Head First: January 2007

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Church I want to be.

Mrs. Dorsey handed me this several minutes ago. I immediately wanted to share it with you. It crystallizes some of the thoughts I've been dancing with, but which have, until now, refused to coalesce into coherence. I'm really starting to choke on what can often be rightly construed as self-righteous disdain for people God loves, despite whatever hypocrisy I might perceive.

The Church as Witness
by L.T. Jeyachandran

As an apologist, I am often engaged in conversations that involve the philosophical, theological, scientific, and historical reasons by which one could reasonably conclude that Jesus is exactly who he said he was--the eternal God now come in the flesh. But interestingly enough, Jesus tells us in John 13:34-35 that the final apologetic by which this world will recognize that he was sent by God is the demonstrable love-relationship that will be seen in the lives of his disciples.

Why is it that the unfathomable truth of Word made flesh can only be conclusively understood in a living, verifiable community of believers? Why is it that of all the methods that the evil one could invent to thwart the purposes of God, none would succeed so spectacularly as the disruption of relationships among the members of the body of Christ?

There is one simple but profound answer. God is a Being in relationship and any truth pertaining to Him, in the final analysis, stands attested by exemplary relationships among his creatures.

To the clever lawyer who questioned him about the greatest commandment in all of Scripture, Jesus significantly refrained from giving religious or ritualistic requirements; instead, he had only two simple relational injunctions to offer: "Love your God" and "Love your neighbor" (Matthew 22:34-40). By placing these two commands at the same level, Jesus brought relationships into focus. Thus, worshipping God is not about mere observance, but relating to Him in love. He is likewise the one who liberates the individual from the self to love others. The first commandment thus becomes foundational and makes the second obey-able. But by the same token, obedience to the second commandment becomes the evidence that the first has been obeyed. The brilliance of this summation is polluted by the pluralist cacophony assaulting us at every turn.

Yet it is in this context that the Church finds itself entrusted with the onerous responsibility of speaking about the relational nature of God. What better way could there be to communicate this blessed reality than by a model which would uncompromisingly demonstrate it before a watching world!

In this, no contemplation of the beauty and glory of God within a community of believers can be complete without some understanding of the relationship between the Three Persons of the Trinity. The image God has given us in the Trinity is an image of three co-eternal, co-equal Persons giving themselves to one another in eternal self-effacement. The glory of our God is not a thunder-and-lighting quality, but a self-giving love within the Trinity. And Jesus's prayer for his disciples (and us) is that this same glory may be given to us that we "may be one" even as they are one. Is there any question why servanthood and relationship-building is no longer an optional extra for the Christian but essential to reflecting the glory of the Triune God?

In a society that is increasingly fragmented and individualized, it is easy to develop a theology of the Church as a collection of perfect individuals. But a right understanding of the relationships within the Trinity would militate against such an interpretation. We do well to remember the powerfully acted parable of Jesus as he washed the disciples' feet. The feet of all the disciples were dirty, but as they would submit themselves to cleansing by one another, they would emerge as a perfect community (John 13:14). We may fundamentally have no difficulty having ourselves cleansed by Christ, but to submit to ablutions by another is virtually unthinkable. The disciples (and we as well) would have been very happy to wash the feet of Jesus, but his injunction was that they should wash one another's feet. It was a strange but effective way of communicating the importance of relating to one another by forgiving, cleansing, and accepting one another in perfect mutuality. In other words, two imperfect individuals can synergistically portray a perfect relationship--the very antidote so desperately needed to correct our individualistic privatized spirituality!

It is an issue within Scripture that cannot be overemphasized. The hallmark of the Church of Jesus Christ is a relational testimony which serves as a pointer to the reality of the Eternal Triune God. May we, under God, consciously discern every trap that the devil sets for us to rupture relationships, and trust the Holy Spirit of love to breathe his healing and remake our fractured bonds.

L.T. Jeyachandran is executive director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Singapore.

© 2007 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. All Rights Reserved. Used without permission, but with a prayer that they won't sue me.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Today is the worst day of the rest of your life.

How do you feel right now?

Well, cheer up. It's bound to get better. According to experts at Britain's Cardiff University, today is "Blue Monday," the unhappiest day of the year.

According to psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall, a number of factors--from the number of days since Christmas and how long since you broke your New Year's resolutions, to the timing of your holiday credit card bill--have all conspired to make today the worst day of 2007.

You can read about it here.

I don't know. Personally, I'm feeling pretty good today. I paid for Christmas before Christmas, and I didn't really make any resolutions. I guess that's the secret.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Skin Deep

As the father of daughters, I was stopped in my tracks by this. Show it to people. Your sons, too.