If only we could move away from this graceless fear of reprisal, we might have more monuments to our wrongness. If we have more of those monuments, we might have more room for growth. Just as I don’t think it is helpful to whitewash our past by destroying our actual monuments, but feel it better to take them down by consent recognizing our problematic past and continuing to grow and learn from it by keeping it on display (potentially in a museum), we grow best when monuments to our own wrongness remain on display so we can learn from them and, where necessary, grow.
Have you ever said something and then changed your mind? Of course you have. We all have. It is part and parcel of saying almost anything. We say things and then, faced with them weeks, months or years later, we may have come to change our mind. We may even say we were wrong.
Someone reminded me of something I said in a podcast from a few months ago. They didn’t so much remind me as quoted me. Fortunately, I was able to stand by what I said then. I still think what I said and stand by it. Phew!
But I got to thinking, what if I hadn’t? Minimally, if someone brings it up, I would say that I didn’t agree with it anymore. That much seems obvious. But would I leave the podcast there, continuing to remain as a reminder of a time I said something that I no longer think? Or, in case someone used it to quote me, would I take it down? After all, it is embarrassing to be quoted on something you don’t think anymore. Worse, you might convince someone else of the thing that you don’t think anymore and wish you hadn’t!
Naturally, it depends what the thing is. I don’t think I’ve said anything racist on this blog before, but if I had done (and rightly apologised for it), I would probably take that down because why continue to upset people with something you don’t even think or mean? That seems a natural case for taking the thing down. If you recognise it was an upsetting thing to say, and you wish you hadn’t said it, and you know it will still upset people if found and read, it is just a clear case for employing the edit button.
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By Isaias Munoz — 5 months ago
Seldom do we think of how our work reflects our submission to Christ as Lord. But here’s the reality: Disgruntled workers have a bigger issue than just a bad attitude. When we serve in such a way, we bring reproach upon the God who called us to do that work. The Christian’s charge is simple: work with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord, and give it your all. Confess that Jesus is Lord, in word and in deed (Col. 3:17).
Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters; not by way of eye-service as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartedly as for the Lord, and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.— Colossians 3:22-24
In the beginning, God created. Put another way, he was at work. In all his creating, orchestrating, and designing, he fashioned man to function much as He does. And so, we work too. We bag groceries, we manage projects, we wash the car, we lead meetings, we build bridges, we change diapers (yes, dad… you can do that too. Stop being a baby). We take out the trash, we fix the showerhead, we balance budgets, we write reports, we do the dishes (…yes). Did I miss anything? Of course. Almost everything.
Work is part of us because we are made in the image of God. And yet, since the fall, work has not necessarily been easy or always satisfying (Gen. 3:17-19). Work is good, but work is hard. Work can reward much, but it also requires much. We are made to work, but work can be altogether frustrating.
Believers that are honest would say that such frustrations don’t go away simply because one believes in Jesus. The State of the Global Workplace 2022 report by Gallup found that only 21% of employees are engaged at work, and 33% consider their well-being to be thriving. What that means? It means 8 out of 10 people aren’t enthusiastic about their work, don’t like to work, and don’t think their work matters. It also means that two-thirds of people are drowning in the frustrations of life’s toils. And my guess, even as Christians, we often fall into those groups.
The antidote to these frustrations isn’t simply to work harder or try more or give up. In Colossians 3:22-24, the apostle Paul would have us see that a change in how we think of work only comes from a submission to the Lordship of Jesus.
In other words, if you claim that Jesus is Lord of your life, your work will look different because of it.
Let’s look at how Paul discusses the topic in these few verses:
Heed Your Master
One big hold up at work might be your boss, your supervisor, or whoever’s in charge and whatever you call them. But that’s not how it should be in God’s economy. You honor Christ as you honor your master. You serve Him well by serving your earthly authorities diligently. This is the principle that Paul gives as it comes to faithful labor. “Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters” (Col. 3:22).
I can hear you now. “You just don’t know my boss, though. You don’t know the criticism I get every single day. You don’t understand the lack of appreciation for all that I do. I’m overworked, and severely underpaid.” Is this not the natural mindset? We are inclined to obey insofar as it benefits me or, at the very least, if I feel like it. We will do the job insofar as it pays enough, we are treated well enough, and we recognized enough.
