Forgiveness: An Open Letter

Remember back to a time when you had gotten the worse sunburn that you can ever imagine getting in your whole life. Remember the sting, and how no matter how much Aloe you applied it was like a drop of water in a desert in the moment of agony. Then the skin starts to peel, and there is this exposed new skin that starts to dry, and feel more like sand paper, and in some cases the burn was so bad that your skin still burned. Now imagine that dry brittle skin doesn’t go away because there is this one brand of Aloe that you need to take in order for the pain to go away this sounds too good to be true right?

Sign me up for a cure all to sunburn, or sunblock. This is how unforgiveness plays out our hearts as a metaphorical look at the condition we leave ourselves in as we hold on to pain, grudges, hurt, etc. We become this baron dried up plot of skin, or maybe land would be a better analogy as the dust bowl in the 1920’s would be another good look considering the agricultural themes the Bible carries for us. One of the chief things that the Lord Jesus asked me to do when I professed faith in him was first to forgive my earthly father for what at the time I considered unspeakable atrocities. This was something that I hung  on to for years not wanting to forgive him for anything he said, did, or didn’t do as these were now all things I couldn’t control. This made life very plain, horizontal, and baron with harsh conditions like a harsh sunburn, dried skin, or a desert.

Do you believe that there is any rest in a desert?

We may come to this realization at some point in our lives that our lives are ours, and we can decide things like outcome, and fate, and how others are remembered. While there are momentary things can alter perception, and you may believe that about yourselves, and you are the master of your own destiny. But friends this is just the here and now when Israel wandered through the desert in the pentateuch there was no rest in Israel’s disobedience, and there were no heroes of the day that mapped out their best lives now. God led, directed, and mastered as well as provided, and established his people as he establishes us today.

What is unforgiveness? Popular Blink-182 song ‘Wildfire’ lyrics say this:

“I don’t forget
I don’t forgive
I’ll never change the way I live
I always fought the urge to fall in line
I turned my back on all the rules
I’ll never heed the king of fools
I’ll never lead the perfect kind of life.”

This is a perfect example of the dialogue of thought that manifests as unforgiveness or unrepentanted as this hostility boils out of our hearts as this were all defilement of humanity comes from the heart (Matthew 15:11). This is generational, and transcultural in nature so don’t think your aggressor is an anomaly as in the eternal view of things humanity as a whole is the anomaly when it relates to God who is holy and thus set apart from relating to us in this way. Unforgiveness is also a lifestyle as seen in the lyrics above this comes from years of hardness, rebellion, and sin that has dried in the heart like cement as this is what becomes of hoarders of forgiveness we become what we don’t want. We become like our aggressors, bitter, and often alone and apart from God. This is counter intuitive to those who do believe because this defies love which is the eternal currency of Christianity John 3:16, John 13, as it prevents the eventual  flow of those whom Christ calls into himself because he laid his life down in love to redeem, and love a once lost humanity forever.

Forgiveness also kills pride and in the West we are taught to be bigger, and bigger because we are more powerful. Corporate America demonstrates this ideology in the culture that they cultivate in the workplace we are groomed on all fronts to be winners at all costs in everything we do. There is no room for sorry in this closed system or forgiveness in terms with this culture which is why we demonstrate such fear, and hostility because it’s always easier to fight back, keep moving, or get revenge than it is to eat the costs of our offenses. It would then make more sense because the pain we carry is less if we engage these routes we can always say that we forgive as the words themselves can carry your name in text, or social media as a quick facebook message can do the trick as it requires no sacrifice on your end and you can still be the hero in your own right. Right? Why say what you don’t mean? Why give someone a gift if you don’t want to give them one? When we don’t forgive someone we indeed ingest spiritual poison that slowly eats away at us and while we are the ones that rage those who have hurt us do not share in this. Jesus tells a parable in Matthew 18:21-35 of the unmerciful servant whom is forgiven of this insanely large debt out of mercy given from the judge. Only to turn around and not forgive the debt of another shortly after being forgiven of much more himself only to be thrown in jail anyway for his hardness of heart, and unforgiveness to another. God forgives us of much more than anyone in this world can ever owe us, and because we are forgiven of much we too can than like Paul in Philippians 4 be joyful much and set our minds on things that are more restful than the pain, and debts others owe us.

