Sunday, May 31, 2009

June 1, 2009

These days it seems fashionable to be identified as an atheist. Atheism has gained an exalted place in our modern culture because it is portayed as an intellectually superior philosophy. But is it really?
Here's what the Bible says,
"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.' Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe."
I Corinthians 1:18-22
The great British preacher, Charles Spurgeon once said, "There are no atheists anywhere but on earth. There are none in heaven, and there are none in hell. Atheism is a strange thing. Even the devils never fell into that vice, for 'the devils also believe and tremble' (James 2:19). And there are some of the devil's children that have gone beyond their father in sin. But when God's foot crushes them, they will not be able doubt His existence. When He tears them in pieces and there is none to deliver, then their empty logic and their bravados will be of no avail."
So, what do we need to understand about these who arrogantly deny the existence of God and who demean those who believe in Him?
1) Most of them carry spiritual and emotional baggage that are the real reasons behind their refusal to believe. Unfortunately, their reasons for not believing have little to do with God and much to do with misperceptions about Him. Perhaps they have been disappointed by faith or by a person of faith. Maybe they were hurt by a church or damaged by a parent who used faith to shield their abusive behavior. They project their disillusions onto God.
2) Atheism is often portrayed as the modern and trendy way to think and people of faith are belittled as archaic and backward in their thinking. The truth is that people have been rebelling against God and trying to rationalize Him away since the Garden of Eden. Unbelief is nearly as old as belief.
3) An atheist's claim that there is no God is intellectually dishonest for this reason, it is an attempt to make humans into gods. That, in a way, is the ultimate irony: atheists in their denial of God, cannot help but replace the truly omniscient God with a cheap imitation - themselves.
4) Also, his claim that God doesn't exist is intellectually inconsistent because the only way that could be true is if the atheist knew everything it is possible to know. Otherwise, it would be possible for God to exist but that He existed outside of his knowledge or beyond his ability to know. Since there has never been an oniscient human being, there has never been an honest atheist.
5) God believes in atheists even if they don't believe in Him and He sent His Son to die for them. So we should pray for them and reach out to them in love. We should live our lives in ways that make God seem real.
Lest we be too negative toward atheists, let me remind you that at times each of us behave as practical atheists. How is that? When we know what the Bible says and we fail to obey it, we are acting as though there is no God - or as if we are gods. Before we criticize or condemn them, let's repent of our own disbelief and rebellion. God help us, so we can help them.

May 31, 2009

What does love look like from Jesus' perspective?

How can I show my love for Him in a way that makes Him feel loved? What is His "love language"?

In John 12, He gives us some insights into that important question.
First, love is extravagant.
On Jesus' next trip to Bethany He attended a dinner in His honor to celebrate the miracle of Lazarus. It was a grand occasion! All of their friends were there, the ones who had shared the incredible event that snatched joy from the jaws of sorrow. All were reclined at the table, including Lazarus. Martha, of course, was busy serving them. What grand fellowship!
Amid the celebration, the other sister, Mary, entered the roon bearing something in her hands. Hardly anyone noticed until she approached Jesus, knelt before Him. At that point she held out an alabaster box filled with an expensive perfume. She broke the box and poured the fragrant offering over His feet and washed His feet with her hair.
Ironically, we only know the extravagant value of the gift because of the calculations of the greedy Judas, who bemoaned the fact that the gift could have been given to feed the poor. Afterall, it was the equivalent of a year's income.
What a contrast between someone who loved unconditionally and one who was calculated in His giving! There may be no clearer picture of extravagant love in the Bible.
Mary gave the best she had to demonstrate the highest love she possessed. Everyone in that room knew the cost of that offering and immediately grasped the depth of her love.
Jesus was moved. He was ministered to at a critical moment in His life.
Do you love Jesus? How would He know? When was the last time you offered your most treasured possession to express your highest love?
Second, love is expectant.
The next day, word got around that Jesus would be entering Jerusalem to prepare for the Passover celebration. Those who had followed His ministry knew that when Jesus showed up exciting things happened. Some had seen Him raise Lazarus. A few had been at the feast. Perhaps the blind and the lame and the possessed people that he had healed and delivered were all there. They came with great joy and expectation, grateful for what He had done and anxious to see the next great thing He would do.
Isn't that the way we are toward people we love? We can't wait to see them again! We get excited as their arrival draws near. We run to meet them when they arrive.
What are you expecting from Jesus today? Are you running to meet Him? Are you excited by His presence? That is how love behaves.
Finally, love is expressive.
Jesus was about to offer the ultimate expression of love, Himself. He tells a His disciples and a small group surrounding them that love is expressed in sacrificial service. Like the alabaster box, His body was about to be broken as an extravagant expression of love.
He explains that His earthly body must die and be buried so that His eternal life can spring forth. And through His sacrificial act of service, we will also live.
In the currency of God's Kingdom, a life spent in sacrificial love is accounted as an investment of love.
How have you expressed your love for God lately? Have you served Him? Have you given your life to something that He loves? How will sacrifice today?
Love that blesses Jesus is extravagant, expectant, and expressive.