Morning Roundup 6/11/14
Five Sayings of the Homeless Jesus—John D. Barry
Had not thought of these in this way…
It's surprising how often a simple point about Jesus of Nazareth is overlooked — he lived as a poor man, ministered as a poor man, was crucified as a poor man, and — according to Christians — rose from the grave as a poor man. The man that Christians everywhere embrace as savior lived as one of the impoverished.
So what would this homeless Jesus say to us today?"I have nowhere to lay my head."
For those who have much, it is difficult to understand the lives of those who have little. We have trouble fully comprehending what life is like on the other side of the poverty line. But Jesus understood it:
As they were going along the road, someone said to [Jesus], "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man [being Jesus] has nowhere to lay his head" (Luke 9:57–58).
Jesus was born in an impoverished region and traveled as an impoverished minister. He relied on God and the love of others to provide for his needs. Jesus had nowhere to lay his head. There is sadness in this statement, but there is also hope. It makes me sad for Jesus, but in my empathy for Christ, I am learning to have even more empathy for those who are hurting."Like the impoverished and persecuted, I suffered."
In Jesus, God experienced the full spectrum of human suffering.
And about the ninth hour [when on the cross] Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying . . . "My God, my God, what have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)
Jesus is quoting Psalm 22, a dark and tragic poem of lament. In doing so, he is telling the world, "I am the ultimate sufferer." A later biblical author reflects on this idea, noting that Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses — and as such, meet our needs (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Jesus calls his followers to give to those in need because he knows their pain. Christians should walk alongside the suffering in their pain and difficulties as an acknowledgement of the fact that we all need God and one another.
Matt Capps pens an important article on how to handle reports sexual abuse in the church.
I am a pastor, not a licensed counselor. However, it does not take long in the context of pastoral ministry to see that clergy are often the first people approached when someone in the church family has an issue needing counsel and care.
As the spiritual shepherds of congregations, pastors are viewed as trustworthy authorities and granted the privilege of caregiving in various life situations. Yet many pastors are unprepared to properly counsel or care for people going through the most difficult of life circumstances.
What should a pastor do when a congregant confides that he or she has been or is being abused sexually?
What should a pastor do when someone in the congregation exposes instances of sexual abuse involving others?
When is it appropriate to break confidentiality?
Understandably, confidentiality is crucial to a trusting relationship between a pastor and parishioner. The church member's confidence in the confidentiality of a pastoral counseling session significantly contributes to the environment of trust and the freedom to share. However, as pastors we must be clear about the limits of confidentiality when a situation might call for disclosure and the involvement of civil authorities.
This is why it is important to communicate the exceptions and limits of confidentiality even in the context of pastoral care. Pastors should seek to minister in adherence to proper legal and ethical requirements in these situations. When entering into such relationships we cannot assume that the ones seeking care understand these concepts and implications. Conversations occurring within the context of pastoral care are only confidential to the extent provided by the law.
"Christianity isn't just about what you believe; it's about how you live."
"You theological types only care about creeds and doctrines and believing the right things. But the Bible stresses Christianity as a way of life."
"It doesn't matter if you believe the Bible if you don't do what it says."
These are a sampling of complaints and critiques lobbed at gospel-centered believers and "theology" folks who take doctrine seriously. Sometimes, the critiques are on target. The best preachers and teachers would agree that Christianity involves both belief and obedience, faith and practice.
Ironically, when some of these critics are challenged for their advocacy of lifestyles and behavior outside the mainstream of historic Christianity, they rush to the creeds as a defense. They go from saying, "Christianity is more about what you do than what you believe" to saying "How dare you challenge what I'm saying about a way of life! I believe the right doctrines!"
You can't have it both ways.
What's needed today is a robust understanding of the Christian faith that recognizes the multi-faceted meaning of orthodoxy.
What Jude Means When He Tells Us to Contend for the Faith
"Bible-believing" Christians love to trot out Jude's exhortation to "contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all" as a challenge to shore up doctrinal fidelity and avoid theological slippage. I can't count the number of times I've heard this verse applied in a way that emphasizes the need to maintain the doctrinal core of Christian truth claims.
Of course, there's no disputing the legitimacy of applying Jude's words this way. Surely "the faith" we are to contend for includes the truths at the heart of our faith (the lordship of Christ, the substitutionary atonement, the resurrection from the dead, the authority of Scripture).
Pastors, Authors and Apologists Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg were my guests during this fast-paced episode of The Exchange. In this clip, we talk about kitschy evangelism. Don't forget to join me every Tuesday at 3:00 PM Eastern for The Exchange.