You have no karmic duty to uphold, and no cultural superstition that plays out in this world so there is no shame in feeling hurt, grieving, or not being okay. You can allow yourself to be a mess, and mess up because you don’t have to grow old and become this bitter old dinosaur that doesn’t give out halloween candy, or relives his past life well into his 40’s and beyond chasing the rage, or disassociating yourself until you become a shell of who you once were. Jesus didn’t die for you when you were at your best but he died for you when you were and are a mess so he can be your best. So you have this freedom to allow him to wear the hurt of your aggressors, and the shame you carry as an aggressor, or expose those areas to you if you truly have a wonderful life in the here and now.

Forgiveness is not a one and done thing someone of us reading have been through serious trauma, deep pain, and have lost more than we can imagine or maybe you know someone close to you in this kind of Agony. It isn’t something that you can give in haste or give in quantity there may be steps you need to take in which you can lay this down in it’s entirety, but it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible or not worth trying or something that should be done half heartedly because we know the Bible commands us, and because God has forgiven us of much more. It’s a journey you take one step at a time with Christ and one that may leave you repeating steps, or writing that letter to your aggressor or whom ever has hurt you everyday, or forgiving them moment to moment so your heart doesn’t abscess. It’s worth venturing because you will experience the freedom in Christ and the life abundantly that he promises in him when we dive in and follow him.

Calm seas have never shaped the greatest, but it’s worth travelling. So who do you need to forgive? And what is preventing you from forgiving them? What do you gain in Christ by forgiving them?

 

 

“Wildfire” performed by Blink-182, written by Mark Hoppus, Matt Skiba, Travis Barker, and John Feldman. Copyright 2017. All Rights owned by Blink-182.

 

Eternal Playlists With No End

 

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Banjos pluck as the band queues and rest of the set and music falls into place, and dust settles, and from now is all that is on your mind. Or maybe your band is on recording, and the CD, or Vinyl is caught itself in a loop, and your favorite song is stuck in a never ending build up. For me it’s the bridge in the middle of the song, ‘I Believe’ by REM where there is soft hum of the bass guitar and Michael is softly humming. Have you ever felt like your life is a series of hums? Or maybe you’re walk with God is a series of soft whispers as you’re listening into your telephone for a rhythm for God’s voice as you’re crying out in prayer?

I mean you can be sure that there was something at some time that led you to the course you’re on with him? Philippians 1:6 states that he who has begun a good work will see it completed on the day of Christ Jesus. Great! God has my life figured out and I don’t as we may not be sure where we will sleeping tomorrow night? Or where we will be getting our next meal from as we haven’t figured out the next few moments of our lives. Perhaps when we were children we asked to aim for the stars with our aspirations for our futures, and wish on a star so we come up with these large out of this world standard of what western, or even modern life has to offer. Maybe you saw yourself as a pro athlete, scientist, politician, person considerable interest, with no worries, or no considerable debt.

Perhaps your life was consequence free, and you could go from relationship to relationship, and decide to live anywhere with anyone. But life is in serious plateau with potential decline just like in the ‘Friends’ theme song, ‘It’s like your life is always stuck in second gear.’ How awesome that the universal aspect of being human really does speak beyond borders that lead to oceans with no end where Christ is the center where we exhume the depths of his mercy, and his love. This is different then from what we typically view love, success, and progress as we can remain at this stalemate where they can remain for an unsubscribed amount of time, and still find themselves in the fold of God in heaven. You have probably seen those memes floating around social media, or other Christian merchandise that reassure you that others in the Bible have waited in a season of life until God put their lives into gear and drove it into town where he unveils his purpose for them. While the cheese radar may go off this does hold true to what the Bible says about God being faithful to finish what he’s started with those he’s chosen.

But while we can remain as we are until our lives descend into the water park metaphor previous discussed we can come into this home stretch from really any walk of life. 1 Corinthians 3:12-13 goes into detail how beggars and kings go before God and will ultimately find themselves before him. There is no rush. Perhaps you need to realize that there is an imperfection on the album of your life, a scratched CD, or nicked vinyl doesn’t play music as it should it skips over key pieces of the audio making it rather un-listenable to the audience you lose rhythm, and momentum in the process, and you are left with garbled noise. This goes hand in hand with being salt and light attractive means in which truth is received, transported, and communicated. There is no repairing an album once it’s ruined but we are not hardware, and have means in which to get back on track.

