Love Indeed Wins

“It was not Jesus’ present purpose to condemn men. He would come to condemn the guilty at a future time. At present He came to save them. Hence He did not now even pronounce decisively on the condition of those who rejected Him, but still gave them an opportunity to be saved.”  ~  Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

It might be a poignant time for us Christians to take some time to remind ourselves exactly what the gospel, the good news, is. 

It’s pretty clear to each of us that none of us is perfect. We’re all the same – all flawed. But what is God’s solution? More rules to follow? Indeed, eternal & civic laws apply universally to all of us & choices will always have consequences. But again, what is God’s solution to our inability to attain perfection – His once & for all time solution? For a wholly deficient humanity, it is very good news! 

It wasn’t Christ’s present business to be concerning himself with judging civic matters. The Pharisees had that well & truly covered.

No, Christ’s sole concern was in redeeming humanity.
And in providing the way for that redemption, according to His own words recorded in John 12:47, He amazingly offered himself to the world unconditionally. In this age of grace that has since followed, the door of opportunity remains open.

Mark Yarhouse articulates our mandate for redemption well in the article Understanding the Transgender Phenomenon:

Most centrally, the Christian community is a witness to the message of redemption. We are witnesses to redemption through Jesus’ presence in our lives. Redemption is not found by measuring how well a person’s gender identity aligns with their biological sex, but by drawing them to the person and work of Jesus Christ, and to the power of the Holy Spirit to transform us into His image.

As Christians speak to this redemption, we will be tempted to join in the culture wars about sex and gender that fall closely on the heels of the wars about sexual behaviour and marriage. But in most cases, the church is called to rise above those wars and present a witness to redemption.

If you’ve had anything to do with a Christian similar to me, I’d guess that the message of redemption has not always been one clearly resonating with singular focus. For that I apologize unreservedly, and as an ambassador of Christ, I offer His words to you today, wrapped in luxurious grace, delivered with the smile & the embrace of unconditional love:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  John 14:6

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”  John 11:25-26

The apostle Paul summarizes the gospel clearly:

“… that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once…”  1 Corinthians 15:3-6

As a Christian, I am a witness to the message of redemption. If you are interested in checking out this radical, real, redeeming love, I would be delighted to chat with you more about it. And if not… no worries!

24 Days of Christ

It’s the Christmas season!… Truly the most wonderful time of the year, for many reasons: longer days, warmer weather, nostalgic music, delightful decorations, extended school holidays, family visits, gifts, festive food. What’s not to love?

Well, to begin with there’s Over Extended: that feeling which is known to commence visiting its host toward the end of November. Unintentionally invited, of course. Then by mid-December, one might reluctantly welcome house-guest number two: Over It. The parties, the food, the expectations, the to-do lists, the obligations… as if Over Extended wasn’t enough to entertain, Over It pushes you to your known limit, leaving you wondering if the dam walls of Keep It Together will hold again this year. And of course, the star at the top of this tree: Over Indulged. The abundance of food, the myriad of presents, the absence of sincere, overwhelming gratitude: elements very often found in many homes, overshadowing the most important elements of the Christmas season. Or maybe it’s just my house.

It certainly begs the question: is this God’s best for me, my family, and my community?

For as long as we’ve been parents, we have aimed to focus on what is important to us at Christmas: the person at the centre of the birthday celebration. That is, Christ. It’s not always easy to create a meaningful Christmas amidst a flurry of exciting & exhausting distractions & we don’t always get the balance right, but it is possible. Being purposeful & turning our focus towards Christ is unquestionably an enriching experience for our family.

This year, we are embracing a fresh way of approaching the festive season with our 24 Days of Christ advent calendar.

24 Days of Christ

Each day includes a chocolate (of course!), a name of Christ, a Bible reference for that name, and a Christ-like heart-state or kind deed in which the whole family may participate.

24 Days of Christ insert

In addition to the fun, festive frivolity of the Christmas season, this is how we are choosing to ensure it’s a meaningful one & to incline our hearts towards Christ, but it’s certainly not Pinterest-perfect: the idea wasn’t planned weeks in advance & as a result we’ve only commenced the calendar on the 3rd of December. (Does that then make it 22 days of Christ??)

There are a variety of ways through which families choose to put Him at the centre of their lives & communities, despite the silliness of the season; no one idea trumping another. After all, relationship with Christ is never about the specifics of a rule, but rather the condition of our hearts.

I’d love to hear how your family chooses Christ at Christmas…