The parable of the day laborers has always been difficult for me to comprehend. Perhaps I make it too hard. More precisely, perhaps I do not like what it teaches.
In chapter 20 of his gospel account, Matthew retells a parable that Jesus told. In this parable a landowner goes out to find day laborers for his vineyard. At the beginning of the day, he hires men for an amount of money they all agree upon. Several hours later, he goes out and finds more men. He does this again, and again, and again. At the very last hour of the day, he goes and finds a few more men and hires them.
Now, as the day is finishing, it is time for the payout. The men line up to receive their money, and the foreman walks up to those who had only worked an hour and hands them the full amount of money. Continue reading
This post is the conclusion to a two-part series. It will probably not make much sense unless you go read the first post: Will I be dumping Starbucks?
I concluded the last post by asking if there was a better way to approach cultural issues than this ban on Starbucks.
This is how I answered:
In order to win the right war, sometimes we have to stop focusing on the wrong one. Sometimes, it is best to lose a battle in order to win a war. And I fear that our insistence on fighting so hard in the cultural war is causing us to lose the eternal war.
What good comes from gaining the top of the cultural mountain; if in gaining it, you have lost the ear of the very people you are trying to reach? Our task is not cultural superiority. It is gospel proclamation.
Our job as the church is not to “beat” gay rights activists, or liberals in general for that matter, in some imaginary game. Our job is to proclaim the gospel to them and continue to proclaim it to ourselves.
And that is where I want to pick up. If by reading my first post on this, you got the impression I felt we needed to be silent, then let me clarify. I do not think we should do less about cultural issues like same-sex marriage. I think we should do more. Continue reading
You are a slave to something.
That was the point of my last post, and this post will make a lot more sense, if you go read that one first. In sum, we are created to serve something. Everyone has a master, and they serve it with their life. Last week, I stated that even skeptics, those people who claim to serve nothing and no one, are really just deceiving themselves. Simply calling your “god” something else, does not mean you do not worship it.
However, this week, my sights are aimed at those of us who actually claim to serve a god. In specific, those of us who claim to serve Christ.
Christians, this post is for you. Continue reading
This is the continuation of a previous post. If you have not read part 1, I would suggest you do so here.
So, if missions is not about you, and it is not about them, then what is the purpose of missions? Why do we go?
Simply put, missions is about a name.
This mission goes to the very core of creation. From “In the beginning” until the trumpet sounds, there has been a grand overarching purpose for all of history. God created space and time for a reason. He created the earth and all that is in it for a reason. He created man in his image for a reason, and all the events of history that followed were for a reason. He created a nation through Abraham for a reason. He delivered them out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt for a reason, and then he sent that same nation into exile for a reason. Continue reading
Missions is not about you.
To some of you, that may sound a little harsh. And for others, you may completely agree. Whatever the case, I had an opportunity this past weekend to speak at a conference on the topic of God’s mission, particularly as it relates to work overseas. In preparation, I pulled together some thoughts on the motivation behind international mission work and thought it fitting to post those here. The topic is just too big to discuss in one post, so I will use this first point to look at what missions is not about. Next time, we will look at what it is about. Continue reading
While reading a book for one of my classes, I ran across a statement that stuck with me. The book contained a diatribe about things that characterize our modern worldview. In the middle of the rant, the author made that statement that people in our postmodern society were “allergic to authority.”
Allergic to authority… that actually sums it up fairly well.
While I do not like the fact that this phrase subtly removes the blame from the individual for their desire to subvert authority (you can not really blame someone for having an allergy to something), it still makes the point.
We hate authority.
At least, it appears as though we do. The word congers up the idea of some structure put over us to control us. No, that is not what we want! We want our freedom, and we want to act however we feel like acting. After all, that is our right, is it not? We should be able to think what we want, do what we want, say what we want, and live however we want. And, anytime someone tries to come in and tell us otherwise, we get fuzzed up, and start to holler for our rights. Or, we simply choose to spite them and do what we want anyways. Yeah… we are allergic to authority. Continue reading
“How far is too far?”
If you have ever worked with a youth group, that question is not new to you. For that matter, if you were ever in a youth group, that question probably crossed your lips, or at least your mind.
And that question applies to more than one scenario. As a matter of fact, it seems like it fits most any situation. Sex? Yes. Alcohol, drugs, and other substances? Of course. Foul language? Certainly. Our clothing choices? Indeed.
The question does not seem to go away with age. As we leave school for the “real world,” we still live our lives asking that question when it comes to our conduct. Except, this time it pertains to other, more adult matters. How friendly should I be with a coworker of the opposite sex? How much can I leave off when reporting my income on my taxes?
What is more, if we ask three different people, we are likely to get three different answers. For instance, parents are very likely to give a completely different standard than a buddy in the youth group. Continue reading
The gospel changes things.
I was reminded of this truth today during a conversation with a friend who also spent some time overseas as a missionary. We were waxing verbose about some ongoing discussion in one of his missions classes at the seminary. It was the familiar question of contextualization and how we must interact with foreign cultures.
Frequently, people seem to misunderstand the whole point of this conversation, as though the purpose of the contextualization is to preserve the foreign culture into which we take the gospel. People get all bent out of shape about the thought of things coming in and changing the host culture, as though we are trying to preserve their unique way of life.
But that is not the point. Continue reading
People dislike the church.
I am not talking about people who do not claim to be a part of a church. I do not expect people who are not Christians to be satisfied with the church. I expect people who do not profess Christ to have a negative view of the church.
No, I am talking about the church’s members. I am referring to those who profess Christ as their Lord. I am talking about people who fill the pews on Sundays. People in the church are not satisfied with it.
God likes community.
How do I know this? Well, it is written all over the place. In Genesis, God creates everything from nothing, and as the pinnacle of that creation he makes man in his image. As soon as he does, God creates woman because it is not good that man be alone.
In Abraham, God promises to create a nation. In Exodus, God rescues that same nation out of Egypt, saves them from bondage, and makes them a people. The rest of the Old Testament deals with this people and their attempts, or lack thereof, at community.
Enter Jesus. Continue reading