We are provided one who has washed the imperfections from our souls with his blood so the records to our hearts, and souls eternal sing his praise. Jesus died for you not out of obligation because nothing was owed to him by us, and there is certainly nothing that we could give him that he truly can benefit from. Romans 3:23 shares how we fall short of his glory but in John 3:16 we fall well within his grace, and priority for baring the cross. My favorite imagery from any TV show is when the jukebox starts to skip and either ‘The Fonz’, or another character nudges it back on track. For the believer our petitions to be right with God, and before him is like allowing ourselves to submit to his refurbishing process so when you are in a place of constant skipping, and 2nd gear speed you are just a prayer away from being nudged back onto the symphony of worship that glorifies him.

Perhaps you’re not in Christ’s record collection and your life resembles one that needs a little extra love, and elbow grease. You might even contrast your album to being a Slayer album or maybe a Blink record compared to a Christian that you may see as Folk music, and Anne Murray records. While you’re broken at this moment you’re not lost as a lost soul is one that recognizes his distance and doesn’t come where you may be just a few scratches away from sounding like your favorite band in their prime crisp and new by trusting in Christ. You are probably like I was at one point and think well Christ wouldn’t listen to my music, I like dark gothic, or weird stuff that’s really vulgar why would this mix with faith in Christ. Christ calls you as you are, and his record collection contains an eclectic mix of people, and sounds that range throughout creation so you have room to be loved.

What track of your life are you on?

 

Taking Chances- Jesus Party of Two

Imagine you’re in a room where all your favorite people were, and it’s a party people are serving themselves at this grand potluck where it’s always going to have anyone’s favorite food at any given time. Why? Because we are all close and everyone knows what you like, and so on you are surrounded by the portraits of how everyone is at any given moment. Sounds good so far right? It gets better the music never ends and there is an never ending loop that provides all the feels that your little heart can take. You meet the best people that your parents talk about exactly how they imagine they would appear and exceed expectations you didn’t know you had. Your sphere turns into a buffet line where you have conversations with your deceased relatives that you know are passed, and for a moment you figure that you’re being given some cosmic insight into how feel good the universe and God is and how this moment hinges on all of creation.

Imagine now all this starts to flicker like a neon light outside of a bar or night club in the evening, and suddenly this grand event in your honor starts to look like unplayable characters from a video game. Now these people start to leave, the dip is gone, and you’re stuck eating olives, plain lays chips, and drinking ginger ale that someone bought to be polite. The songs become routine, and unfamiliar, and you realize the people you were once talking to are gone, and that if you had only kept in place like your parents old TV antenna perched on the house, or the TV set you would have good reception back, or would have been able to have a little more time.

Okay so now the culture of this party that you remember changes from bright and beautiful to edgy themes, and maybe you weren’t sure why it’s changing but you now that you’re angry that it did. But your friends, and the people that surround you on an everyday basis are angry for real reasons like war, their job isn’t that great, pride, they are having car troubles, or maybe they can’t communicate with their significant others. Maybe they are just as alone as you are?

But you feel that your anger isn’t justified so you hide it under your bed and go to school, go to work, go out and have fun, go to church. But it’ a lit cigarette under your bed that someone lit at your party once upon a time and you don’t know it’s there and it burns into everything you do. Making you weird because other people know that you had this awesome party once, and they weren’t invited how dare you not include them in this awesome experience. Then you start to realize some of the people at your party weren’t what they seem, and were never there for you in the first place, and these people were important centers of the party. You want an explanation to why they pretended, and hurt you, and why they showed up to your party in the first place, but these people have moved away, changed their address, and number. The pull towards these people start to feel less because of the rift between you and them, and now the constant doubt to whether you want to approach the situation. But you know that you can’t sleep at night and you’re up praying for them rationalizing with yourself whether or not it’s all in your head which most of it is. The pieces that you are missing to this puzzle are now outside your reach for two reasons; the first being that these people aren’t sorry for their trickery, the pain they caused you. They instead feel as if you owe them because maybe your party wasn’t like their previous parties that they went to, or maybe they just wanted to inflict on you which was why they came. Perhaps the dream of punching you drunk in front of your guests would make them strong, or maybe they didn’t get a chance to hit you and they instead pulled you in to stab you anyway, or they wanted to lead others away from you. Maybe this was successful but the bottom line is that these people aren’t sorry for anything that may have come against you on their behalf.

