Tuesday, September 29, 2015

On murder, adultery, and divorce

Christians have long wrestled with lust, adultery, and divorce (the act of which is its own kind of adultery). We know that we should remain married once married, and yet many do get divorced. We know we should not marry another's husband or wife, and yet many do marry divorcées (or divorcés; I will henceforth use the feminine version for convenience). And many have done these things before finding their faith in Christ, or perhaps before their faith has been restored after a lapse.

So if a Christian finds themselves in this particular state (divorced and married again or married to a divorcée) what is the correct course of action?

Some will say that one is "living in sin" in this particular state and that the only way to correct the situation would be to annul the current marriage and return to the first, proper marriage. Others would say that this is too damaging and that one must get on with the current marriage and remain faithful to the current spouse.

But is one living in sin? Or, is the act of divorce/marriage of a divorcée the act of adultery itself?

If we examine another sin, murder, we will find ourselves confronted with a similar situation, though we may not recognize it quickly. A murder committed, is an act which ends a life and goes against our Creator's command. And once the person is dead, they are dead and gone. It is final. Does, then, the person who committed the crime go on living perpetually in the "sin" of murder? In a sense, yes, the state of the person being dead does persist. But, if we know anything from reading scripture it is that the Lord forgives even those who kill, so long as they humbly and honestly repent.

So then, why would we hold people who are in a state of divorce (which in a sense persists) to a different, perhaps higher standard than murder? Surely, we cannot reasonably expect someone to end a current marriage so as to return to the first marriage, for that would (in essence) be a case of two wrongs and no right outcome. If two persons divorce and have not remarried, then yes, by all means if they are able to re-join one another and continue the union they broke, then God would surely be happy with that. But to end a second marriage and cause grief and suffering (particularly to children), just for the sake of trying to return to some previous state seems to miss the point of God's command entirely.

If our Lord does forgive those who have murdered and who by consequence have created a perpetual and continued state of "dead-ness" then surely the Lord does forgive persons who have re-married or married a divorcée even though they are in a perpetual and continued state of "re-married-ness".

In conclusion, I argue that adultery is an act that occurs in the same way that murder is an act that occurs. Yes, the state of divorce does persists. The dead-ness of the murdered person does persist and can never be undone, but if the Lord forgives those in this state it hardly makes any sense to think that God would not forgive those in the other state, that of being remarried or married to a divorcee. It is the act of repentance for the sin that is of the most consequence. In fact, without repentance, nothing we do as an attempt to try and atone for the sin will be meaningful. It is only our honest and humble repentance that God desires. As the Lord has said,

For I desire loyalty and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. -Hosea 6:6

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Open your heart to the Spirit

At times I have foolishly grasped with an anxious heart after God's grace, love, and forgiveness. I laugh gently at myself as I realize that He wants me to stop grasping, to let Him take over and to open my heart to His Spirit.

So easy to get caught up in trying to do or be something that God wants us to be. No doubt He does want us to walk in the steps of Jesus and to follow His commands. Yet, we can so easily drift into being confused, into thinking that the grace of God's Spirit will only come to us by virtue of something that we do. What folly!

The Lord gives His grace to us as a gift. We cannot earn it. To think that we do is to go back to the very practices that Jesus warned the people of His day about, as did God's prophets. Let us therefore open our hearts, and not by virtue of something we do to open them, but let us ask God to open them so that we may receive His Spirit.

Father, we pray that your Spirit may enter our hearts,
That we may not be foolish in believing that we somehow 
accomplish things which make us worthy of it,
We are never worthy of it by anything we do, only in our belief
in you and by Your grace do we receive it.
Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Confess to the Lord

Psalm 31:1-5

1 How joyful is the one
whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered!

2 How joyful is the man
the Lord does not charge with sin
and in whose spirit is no deceit!
3 When I kept silent, my bones became brittle
from my groaning all day long.

4 For day and night Your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was drained
as in the summer’s heat. Selah

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to You
and did not conceal my iniquity.
I said,

“I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and You took away the guilt of my sin.

