Google, I believe I wrote earlier, is working off an ancient functional idea for its format: the 3×5 card. Simplicity rules. Except in the Lord’s church, where not a few want to complicate by innovation.
¶ Speaking of which, last night in our home reading group, we read all of 1 Corinthians 4, in which Paul apparently makes yet another application of that well known rule among Christians: “Don’t go beyond what is written” v. 6.
“Faithful” is a key word of the chapter, vv. 2, 17. The Corinthians were innovators. Terribly creative. Too much so. They proved the wisdom of the truth that God does not want creativity, but fidelity. The former causes distinctiveness in the church where God wants uniformity.
¶ Why do people, in an age of mass production, where everybody wears the same labels, uses the same brands, and falls off the same Facebook cliff, rail against uniformity? Do they think that everybody discovers their own way to continue in sin? That individuality comes through immorality? Or that “gospel concerts,” leg-tingling emotion, ear mikes, and toothless sermons by toothy story-tellers are signs of sure spirituality that make you stand above the religious crowd?
I confess to being gobsmacked. Must be some complicated Sesame Street different-but-the-same logic in there that’s going over my head. It works for race, sex, and nationality, but not for doctrine.
¶ Irony in service of correction is what we have in 1Co 4.7-13. “Well, excuse me, you Corinthians are king of the hill, never mind that we put you up there by teaching you the gospel. We’ll just take our little seats down here while you kick back and soak up the sun. We’re just the nobodies of God, thanks very much.”
Effective in delivery, not so much in effect, apparently, since he wrote two more letters after that and paid a painful visit to them. When somebody’s of a mind to stand out, it’s hard to stop arrogant. Stupid they weren’t. Puffed up was their normal.
Their cousins still hang around. They call themselves progressives. Maybe we need more irony to lay open what the go-beyonders are up to.
¶ The mission of God is to save eternally every person possible by presenting the gospel of grace, so that people may respond to it in faith and obedience. That make this saying true:
When anyone undercuts that mission in any way, it’s serious. You can be sure that the God who gave his Son in our place as sacrifice ain’t happy.
¶ Evangelical colleges are working to get missionary candidates graduated without college debt. Why aren’t churches of Christ in the forefront of this? Why aren’t our people doing this? You know why? We like our ball teams too much. We want to serve the greater population, instead of “teaching how to live” and equipping to serve around the world. If there’s a different reason, I can’t fathom it.
I now tell prospective students everywhere not to go to a so-called Christian college if they’re looking to serve the Lord full-time. A good preaching school like SEIBS or BVBID will teach them more Bible in less time with no debt. MSOP has a missions track, which many of our universities are abandoning.
¶ Monday was a holiday here in Brazil, so we had a few folk over for 5 o’clock tea. Everybody brought something, and homemade fresh lemonade was probably the favorite beverage, besides The Missus’s strong coffee. This type of social event was the first for us. We thought people might leave by 7 pm., but nobody stirred until 9, and the stragglers ambled off at 9:30. Four and a half hours of chit-chat. We’re going to do it again soon.
¶ Matthew 11.12 is a hard verse. The Expanded Bible shows a bit of the diverse understanding of it: “Since the time [From the days] John the Baptist came until now, the kingdom of heaven has been ·going forward in strength [advancing forcefully; or subject to violence; suffering violent attacks], and ·forceful [or violent] people have been trying to ·take it by force [lay hold of it; or attack it].” The Amplified Bible explains it “as a precious prize—a share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion.”
I like the NLT rendering, but whether or not it’s correct, I can’t say for sure: “the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it.” However we read it, Jesus meant us to understand that his kingdom is where the forces of heaven and hell clash. In this heated all-out battle, no room exists for neutrality. We will either die to sin or in sin. We will either go down with the devil and demons or we will win with the Almighty and his angels. For God, no effort is too great.