The second reason is that these people are unreachable for a few reasons like they have passed away, or they have moved and you have no way of contact. Perhaps these people ruined things so bad that it’s going to cause you damage just approaching them in any means. But you still know that you have to move past this and so there is now a four way intersection that you are parked at.

You still remember how awesome the music was, and how the food tasted, and smelt and those conversations you had with the ghosts of family past. But those people who are no longer are still on your mind, in your heart, and in your blood and as much as you try and forget your party has become a series of locked doors, a museum of thought, and memorial to a period in time that no one can see which is meant to represent some of the best pieces of you. You find love, and again and again but it strikes a match against this cold wet idea that you recall for flashes in the pan of excitement because the band is back together, and the droves of people will come back. But they don’t and you lose grip on the people around you, and become more and more angry because now the lit cigarette you left under the bed is now a roaring fire threatening structural damage.

One day you drown in flames then you jump into an ocean with no end, and in the sinking you are brought to the light, and in an instant these doors unlock, and the rotting water, and the dust are swept away by a carpenter that is now beginning to renovate the place in your heart where you kept these things locked. He then starts to rip out the molding, and the water, and fire damage that you sustained, and you begin to see that the party you threw once upon a time was very small. The people that you chased, and everything  you had wasn’t a means to itself and the party was actually really small, and the ghosts that haunted you weren’t what they seemed. So you’re alongside this carpenter helping by throwing away things he’s telling you need to be discarded, and you find things that you realize aren’t what you want to hold to.

Suddenly everything is different.

He begins to re-tile the floors, and rebuilds the room but then he doesn’t stop there he starts knocking down walls, and changing the layout of the house. Smoothing out the areas of full collapse, and cleaning out the animals that lived in the basement while finishing, and resetting the foundation. You don’t recognize the house anymore but it carries a familiar look, and those people don’t recognize you anymore and suddenly you’re able to detach.

But those people never gave you closure, and there’s one room that is still locked.

You have two options, you allow Jesus in so he can deal with the last remaining blocks of decay in your heart. Or you can hold onto it until you are dragged along with no means of letting ago you will eventually be stretched so thin you have to make a choice between your sin, or God?

What was your party? Who did you invite? How did your guests respond and would you invite them again?

What kind of life could you have if you were to fully let go of the past, and step into the upward calling of Christ Jesus without being cynical would you make that leap?

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Summer Scents

    Among the low points forests low embalming breezes set in as Ice exhales from the tip of breathe among the sights set above; sun shines in. Embraced then cradled the winds pour in like tides foaming through finger tips set on the fluid inhale, and plans liquidate the estates that tax within. The past melts in soluble mass wax that cultivates then dissipates. Bubbling then flow south to the river and the sea, and trumpets resound on summer soaked hills. Flowers bob and dance together the tempo showers through in harmonic ecstasy as the dust flows from dead smiles, and leather faces shrivel in the sun  in four four time the evaporate in urgent careful stares.

     Stumbled to our knees we all made mistakes and he’s our lifeline like children we side step into heavenly footsteps. Our sprained ankles, and broken knees reassemble as the house lights die, and the neighborhood forecloses like a graveyard ready to head east because the suburbs no longer know our names. The house life dies passing in the daytime underneath a symphony of nameless faces, and faceless names that pass from one kidney stone to another. Upward. Onward. The expanse of weight any glory abounds in fashioned congruence we can go only if you believe.

 

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A Diary Semblance

Bending slowly the caverns release the calcified boots of shame like stones into the abyss. Long is their gone hollow empty contortions artists that imagine roses in their dissaproval. Breathes that gasp like dialogue in the heart throb, a knife wound hissing in four four time the anesthetics that drain the bad the sour and the pace that chases our fears. 

