It’s a Deal! A Take-It-or-Leave-It Deal!

fight-for-topIrks me to no end to hear or read the phrase “preacher for ___ church.” You’ll note that we avoid it in places like Brotherhood News and Forthright Magazine. Sure, Paul can call himself a servant of the church, but the modern phrase comes from a far inferior concept — an employer-employee mentality, exactly part of the problem today in the American church.

I’m not sure how two seemingly conflicting principles are at work here, once you add in the preacher-centered ministry of US congregations. Maybe this tension is part of the whole problem, representing two sides of it. On the one side, preachers rising up; on the other, elderships or business meetings swatting them down. That’s leadership for you.

How to improve that phrase? Maybe, say, “preacher with ___ church.” Or, “gospel preacher working with ___ church.” Is that too hard, too many words?

¶ In their abuse of the book of Revelation people invent all sorts of wild theories. How about wormwood being a meteor that, as a part of God’s bitter-tasting judgment, does great environmental damage to the earth? (Or maybe it’s not a meteor, but the EPA causing the disaster, since they seem to be good at it now.)

¶ Not sure what to wear at the next Halloween party? Why not be politically incorrect and wear a “Caitlyn” Jenner outfit? It promises to be the rage of the season. Liberals are having fits about it, as they are wont to do, but I can just see some good Alabama redneck going for it, with a wig sitting precariously on his head and hairy arms and legs sticking out from the dress. (Now that would be scary!) More power to him, I say.

¶ In Heb 9.20, the writer pulls a quote from Moses (Exo 24.8) showing that his point about the necessity of blood for establishing a covenant has historical precedent in the old law: “He said, ‘This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep'” (NIV). He applies this phrase to the new covenant. Although the book of Hebrews is an exercise of contrasts between the two covenants, here he appeals to the similarity of blood present in them.

So Sunday past, I used this verse to talk about the nature of Christ’s covenant:

  1. The very word covenant defines the nature of our relationship with God. It’s one-sided, so to speak: no negotiations, no back-and-forth between equal parties. This is no business deal of increasingly interesting proposals. It’s a conquering king laying down the terms of the treaty to the vanquished. (See Deuteronomy.)
  2. The covenant is created by blood. The relationship is one of rescue: “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” v. 22. Remove the blood from the covenant, and the whole deal collapses.
  3. The covenant is accepted and maintained on man’s part by obedience to God’s commandment. The Hebrew writer already noted this in Heb 5.9. This is one of the permanent principles of Scripture, valid in both testaments, Protestant protesting notwithstanding.

Maybe you can use those points somewhere.

¶ Speaking of deals, is Trump the real deal? One may appreciate his blunt talk, far from the style of the political types, but as John Henson mentioned recently in “It’s Amazing,” The Donald is far from the candidate a saint would like to see.

Pundits have found a thousand different reasons why he has such appeal, and, not to be left behind, I think I have a valid one, also. America is now the United States of Me, and Trump fits the postmodern narcissism perfectly. What Trump and Obama have in common is the preponderant, pompous use of the pronoun “I.” Think about that.

¶ Before long, the US will be living one continuous season of presidential campaigns, as each one starts earlier than the last. Since Americans no longer have private conduct, but live in and for public personality, theirs and others’, what is left but entertainment and politics? And what better but a blend of the two? The ultimate reality show! (And people ask me why I don’t move back there!)

¶ In such public display of self and selfies, the quiet meditation of Scripture, the dark closet of prayer, and the left hand not knowing the works of the right, go wanting. To paraphrase Mt 6.24, we cannot serve both God and modem.