Saturday, April 24, 2010

"This guy!"

So I’ve got to say, I’ve been loving the first chapter of Mark lately. The more I look at it the more I think the author is a genius. Without going into the first 13 verses, in which the entire book, as well as the person, power, and mission of Jesus, is established and is directly tied into all the hopes and expectations of a nation, the last 32 do their own part to blow my mind.

The short of it is that these 32 verses are broken up into five stories, each one describing a different aspect of Jesus’ personality and/or declaring an area of his authority. The author uses this group of stories to introduce Jesus to us. The first has him continuing and escalating John’s ministry and calling people to him. The second has him revealing his authority to teach and his authority over demons. The third shows him caring about a sick lady and revealing his authority over sickness. The fourth reveals his dependence and desire for his Father and restates his mission to preach the gospel, or reveal the good news about his Father. The fifth and final story is the culmination of the declarations about Jesus.

In this story Jesus heals a leper, at first glance this seems no more impressive or important than any of the other miracles Jesus performed up until this point, but it is. Up until this point Jesus is shown to have authority over the spiritual, authority over the physical, authority over the intellectual/tradition/law, he is seen pursuing relationships with people and pursuing relationship with his Father. So what is the addition within this fifth story?

The addition is the motivation of Jesus. The addition is Jesus’ authority to restore and heal relationship and community. The leprous man wasn’t just physically sick; he was cast out and thrown away by his community. He was living in the shadow of death, separated from life and from physical contact. Motivated by love, Jesus reached out and touched the man. He began healing the man’s spirit and satisfying his desire for relationship before he did anything about the man’s body. Jesus then healed the man’s body and in doing so gave the man back his family, he gave him back his identity.

Each of these stories establishes truths about Jesus. Through interaction with individuals Jesus reveals principles of his authority, aspects of his personality, and the practical expression of his mission. When Jesus casts out demons, he shows that he has come to set people free and that he has authority over demons. When Jesus heals the sick, he shows that he has come to heal the broken and that he has authority over the physical. When Jesus touches and heals the leper, he shows that he is driven by love, that he has come to give back community, and that he has authority to establish relationship. This is the culmination of the introduction and explanation of Jesus; he has come to restore relationship between man and God. This is the good news, the gospel of God; Jesus restores our identity and returns us to our family… God is our family.

Some people don’t like Mark all that much because he isn’t flowery, fancy, or overly articulate. I’m getting to love Mark because he doesn’t need to be any of those things. It only takes him 32 verses to hit us in the face with everything that is important about God and show how it applies to us. I like this guy’s style.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Gospel?

I’ve been wondering about the Gospel a lot lately. I could probably rattle off the standard Christian response to the question, “What is the gospel?” But honestly, that answer isn’t all that compelling to me.
I think it has to do with hearing the words so many times they've lost their impact. I’m sure some people could talk about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and the subsequent forgiveness of sins, with strangers in coffee shops and be completely genuine - I can’t. If I did it I would feel like a total poser or a JW/Mormon.
Its not that I don’t care about the gospel or that the gospel isn’t about crucifixion, resurrection, and forgiveness, its that that isn’t the important part of it to me. For me, the gospel of God is Jesus. Not just his death, or resurrection, or the forgiveness that comes along with it, but all the rest of the stuff. The gospel was alive, preaching and being preached, and changing people’s lives before those other things officially happened. Those other things were the natural result of the gospel, the gospel being Jesus as the revelation of God and his action throughout time. The good news of God is that Jesus is God. Jesus is walking around saying, “He is me and I am Him; you like me I like you, do the math. Now get ready, because stuffs about to go down!”
I think I’m a fan of that presentation of the gospel. I may even be able to tell a stranger about it without having to check for a BYU diploma on my wall.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Why am I doing this? Seriously... why?

It's not that I hate to blog, it's that I hate to think I need to post something to keep it updated. So basically I don't want the responsibility. I actually started a FB page so I wouldn't have to start a blog, now I find myself starting a blog so I don't need to start a web-page, flipping awesome. So much joy.

So basically the guy who would sign my checks, if I got checks, asked me to start a web-page to link to the missionaries section on the Childrens Heritage Foundation website. Sorry Robert, this is as good as it's going to get. I hope you like it.