By Josh Squires — 1 year ago
How does Paul accomplish such personal resilience? By nurturing his relationship with Jesus Christ and setting his expectations on a life that reflects the character of Christ, even in hunger and need (Philippians 4:13). The key to not getting crushed in a disappointing holiday season is to reshape our hearts to find ultimate satisfaction not in the trifles of this world, fickle and frail as they are, but in the glories of the next. For there, and there alone, will our expectations not only be met, but abundantly exceeded.
As I walked briskly through downtown on a cold January morning, I asked my friend, a family lawyer, a typical small-talk question: “How are things at work?”
“It’s our busiest time of year,” he responded, “so I’m currently getting crushed.”
“Really?” I said. “That surprises me.”
“The week kids return to school following the holiday break, our office gets hammered with divorce inquiries,” he said glumly.
Initially, I was shocked. Yet as I thought more, I realized his experience as a family lawyer matched my own as a counselor and pastor. My email inbox, text messages, and voicemail go crazy in the days and weeks following the new year. Before you know it, if someone wants a counseling appointment, they are being booked into the spring.
Five Shades of January Blue
Why do so many people feel crushed after the holidays? Why are so many people hurt, sad, angry, and confused coming off a season usually marked by joy, peace, and anticipation? In my counseling, pastoring, and experience with my own heart, I’ve encountered at least five reasons January can hit us so hard.
First, some are simply exhausted coming out of the holiday season. We planned and attended parties. We acquired gifts. We made mad dashes to stores because someone was left off the list, or one kid had too few items. The church calendar teemed with a plethora of worship services and events from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, half of which required some sort of extra practice or manpower. The pace of these responsibilities and opportunities, especially in contrast to the rest of the year, can seem breakneck, leading to an exhausted, strung-out feeling when the second week of January hits.
Second, the holidays themselves can become the foundation of our hope rather than just an expression of our joy. We can end up hoping in the sights and sounds, the people and presents, instead of simply enjoying these gifts. Anticipation of favorite flavors, favorite carols, favorite people, and what we hope will be our favorite new possession can propel us through this busy season. But when the food is eaten and the last carol has been sung, when people return to their normal lives and the presents turn out to be just more stuff to fill our homes, our spirits can crash as our hope seems to evaporate.
Third, do not discount the power of darkness. I’m not speaking metaphorically about Satan and his minions; I mean actual darkness. In the Northern Hemisphere, the short days and long nights can dramatically influence our mood and energy level. This change is just beginning to happen when the holidays arrive, but as we emerge from the holiday season, the nights are long and cold, the days are often dreary, and the world around us seems bare and lifeless as winter has had its effect. All of nature seems to reflect something of our internal assessment that life is a sad, dismal affair.
Fourth, while the parties, worship services, and service opportunities may be demanding, they do get us around others consistently. Conversely, once the holidays are over and life returns to normal, many of us find ourselves living our modern lives of relative isolation. No more groups of people laughing and merrymaking — instead, one day bleeds into the next while we retreat to our secluded abodes, and the voices of friends and family are replaced by the digitized voices of our favorite on-screen characters.
Last, while the holidays can be a time of exuberant joy and excitement, for many they turn into another season of disappointment. Family interactions are difficult and painful. Husbands and wives who hope the holidays will provide respite from seasons of bitterness and disdain discover new occasions for those feelings to grow stronger.
By Mark Horne — 12 months ago
Jesus both provoked the world to the ultimate sin and then stepped in the path of that wrath. He came at the right time just when the priestly people who had been given the covenant law had become the worst offenders. He literally came on Judgment Day. And the only reason there is a world of human beings today is because that judgment fell on him instead of the ones who deserved it.
Paul writes to the Romans in what may seem almost an off-hand comment: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6 ESV; emphasis added).
This verse starkly shows that Paul, at times, can refer to the flow of human history as a collective pronoun. “We” were weak in the beginning of the first century, and then Christ died for us. Many Christians have conversion stories whereby they learned what Jesus did for them, repented and entrusted themselves to Him, and were empowered by the Holy Spirit to walk in newness of life. That is a fruitful analogy, but Paul obviously isn’t talking about what happened in all Christian biographies. He is talking about what God and Jesus Christ did in human history at the crucifixion.