Black filled veins like stale cherry cola they called me every name and they gave me the book. Never did I hate them or sharpen this axe as the roots tear from ankle to stem the faces contort into the suburbs that lay leaves in the ditch party summer’s in the dumps. I was never invited lights out their hearts broken like fine tin rusted in refrigerant that flows from the old school reasons to gloat. Ransomed and locked away I was alone as the rain washed the hillside green. White hands touch the filth and sqauler the song that sang the bright so removed their shards simmer in white heat as the righteous laugh. Laughter to the highest heaven I remember as their pretense turns to sand glistening and painted feelings drawn out as the bright become tall the ankles crack and the roots snap. 

Baseline cues and the hillside path loosens from barbed wire and scorched hands that adjusts to these bloodshot eyes. It just way too bad I’ve wasted all this time being sad my heart jump ropes while I’m waiting. The peaks are cold and the valley low holding on here there is a hope in my heart that is full and sharp hooked deep carry on kid as the sand turns to grasss that dreams of being green. They can’t lock you up he’s murdered their progress and melted all their keys he’s unsewn your mouth and shut away their captivating lunacy. Bled is liquid plaid the color of my energy wings like eagles touchdown into lasting ecstacy.

Unmasking Jesus: The Purpose of Temptation

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The idea of Jesus Christ being tempted has been the focal point of debate, and imagination in many in the last 2,000 years. Sources like Hollywood, and The New York Times bestsellers list have taken liberties with how a thing can be. As we step back and reflect perhaps the question we should be asking is why was Jesus tempted?

The person of Jesus is defined as the God man, the hypostatic union that is the combonation of the union between the divine nature of Jesus with the human element. Genesis 3:15 is the first mention of this as he would be born of woman and not of the conventional means that which would override the sin nature that falls on the shoulders of all image bearers under the headship of Adam the first man. (Psalm 51) The debate of the nature of Jesus has been of much debate as many in the faith have not physically seen him but the scriptures in their inerrant testimony of God’s meta-narrative redemptive movements give complete documentation of who Jesus is. In Matthew 4 and Luke 4 Jesus after being baptized is tempted in the wilderness and the question posed is even as a man how can God be tempted?

Man was created in the image of God in the creation event in Genesis 1 and 2 where God in three persons planned out and made man in his image to reflect him both physically, and spiritually as man was made to be a living spirit. God had man in his image socially as he had given Adam a helper the first woman, Eve whom Adam the first man was set to reflect God in three areas: as a worker, a wise man, and a warrior. These roles were given to Adam to up hold practicing godly wisdom as he is given knowledge and instruction naming animals, and instructing his wife cultivating her in God’s teachings. Genesis 3 marks the change in history where man rebels against God cursing all men are cursed to live in sin, born spiritually dead. (Romans 5:12, Psalm 51) Genesis 3:15 enters in the proto-gospel of the one who will crush the head of the serpent and who will mend the relationship between God and man. The cross itself originated in the mind of Jesus himself as he knew from that moment that he would be brought low become a man, live a life that reflects the one that Adam and Eve were originally intended to live as the last Adam, and dying on the cross atoning the sins of man. Sin is an infection that is deep rooted and is the present in the natural man who is born into spiritual still born state that is opposed to God. At it’s essence it’s ‘the failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature.’ (Grudem. 490) It’s root is rebellion and blooms into everything from lawlessness to faithlessness and all in between with the common denominator being death. Sin takes the form of everything from being a piece of fruit that was forbidden to eat, to riches, fame, fun, it’s formless and yet is the shape of anyone’s desire. It’s however the thing that promises quick reward apart from God, and is against God making it’s effects to be devastating to those whom feel the reprocussions.

While sin effects can range from major to minor and often times are overlooked they ultimately are against God at it’s core. (Psalm 51:4) Temptation however is the alluring call to sin that provides foothold into one’s life if they are to accept fellowship with it but is not sin. Jesus is counted as being he who knows no sin but became sin upon the cross for all but is tempted himself in the wilderness in Matthew 4, and Luke 4 the account of which Christ is confronted by sin that offers him temptations that go against the grain offering short cuts in his ministry and are crossless means in which of winning over the world trumping God’s override and destruction of his image bearers.

