Why Is a Love Story Told as a Tale of Horror?

This morning I was watching Outside the Lines on ESPN as I do most Sunday mornings before going to church. The story this morning was about Tim Tebow and his outspokenness of his faith. My dad happened to be watching with me since he had come town to for the Baylor – SFA game. My dad is not a Christian. He was letting me know about how he did not like how Tebow had the Bible verses on his eye liners. Because of how outspoken Tebow is, my dad is not a fan. Then they also showed a clip of Tebow preaching. In the clip Tebow was giving the standard line of if you do not accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior you are going to Hell. This approach more than anything else in the story got to thinking about how we present to Good News of the coming Kingdom. The story is a love story of God through Jesus pursuing reconciliation, a relationship. Essentially it is a love story. Yet when people preach the message as Tebow did it does not sound like a love story, it sounds like a tale of horror. God is so angry with you that God is going to throw you in Hell, unless you accept God’s son who was brutally murdered. The love and grace is underplayed while the fear and pain is overplayed. I think this is the wrong approach to spreading the Good News. Shouldn’t the message sound good instead of bad. One might argue that well isn’t escaping Hell good news? It can be but what is the motivation for them believing in this telling, to escape Hell or because they have found a meaningful relationship with Christ. Jesus is not a get out of Hell free card. We seek a relationship with God because we love God and wish to be reconciled just as God wishes to be reconciled to us. This fire and brimstone approach fails utterly at this aspect, which is, in my opinion, the most important. If escaping Hell, is the reason you claim to have a relationship with God, you may want to reexamine if there is a real relationship there.

I was thinking about this while we were singing at church. I thought, ‘I think this might be a good topic to blog about.’ Little did I know that the sermon was going to have a similar vibe. The sermon was on Matthew 20:1-16. Josh explained that Heaven may be too graceful. God may allow for people we do not want to be in Heaven. Some people who are assured they are going to Heaven may think twice about going if they knew who God was willing to show grace and mercy to and allow into Heaven. He then showed this picture, which I think is the best example of God’s unending grace…

How many people are accepting of this picture? But isn’t this what Jesus came to teach us. To pray for our enemies, to be servants to the world. He did say be servants of those who you like? God’s grace abounds further than we can imagine. God wishes for one and all to come and be reconciled, including Osama bin Laden. I believe this extends throughout eternity. Jesus’ death was a never ending invitation to be reconciled. I do not pretend to know why sin and evil were allowed to come into being, my best guess is it is a true consequence of free will. I particularly like the idea of Hell being locked from the inside, meaning those ‘trapped’ are free to leave. C. S. Lewis deals with this notion his book The Great Divorce, I highly recommend it.

So would you being willing to live in a Heaven that included Osama bin Laden, Hitler, Casey Anthony, etc.? I think God is willing and has been willing to extend them an invitation. What is your motivation for wanting to be in Heaven, to escape Hell or because you believe in a God who wishes for reconciliation with all the earth. One reason I believe God is willing to pursue this reconciliation for all eternity, is this one haunting question… Can Heaven be heaven if your parent or child was not there? The Good News is that God is unveiling God’s Kingdom and the invitation has been extended to all. This is what we should be preaching, the invitation to the Kingdom, to reconciliation, not a get out of Hell free card. The invitation is not for our sole benefit, it is a reconciliation of the a fallen world to God.

Advertisements

Psalms, Life Change Series review

Psalms, in the Life Change Series by NavPress, is Bible study for individuals and can be used in a group setting as well. This study takes several Psalms per lesson, grouped by similar themes, and asks soul searching question to help the reader think about their own life in light of the Psalm’s teaching. In the margins, the study suggests more ways to interact with the Psalms in different settings.

This study for what I can tell, as I did not do all of it but sampled several lessons for this review, is not the most in depth scripturally but I am also a seminary student. I think for the average church goer this study is asking more than they normally are willing to give, which is good. The reader needs to engage more throughly with their own life’s in light of the Psalms. The Psalms are great for doing some soul searching. I would like to comment though that the way this study is conducted will not work well with over parts of scripture though, so do not try them there, but work great for the Psalms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

St. Francis

St. Francis is fifth on the list.St Francis may seem an odd choice for my collection but I felt his stance on life merited him a spot. (It also helps I just finished a book about him and am three-fourths the way through another.) St Francis came from a wealthy family but forsook his wealth after a failed career as a knight and an active young life. He and then a few friends wrote a rule and got approval from the pope. His rule requires that a member gives up all possessions. So Francis may not have been a recognized apologetic but I think through his actions he defends the true faith.

The Kingdom Life, a review

The Kingdom Life edited by Alan Andrews explores the practical theology of spiritual formation.  It has contributions from multiple authors, including Dallas Willard. They (TACT) broke spiritual formation into two parts process and theological. The books begins with the seven process elements and concludes with the three theological elements.

I found most of the chapters/elements thoughtful and challenging. However, a few of them seemed to have too much overlap and relied too heavily on one source. Two recurring sources were Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines and Thomas á Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ. One or two chapters just seemed like the author’s take on these sources and had little of their own information. The authors also agreed not to give specific steps on spiritual formation because it will be different for every church and person however, I would have liked a few more examples than those given. Finally, I would have started with the theological elements first, especially with the Bible in Spiritual Formation, instead of it being the last chapter. To me it is better to start off biblically and then move from there. Despite these minor issues, I think a reader of this book will be challenged, the epilogue was especially challenging and helpful conclusion to this work.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”