Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I like Cemataries

I mean cemetaries. Aussie kids pronounce it as cemataries. I like to visit cemetaries. I am not kidding you. No, I do not go in the evenings, I go at day time. Often when I visit a country town somewhere I enjoy reading the epitaphs engraved on tombstones, whenever we happen to pass by. They tell a story, they tell of a philosophy, of hope and faith of the one burried there whatever that may be.

Lately I have been driving through one on my way to uni. The cemetery is a bit hidden by an iron fence wrapped around its perimeter, so when you drive by you see mostly crosses that stand out above the height of the fence. The crosses are what you see and focus on, some of them are tall. They do draw your attention. Well at least, they always draw mine. Can not help but looking at them as I drive.

It just got me thinking. Why did the early Christians use the Cross as the symbol of their faith? Why, it is almost like the electric chair of today? That is the place where consigned criminals perish. It is a symbol of shame. A lot of people died on the cross, yet the Christians used it to identify them of their faith.

The cross reminds us of something that happened in the past. It was not something trivial, it was something very very great, it cost God his best and his everything. It tells us that God hang his Son there for your account (and mine). We were supposed to be the one who should die a criminal's death but instead God slew his Son so he can have mercy on us. I tell you today I am filled with wonder at this. It is a great salvation and may we not neglect it is our prayer.

It is a good reminder of the Gospel, and please do not tell me I do not need to be reminded by it. I need to be reminded by it because I have a tendency not to stay on it, indeed my tendency is to move and wander away from it. That is part of my being a sinner.

The cross is the Gospel in one symbol. We do not venerate it, we run to the reality it points to - the atonement of Christ for sinners, in faith we claim it as ours because it is right down ours. His death is,... for you, for me.

Wise folk say -the Cross of Jesus is not only the start of Christian life, it is also where it ends.

Thank you Jesus, thank you Lord, you finished it. Amen.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Blog Roll

Visit Aardvark Alley's blog. Thanks to him for including this blogspot in his list.
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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Too Good to be True?

In the midst of thesis work, I had been thinking -- If the Gospel is God's Truth, can it be corrupted? I chewed on this question for quite a bit and it went on for a couple of days. Absolutely, you bet!!!. As early as in the time of St. Paul - apostle to the Gentiles, we read his warning in Gal 1:8. He even pronounced a curse on himself should he go back and change the message. This is astounding because even when the apostles were around, people have been changing the Gospel already. People, and thus by mplication, the Christian Church, can corrupt it.

There are so many reasons why this happens. The Gospel is good news - Jesus dying and being raised from the dead for the sinner's forgiveness while that sinner is still a sinner - is just (pardon me) --- too darn too good to be true. This is absolutely just too much goodnews to take and our mind gets overwhelmed by the force of this reality. Our mind is not program for this sort of reality.

Let me list a few things why the Gospel may be corrupted by people and thus by churches (let me know if I missed some) ...

1. The Gospel is counter-intuitive. It is not natural to comprehend, so it is easy to misconstrue it. What is intuitive but for God to be good to those who are good? Certainly he is bad to those who are bad, that would be more natural to think of. But God being good to the bad? That would be...non-sense! So even if Jesus is there, we patch the Gospel and re-package it with us or something in us included in it. We change the Gospel to a proposition rather than keep it as proclamation. In other words, we impose our intuition into it and thereby change it however subtly. Fortunately, the Bible does not change, you go back to it and it still says the same - Christ died for sinners. God's Grace (Jesus) is greater than our sin.

2. Sin itself. Our sinfulness makes us corrupt the Gospel. Unbelief is part of that sinfulness. Deceitfully workin inside us, our tendency is not to believe it. Sin does that and we do not always see it already operating in our hearts - we disbelieve. The less famous sin -- pride, says - surely it can not be that I do not have to do anything. What? Simple trust in the fact of the Gospel? Surely (we say), it can not be that easy - I still have to do something like ... 'decide', 'confess', 'pray' and 'believe" etc. So we focus on the results of faith rather than the Christ of faith. So we focus on the spiritual effects and use them to change the Gospel. We make the results to a formula, a command, a work to be done. I like what I heard from Dr. Nigel when once interviewed at Issues Etc., he said - do not talk to me about faith, talk to me about Jesus -- what a wise advice.

If the Gospel is too good to be true, it is only so, because we are just too bad to deserve it.