Jesus himself is the fulfillment of over 300 prophesies concerning his coming, his virgin birth, his life, his ministry, death, and resurrection leading up to the day of the Lord in accurate detail. Jesus is presented as the second member of the trinity as he has provided characteristics in his coming that he only can have in common with God himself that being his omnipotence as he is able to read minds (Mt. 9:4), walk on water (Mt. 14:22-33), raises the dead (Mark 5:21-43, Luke 7:11-17, John 11:1-44) performs miracles having two members of the trinity present at his baptism, providing testimony to his credentials as God. He is also revealed in the transfiguration as being God to his disciples as they are shown Moses, and Elijah in the presence of Jesus transfigured before God the father. (Matthew 17) The evidence surrounding Jesus being fully God and fully man is documented and witnessed by those present and heavenly hosts who proclaimed his coming to the surrounding public. His presence as the messiah sent by God even confirmed being presented at the temple in Luke Chapter 2 the scriptures themselves are presented as the inerrant testimony of God breathed out (2 Tim. 3:16). So the argument of Jesus’s divinity is undeniable, and his birth his capacity to feel and relate in weakness to man is also before us in the scripture that as he lived, breathed, and ate he was fully God and there is no separating the two pieces of Christ’s person.

So how then can Christ as being fully God and man be tempted even if he doesn’t carry the curse, and mark of sin?

God is sovereign and is the same God that under his sovereignty oversaw indirectly Satan enter into the garden to tempted Adam and Eve. Is the same sovereign God that would allow himself to be tempted in the same weakness that brought him low to save his beloved creation while Jesus was fully God he is complete with personality and has displayed full spectrum of emotions, and desires to do the will of the father whom had sent him. As Jesus did not know sin as the first Adam pre-fall didn’t know it either was still armed with the same knowledge of identity, commands from God wasn’t tempted by the normal things that the natural man could be tempted by women, fame, money, finite power the things that sin offers one to gain in place of God as the object of the worship.

Satan is only able to tempt Jesus with short cuts that reveal his character of being finite, but still short cuts that stray from the path to the cross, and into the dead ends of finite broken, and empty avenues of Lordship that yes would provide absolute quick and temporary imitations of peace and security of God’s will but nothing that would provide man with the eternal promise that we do know in Christ but instead would have offered a burned bridge leaving man under the full condemnation of God himself.

The purpose in Christ’s temptation wasn’t a matter of whether or not could Jesus pass the test in order to become messiah he already was the messiah with identity in tact. In fact the purpose of the temptation was to display the power of God’s word and the ability that it has for freedom over sin, and temptation. As Christ was in the wilderness there comes a parallel between the first Adam in paradise in Genesis 3 being tempted and falling, and Jesus the last Adam being the first born of the dead turning to God in the midst of temptation in a barren wasteland distant from God and succeeding. The temptation is set to serve as a model that Jesus set the bar that as distant as one can come from God can still overcome bondage through his word, and submission to his commands.

Philippians 2:5-11 Jesus came in poured out servitude that serves as the bar that one who calls himself a disciple needs to meet. The temptation is meant to serve as the model one needs to come to in the face of temptation leaving people without the excuse to continue in their sin while Christ’s sacrifice pays for it the practice of it by no means should continue. “Satan gives Adam and apple and takes away paradise. Therefore in all temptations let us consider not what he offers but what we shall lose.”- Richard Sibbes. God cannot be tempted (James 1:13) and for God to be subject to temptation is not for the benefit that he himself can beat down on the principalities of darkness which he will eventually do, but rather endure so that he may lead others through trials as an example to imitate that reflects God himself into the darkest places.

Works Cited

Drisoll, Mark. Breshears, Gary. Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2008. Print.

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan. 1994. Print.

Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. New York, NY. Harper One. 1952. Print.

Pentecost, J. Dwight. A Harmony of The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan. 1981. Print.

Wilkinson, Bruce. Boa,Kenneth. Talk Thru The Bible. Nashville, TN. Thomas Nelson. 2002. Print.

What Defines The Church?

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You are probably thinking that a church is defined by a house, building, and cookie cutter suburbanites and grandparents right? Wrong the church is made up of an eclectic group of people, but with all this diversity and relatablity the church is suppose to represent. What defines a church? What defines Christian ministry?

