We know and trust that our faithful God will give us life after death, a glorious life if we trust in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. Even on the really bad days, we can hold onto this hope. And on the days when things are going really well, we know that what is coming will be so much better still.
Many novels and movies these days are set in the near future, and they generally have something in common. The future most of us expect is a disaster. Whether that means living through world wars, nuclear disasters, environmental catastrophes, or cruel dictatorial governments, most visions of the future are bad. There are many who have no hope when they look to what is coming.
The Sadduccees in Matthew 22 might not have expected killer robots or global warming, but they also didn’t have much hope for the future. They had a privileged life now, running the priesthood and having the support of the Romans. Yet they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead (v23). They thought that death was the ultimate end. All they had to look forward to was growing old and then being no more.
Yet when they bring a rather unusual question to Jesus that deals with the resurrection, they don’t get the answer they expect.
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By Carl R. Trueman — 5 months ago
Written by Carl R. Trueman |
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
Hanks is not motivated by a fear that gay actors are not getting roles in Hollywood movies. He is motivated by the desire to avoid, in his words, “inauthenticity”—presumably a critical comment on the dramatic representation of the suffering of gay men by a straight actor.
Tom Hanks recently declared that if Philadelphia, the movie that earned him one of his Oscars, were made today, it would no longer be acceptable for him, as a straight man, to play the gay lead. This comment has provided low-hanging fruit for conservative critics. It is, after all, ridiculous that a profession predicated on its members earning their livings while pretending to be people they are not should become prissy about certain types of role-playing.
Hanks has likely not reflected at any great depth on the significance of his statement. He is simply engaging in some well-intentioned pandering to current political tastes, doing little more than reciting the liturgy of the powers, a public performance that reflects and reinforces the cultural and political priorities of the day. Hanks is not motivated by a fear that gay actors are not getting roles in Hollywood movies. He is motivated by the desire to avoid, in his words, “inauthenticity”—presumably a critical comment on the dramatic representation of the suffering of gay men by a straight actor.
To respond to Hanks simply by pointing to the absurdity of requiring actors to have personally experienced what they represent on the screen is legitimate, but it also misses the broader significance of his assertion. His comment is not simply absurd; it is also very revealing about our current cultural politics.
Hanks’s comment is a function of the fact that perceived victims of the old norms for sex and sexual behavior now enjoy a privileged status in our culture. As a result, even a straight man playing a gay man in a piece of fictional drama risks being seen as indulging in an act of imperialist aggression, an appropriation and subversion of another’s victimhood. And Hanks is far from innovative in his liturgical response. Eddie Redmayne has offered similar repentance for playing the lead role in The Danish Girl. And other storms—for example, Laurence Olivier’s portrayal of Othello—indicate a similar squeamishness with actors and roles that touch on the current nature of racial politics. So far, so predictable. But Hanks’s comment reveals not simply the priorities but also the contradictions of our culture’s politics.
By Shelby Abbott — 9 months ago
Let’s not celebrate doubts and allow them to loiter in our hearts—but let’s not be afraid of them either. John the Baptist was bold enough to dispatch his disciples to pose a pointed, doubt-filled question to the second person of the Trinity. His question is an example of someone who took the fight to his doubt instead of allowing it to quietly linger and consume him.
Doubting Thomas gets most of the press, but for me, John the Baptist is a more compelling New Testament example of a doubter.
He was a godly man whom Scripture identifies as “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’” (John 1:23; cf. Isa. 40:3), because he was the precursor to the Messiah.
At one point, John directed his own disciples to stop following him and instead follow Christ, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
He obviously believed, right? I mean, he made it clear to those who asked: he was not the Messiah (John 1:20) and Jesus was.
As an unborn baby, John the Baptist leaped inside his mother’s womb at the presence of Christ (Luke 1:41). He even got to hear the voice of God the Father and see the heavens opened as the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus after John baptized him in the Jordan River (Matt. 3:13–17).
That’s right—John heard God’s voice thunder, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). Pretty compelling proof that Jesus was, in fact, the long-awaited Messiah.
In light of all this evidence, you’d think John would’ve never doubted that Jesus was who he claimed to be.
But John had his doubts.
Even John Wasn’t Sure
Near the end of his life, John was in prison facing imminent death. He called two of his disciples and requested that they go to Jesus and ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Luke 7:19). John was essentially saying, “I think I believe you’re the Messiah, but in this moment, I’m not 100 percent sure.”
By Worth Loving — 7 months ago
Three precious promises as I’ve grieved over the last few months: God loves me unconditionally despite my doubts and lack of peace. God’s ways are higher than mine. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us that “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” I know God is close to those who have a broken heart. “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
A few months ago, one of my best friends moved away, and I was plunged into some of the deepest grief I have ever experienced. It sent me spiraling into a season of depression and provoked one of the deepest questionings of my Christian faith. At times, I cried out to God, pleading for an answer that would give me the peace and closure I needed to move on. At other times, I was filled with pride and arrogance, demanding an answer from God and refusing to trust Him again until I got one.
In the following paragraphs, I am going to be very open about my struggles because I believe that is what the church needs. For too long, we have kept inside what we should be sharing. In Galatians 6:2, Paul commands us to “bear one another’s burdens.” Most relationships in the church barely scratch the surface, either because we are too afraid to share with others or because we don’t know how to respond. My hope is that this article will help both those who are grieving and those who want to minister to others.
As I wrestled with my feelings, naturally I looked for others who had experienced something similar. I stumbled across C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed one day and decided to give it a read. I have read several of C.S. Lewis’ works in the past, most of which are either allegories or apologetics. A Grief Observed was very different, almost like a deeply personal journal that was not intended for public reading. Originally published under the pseudonym N.W. Clerk, Lewis wrote A Grief Observed after his dear wife Joy died of cancer. They were married for only four years before she passed away.
Now, I have certainly not experienced the death of my friend. Nonetheless, there is still incredible grief from his absence. Growing up as an only child, I always wanted a brother. The Lord most definitely filled that desire through my friend. For the past four years, we spent nearly every day together. And through my friend, I repeatedly experienced the unconditional love of God as he forgave me when I was wrong and saw past all my many faults. And now, suddenly, he is gone. I am thankful that we still have the ability to communicate and visit each other. But the fact is that my friend no longer lives close by, and things will never be the same. That void is often overwhelming.
As I read A Grief Observed, I found myself identifying with many of the feelings this giant of the faith experienced so many decades ago. At the start, Lewis addresses God’s apparent silence in our grief:
But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?
Thankfully, these are only thoughts that crossed Lewis’ mind and not anything he actually came to believe. I know such thoughts have crossed my mind during the last few months, and I’m sure they have crossed yours as well during a time of grief. Later, Lewis acknowledges that grief is one of God’s methods to test our faith, to show us who or what our trust is really in:
God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards.