers. (Based on Philippians 3:4b-8)

They thought they had all their bases covered. "It's going to happen" actually meant something. This year they did have the power and the speed: It didn't just sound good in a song. They also had the pitching: A starter who pitched a no-hitter; another from Oakland who was lights out; and a former mediocre closer now pitching like Cy Young. And topping all of that, this year the Cubs were not going to let any curses stop them.

Oh yes the Cub curses: Billy Goat, Black Cat, and Bartman. The Bartman ball has been blown into smithereens. Goats are always welcome at Wrigley now. Shea Stadium, home of the Black Cat, has hosted its last baseball game. But that wasn't enough, Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney even brought in his friend Rev. James Greanias to perform a blessing of the Cubs dugout before the first game of the NLDS against the Dodgers this past Wednesday. Now they have all their bases covered, right? They certainly have earned their way into baseball heaven now, right? Hmmmmm...

Before he knew Christ the Apostle Paul thought he had all his bases covered too. He was a Pharisee all-star. He was born in the right family. He persecuted the right people. He followed God's law to the letter. Surely he was righteous in God's eye. Ahhhh... But learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ taught him that he was all wrong. Righteous is not found through a process of making sure you doing all things correctly, but actually righteous comes throug faith alone. All things that were so important to him before were now exposes as mere trash... rubbish... because they distracted him from what really mattered. The way we was before he neither loved God nor his neighbor as himself... He simply loved himself.

When Cubs manager Lou Piniella heard from reporters that a priest had be brought in to bless the Cubs' dugout he was confused. He doesn't believe in the cruses and would not want to acknowledge the mythical Cubs curses through another dumb stunt. He wisely said, "God doesn't care about a baseball game. But, you know, this thing here about the holy water, I didn't have anything to do with it. I didn't even know about [the curse removal]. No, I wouldn't do that... There's no curses here."

I have no idea if Lou is a man of faith or not... But I'm certain that he and Paul would get along real well. God does not care about baseball. And I don't expect that God would grant a stunt like pouring "holy water" all over Wrigley with his blessing. Over and over again in the Old Testament God reveals that he takes no delight in sacrifices, but instead desires people's hearts... hearts that are faithful... hearts that obey him.

So now, as we press on in our lives of faith, lets learn a thing or two from both Paul and Lou. From Lou, let's remember to keep our priorities straight and never for one second let the popular opinions of the masses convince us that God actual cares about baseball champions.

And from Paul lets remember what our goal is as we live this life of faith: that is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection. There is nothing we can do and there are no bases that need to be covered in order for us to gain salvation because Christ Jesus has already made us his own. Therefore how we live our lives now is a response to that gift. We live by faith.

After losing the first two games of their five game series with Los Angeles someone realized that a base was left uncovered in the curse fighting front. A Catholic blessing was not enough. So on Saturday about a 100 Muslims gathered outside of Wrigley Field to pray for Allah to change the team's dim fortunes. An Islamic scholar was asked what he thought of such an event, and he responded by saying that seeking Allah's intervention is usually reserved for serious concerns such as bringing rain to a drought, "Usually Muslims do not do that for things which are, I would say, morally neutral, and which do not have any element of human suffering."

Ah yes... rubbish indeed. It's enough to turn someone into Cardinals fan. Pushing aside those distractions let's "press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14)." Let's find meaning in our lives through faith and not through rubbish.