In the letter to the Philippian church by the Apostle at a glance is a letter of Paul himself communicating to a church he helped plant, raise and had communication with since he beginnings as a 1st century church planter. He is anticipating his release from prison and he’s looking reaching out to encourage and edify these people who are supporting him in his imprisonment like the people who take to the street and protest in the modern day they are a people with a cause to rally around having their founding pastor imprisoned. Paul himself is not in a defeated position, or spirit as he lays the ground work for not just deep theology to be preached from the pits of Roman jail but he’s overflowing with a supernatural joy that also spills out the philosophy of ministry that he not just lays for this church but to all the saints whom are to come. In this Paul’s establishing the principles that allows the church to become the true community of believers for all time, to allow them to have both a visible presence yet an invisible presence at the same time, as God sees them having the dual access to be the relatable presence to the hostile world around them.

Verses 1:12-26 Paul really polishes the beginning showcase the true motives of someone and the church in how they conduct themselves in preaching, teaching, and raising more and better disciples. That is Christ revealed, and the kingdom of God and his kingly rule he is quick to identify those in his time who are preaching and teaching from all kind of imitations, and manners in which draw varying reactions, and gain a lot of attention in the body. Paul cuts to the bone in highlighting that the vessel of which Christ is proclaimed should not be the focus of the church or how it’s packages but the contents itself in which it holds as Jesus himself is the motive. (Grudem. 863) The people themselves are not the kingdom but a society of men under God’s rule which in itself is the kingdom and they are the instrument of which it’s used in it’s proclamation. The focus of Christ being the faithful center piece of any movement of any ministry as Paul lays this out the mark of which is his joy and celebration as his affliction is serving the overflow of a Christ centered in the middle.

This is to attribute to the advancement of the gospel by living Christ coram deo the mark of which is the presence of joy that is the lifestyle we are called to; it’s attributed the philosophy Paul is bringing to the church and it’s the very presence of God himself that comes from Christocentric motives, and mission.

“Joy is a lifestyle that celebrates the forward progress of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” -Mark Driscoll

Paul then moves in verses 2:17-30 to give way to the example of service that the church should embody as Christ’s representatives. Ministry should embody purity, and humility that is to serve as light to contrast the world around them. He uses Timothy and Epaphroditus as the examples credentialing them to the church to not only vouch as one would co-sign for credit on a loan but to highlight to church as to the type of character one should be striving towards as the mark of the godly fruit that they bare. This goes in conjunction to the Christ like example that Paul writes to the church in verses 5-11 in chapter 2 as Christ himself had poured himself out as a sacrifice coming to serve to ultimately ascend and every conscience in creation will bow in humble recognition of his Lordship. The servant should willing to be seen for the sake of Christ and to be the example of faith that is seen by the world that represents in that scene of those whom he or she is also in connection with. The imprisonment is joy, the unity in the church is joy, and the opportunity to serve in a capacity that is not ideal, or even looked down upon is also joy. The servant is being called to a lifestyle of joy that extends past the momentary and in that joy the gospel is being progressed either spoken, and/ or unspoken to greater make him known among the nations. This type of man that is described in Timothy, and Epaproditus is what should be retained and valued versus the men whom seek godly means in which to elevate and promote themselves among God’s people. Joy progresses the gospel, the means in which joy is exacted in the servant is selfless service that speaks outside of the box and is an overflow into their actions. This speaks out to the fulfillment of Matthew 5:13:16 as a Christian’s influence to be both salt and light they extend beyond themselves as a city on a hill that can be seen for miles a people serving a world willing to persecute them. (Stott. 57) Salt in itself on an elemental level is stable and can withstand attack and can sustain itself against that which comes against it, but can become contaminated among other impurities. In the credentialing from verses 19-30 Paul is laying out that these men of God and men that need to be retained in God’s regenerate community that in itself has the ability to be stable as salt itself. Many people in the first century just like they do today come with the guise of the Christian veneer and lifestyle but do not produce the reflection of Christ as true believers and servants of God do. Matthew 7:16, and John 8:12 Jesus says two things that ‘You shall know a tree by the fruit it bares’, and ‘I am the light of world’. Meaning that people are more universal than they than they are unique and you can always tell who they really are by the transparency that they have or lack of in which to discern if God’s presence is really with them. Ed Marcelle used the analogy once in a sermon where he compares the believer to a mirror that is broken or shattered the life of which the believer is spent allowing Christ to assemble those pieces back together so that they may better reflect his presence in their life. The true servant of God is one that is light and reflects God in their life, their worship, their prayer life there is no lack of transparency for them to hide because they are a reflection of Christ before man.