And this passage tells us not only that Christ died in human history but that he did so “at the right time” in human history.
What was it about what we now know as the First Century AD (which is also the common era, but that designation remain dependent on the work of Our Lord) that made it appropriate for Christ to be born, live, die, rise, ascend to the throne, and pour out the Holy Spirit?
Paul repeatedly makes this claim about the timing of redemption is Christ:
“In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:3-5 ESV).
“…making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:9–10 ESV).
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:5–6 ESV).
“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior” (Titus 1:1–3 ESV).
So there are many reasons to ask the question: What was so important about the timing of Jesus’ mission? What made that point in human history “the fullness of time” and “the proper time”?
Perhaps it might help us to answer that question if we developed curiosity about another question. Maybe the real question should be: What delayed Jesus so long in human history? Maybe we ought to expect that there must have been something proper about the time of the incarnation and the work of Christ. Or rather, that there must have been some good reason for the delay. Without an explanation for the thousands of years between Genesis 3 and the Gospels, John 3:16 becomes rather confusing. “For God so loved the world, that” thousands of years later “he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Why the wait?
Consider the synoptic Gospels.
Jesus declared that the sins of Israel were reaching a climax in his own death. In the parable of the tenants and the vineyard (Matthew 21:33–46; Mark 12:1–12; Luke 20:9–19), Jesus described his impending murder as the final climactic sin in Israel’s history, the one that will mean “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits” (Matthew 21:41). Of course, this death is, in fact, the action that will provide for a New Covenant that involves forgiveness of many, as Jesus signified in the establishment of the Lord’s supper (Matthew 26:28). So this murder, while bringing wrath on those who remain in unbelief, also provides the salvation for all who believe.
Again, this isn’t presented as a simple one-time sin. It is presented in the parable as the climactic sin that builds on a repeated history. In Matthew 23, the point is a bit more obscure because Jesus includes the persecution of his followers along with his own suffering at the hands of the unbelieving rulers in Jerusalem. But nevertheless, Jesus is again warning them that they are culminating a historic pattern of sin.
Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation (Matthew 23:32–36 ESV).
The plain reading of these texts is that the rejection of Christ (and his followers) was not an isolated incident. It was a climactic sin that fulfilled a practice that Israel had long engage in. And this sin was serious not only because of who Jesus was, but because it showed they were doubling down on their worst behavior. “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours’” (Luke 20:13–14 ESV). They were presuming on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness was meant to lead them to repentance. Because of their hard and impenitent heart they were storing up wrath for themselves on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment would be revealed.
God Meant It for Good
This might be a good place to briefly consider the mystery of predestination. God was repeatedly merciful to Israel. Though he slew the Exodus generation in the wilderness, that was a mere chastisement. When he was really angry he wiped out entire family lines. In this case, he saved all their children.
He constantly forgave Israel in the time of the Judges. When the sins of Eli and his sons caused the ark to be taken into captivity, damaging Tabernacle worship beyond repair, He gave them a new place of worship and a new system of government (Temple and the Monarchy).
And when they sinned to the point that the Temple was destroyed and God sent them into exile, seventy years later God brought them back to their land in a greater way. They had a new Temple and new international influence as a people both in the Promised Land and throughout the empires. Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.
But when Jesus began his ministry, Israel, having sinned against the grace of restoration from exile, was now more debauched than ever. The prophet Zachariah was shown a vision of Israel being cleansed of demonic possession at the return from exile in a kind of inversion of Ezekiel’s glory cloud (Ezekiel 1) involving an anti-ark of the Covenant:
Then the angel who talked with me came forward and said to me, “Lift your eyes and see what this is that is going out.” And I said, “What is it?” He said, “This is the basket that is going out.” And he said, “This is their iniquity in all the land.” And behold, the leaden cover was lifted, and there was a woman sitting in the basket! And he said, “This is Wickedness.” And he thrust her back into the basket, and thrust down the leaden weight on its opening. Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, two women coming forward! The wind was in their wings. They had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven. Then I said to the angel who talked with me, “Where are they taking the basket?” He said to me, “To the land of Shinar, to build a house for it. And when this is prepared, they will set the basket down there on its base.”Zechariah 5:5–11 ESV