Marriage does not exist only for companionship or procreation or complementarity. It has a cruciform shape, like other ascetical practices, and is a transformative experience for the two individuals. In marriage, God intends not only to alleviate human loneliness but to effect human salvation.
Jesus called the young ruler to a new kind of material life, a life given to serving the poor with the “materials” of tears, blood and sweat. Clearly, this life is not marked by the kinds of happiness used to sell goods. But we do honor Jesus’ call in our culture when we honor volunteers and all those who serve others.
The crucified and resurrected Christ becomes the standard against which to measure all accounts of wisdom.
Perhaps Jesus is too hopeful, too optimistic about these outsiders to suit our temperament.
Jesus seems to engage in just the sort of activity that James warns against.
My wife and I have two sons, 12 and 14, and a standard-size refrigerator. Hence, we spend a lot of time at the grocery store. As I wait to pay for one day’s installment of food, I am invited to learn the full story about the semiprivate lives of numerous celebrities. If the number of these publications is anything to go by, our desire for insider knowledge is insatiable. We want to know all of the details and we want to know them now.
Who is Jesus really? The answers are almost as varied as the believers.
The Pharisees are usually viewed as simply majoring in minutiae. But that does a disservice to them and obscures the issues.
"I have a philosophy about life,” a friend said recently. “The world would be a much better place if people took a moment to let people know about the positive impact they have had on others’ lives. Too much time is spent on negativity. The good in people simply isn’t recognized; too often it is taken for granted.”
When my daughter was in grade school, her teacher included a unit on table manners. The rule that amused me was, “When served food, you should never ask, ‘What is this?’” I don’t think I’ve asked that question aloud, but I’ve certainly thought it, especially at potlucks.
The church of my youth majored in a miserly view of God’s grace. Its message was grim. Life had no edge, no elegance and no joy, but was only a bitter temporal existence largely limited to preparations for the sweet hereafter. Our bleak church building reflected the theology: it was aptly situated in the Pacific Northwest with its endless days of dreary, overcast weather.
It is the day after Jesus fed the 5,000. The picnic is over and Jesus has taken his disciples to the other side of the lake. But the crowds of people who shared the meal with him yesterday and who then tried to turn him into their king are not about to let him go.
The other day I was sitting in a coffee shop and couldn’t help overhearing an interesting and intense debate on the other side of the room. An older gentleman was trying his best to aid an inquisitive college student who had some hard-hitting questions. She asked about scripture, about authority and about the church. One question kept popping up: “What is the difference between truth for you, truth for me and truth with a capital T?”
The world is full of walls. Everywhere we go, there are fences, gates, partitions and other ingeniously constructed barriers—all aimed at keeping something or someone in and keeping something or someone else out. We need walls.
Why does Paul resort to both shame and pride to raise money for the Jerusalem church?