Let us not forget to confess our sins to the Lord. It is easy to forget that we need to confess to Him. We carry our sins around in our hearts like a weight around our neck. Our Lord does not want us to do that. He doesn't want us to squander His loving kindness, His mercy, and His forgiveness.

Confess and ask for forgiveness and the Lord will renew your heart.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

God's adulterous wife

"she and her daughters had pride, plenty of food, and comfortable security, but didn't support the poor and needy." 

-Exekiel 16:49

Is this not us? Woe to us who disobey the Lord.

The very Father is not without suffering

The very Father is not without suffering. When He is prayed to, He has pity and compassion; He suffers something of love and puts Himself in the place of those with whom He, in view of the greatness of His nature, cannot be. -Origen, Word as Flesh
 To paraphrase Rowan Williams, this suffering which the Father experiences is unlike anything we experience in our human suffering. And, it is precisely because the True God we worship is not just some item in the universe, but the context in which everything exists, that He experiences suffering love, the very suffering love that His Son and our Lord Jesus felt as He walked the earth and as He hung on the cross.

Let us enter into our worship and prayer with this in mind, that God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, is with us in His Spirit, through the suffering love of His Son, and that we are never alone.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Love of the Father

Let us remind ourselves as we pray and worship, to love our Father. To give genuine thanksgiving for all of His blessings and mercies.

Let us not only think about what we can do better, or what we would like for Him to do for us. Let us deepen our relationship with Him and love Him who provides us with everything.

As we love the Father, His Spirit helps us to grow and to love His creation and all of those in it. Through His Son we know our Father and because of His sacrifice we are renewed.

Our hope is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

My thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not My ways

Isaiah 55:8-9

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not My ways.”
This is the Lord’s declaration.

9 “For as heaven is higher than earth,
so My ways are higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts.

Commentary:

When confronted by the pagan hordes who demand that you explain why you do not agree with their pagan beliefs, who corner you and seek to defame you and embarrass you, remember the prophet Isaiah, and the words which God the Father spoke to him, which he has written for us.

Remind the pagan hordes that we are called by the Lord's Spirit to something above human ways and thoughts; that we must seek to be what God wants us to be-filled with His Spirit and keeping His commands.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The two ways

Psalm 1:1-6

How happy is the man
who does not follow the advice of the wicked
or take the path of sinners
or join a group of mockers!


Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction,
and he meditates on it day and night.


He is like a tree planted beside streams of water
that bears its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.

Whatever he does prospers.


Root out the part of you that joins mockers, for cynicism erodes the joy which God has planted in your heart. 

Wickedness diverts the stream of the Spirit away from you, so if you revel in it you will be as in a dry and thirsty land. 

Remember, always, that all things are done by God the Father through His Spirit, and that all things are accomplished by our Lord Jesus who was sent to save us. We do nothing on our own.

If we forget that, we embrace pride and move from the stream which he has given us.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Justification

Justification declares that all who believe in Jesus Christ belong at the same table...

One is not justified by faith by believing in justification by faith. One is justified by faith by believing in Jesus (by way of Richard Hooker).

Faith and obedience are not antithetical. They belong exactly together.

Any attempt to define church membership by anything other than allegiance to Jesus Christ is, quite simply, idolatrous.

Words to ponder and live by, from the book, What Saint Paul Really Said by N.T. Wright

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Psalm 146:1-2

Alleluia.

Praise the Lord, O my soul:
 while I live will I praise the Lord;
 as long as I have any being,
 I will sing praises to my God.

Put not your trust in princes,
 nor in any human power,
 for there is no help in them.

There can be no hope, no salvation, which comes from this world. Abandon all hope you have for that and focus on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There you will the salvation, the power, and the glory of the True God.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The sum of your word


From Psalm 119:160


The sum of your word is truth,
and all your righteous judgements endure for evermore.


Let us never forget that scripture is the sacred Word of God.

Let us marvel at His creation and His truth.

Let us ever be thankful that we have received His Word and His truth.

Let us keep clean hearts as a home for Him, His Word, and His Spirit.