Ministry is also men and women who are righteous through their faith there can be no merits in man if there was the cross would not have been needed. Christ does elevate man from unworthiness to a place of deserving poor faith in Christ is based solely on his mercy and cannot rest on the substitutions that we bring to the table ourselves. John 3:16 gives a perfect picture of the great exchange, and is the fulfillment of the redemption mode in which Christ was prophesied to take in Zechariah 3:10. Even more so the basis of faith is extended back to the sacrificial testing of Abraham and God providing the means of redemption in which man can live righteously in fellowship with him.

The faithful are not fools though as Paul speaks of being weary of the enemies of the cross, the unfaithful, mentioning them as dogs as we have looked at being able to exercise godly wisdom. Paul speaks into the original identity that God had given pre-fall man of being workers, wise man, and warriors. As they are called to godly wisdom in being able to discern the character of those around them, speak the revealed truth of the gospel of Christ Jesus, and know humility and truly understand having Christ being the object of their worship and not the things around them or even who they were before they had come to know Christ in faith. They are also able to strive in one body, spirit, and one solid movement that reflects a unified body, and Paul uses himself as the example to model in a how-to fashion as his position is to nurture, mold and guide the church, and the communities at large. The areas of workers, and warriors are those who hear this call, and obeys while at the same time securing the godly balance, and presence.

Finally in the last part of Paul’s letter he hones in; in chapter 4:8-20 Paul really reveals that ministry should not be something left for the younger generation to figure out. He in fact through the letter to the church uses himself as the example in which they are to use like a teacher who’s giving a demonstration. By doing this there is no room for new things to bring to the Christian faith rather it is more or less an old fashioned demonstration of how one lives out obedience, in faith, and maintains transparent spiritual integrity as salt and light that results in a lifestyle that celebrates the gospels forward progress. This is not something that is done a lone and the whole of Paul’s ministry to the church in Philippi is that it is one rooted in joy but done in community the missional piece of ministry that Paul pours out is one that is intentionally in community from his prayers, concerns, and reception of gifts from them and his dispatchment of Timothy and others to and from the church is that while Christ is the central crown jewel of ministry, and the godly positions that the believer is privy to that is restored through Jesus and faith. Through maintaining the path, the frame work is meant to serve the people of God under submission to God revealing the effectual calling of God into himself.

Ministry is defined loosely in the modern day as any church and has been raised up and organized to mean, serve, and establish the church presence in community. While there is variation of experience, and attempt to find fresh ground in Christ as a missional community Paul’s presentation to the Philippians church can be summed up as, ‘The Lifestyle of Joy’. Flowing from which comes the piece of the forward progress of the gospel of Jesus Christ as joy is the effectual mark of his presence and from that wells the overflow that will pour out onto the community that the church is set to serve as a missional and monastic presence. At the essence the goal is worship of God which as John Piper has said that, “The ultimate goal of the church is worship, missions exist because worship doesn’t.”

Ministry is not the presentation of the people that occupy it’s organization, or fit within the services each week but is the right presentation of our God, and his gospel as his redemptive movements that offers spiritual resuscitation, and restoration. Ministry is the presentation of God’s presence among mankind, and offers us the same reassurance of his presence that ancient Israel, and even the 1st century church had who were able to dine, and touch Christ himself. The lifestyle of joy is his mark, and that ministry is about a God who fully present, and fully loving as he is reflected amongst his people like broken mirrors, offering salt.

Works Cited

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan. 1994. Print.

Stott, John, R.W. The Message of The Sermon on The Mount. Downers Grove, IL. Inter Varsity Press. 1978. Print.

Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. New York, NY. Harper One. 1952. Print.

Pentecost, J. Dwight. A Harmony of The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan. 1981. Print.

Wilkinson, Bruce. Boa,Kenneth. Talk Thru The Bible. Nashville, TN. Thomas Nelson. 2002. Print.