For Jesus, being a “Christian” isn’t a blob of jelly that can be squished into any shape we want. It’s not a personalised experience, in which you tell “your truth” and create a customised “Jesus”. It’s believing the truth about the real Jesus of history, being changed by him, and belonging to his people.
It may surprise you to know that the word “Christian” appears in the Bible just three times. The name itself was first coined in Antioch in south east Turkey, years after Jesus had returned to heaven. You can read about it in Acts 11:26. Up until then, Christians went by the name of “disciples”, “believers”, “brothers”, “saints” (which means holy ones), and “followers of the Way”. But a new word was needed to describe this weird new social group, made up of both Jews and non-Jews who followed Jesus. So, the name “Christian” was invented. And it’s stuck!
Today, billions of people claim the label for themselves. Locally, in the recent 2021 census, 36.9% of borough residents ticked the “Christian” box on the form. But, what is a Christian? Is it just an identity label that we get to claim for ourselves? Who gets to decide?
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By Ellen Mary Dykas — 2 years ago
For every married man who battles sexual sin, there is a wife and perhaps kids who are impacted. It’s beautiful when churches uphold God’s good, biblical design for marriage, discipling their people that husbands and wives are to love each other as unto the Lord, to serve one another selflessly as a way to show devotion to Jesus through faithfulness in all areas. However, we must also uphold God’s compassion for wives when marriage vows are broken. This is what Paul is speaking about, in part, when he exhorts husbands to “…love his wife as himself” (Ephesians 5:33). When husbands need help loving their wives, the Body of Christ steps in to counsel, correct, and provide compassionate care.
Johnny and Hannah (names changed) had twelve years of marriage behind them when his secrets came out. He’d humbly told Hannah when they were dating that porn had been a struggle since his teens. She took the news in and faithfully tried to learn how to help him, and their relationship moved forward to marriage. What Johnny hadn’t disclosed was that in high school, he’d fathered a baby and had caught an STD from his girlfriend. He brought that STD into his marriage. And there was more. Johnny then committed adultery with two women early in their marriage.
Fast forward twelve years. Johnny and Hannah had two kids and a busy life of parenting, jobs, and financial stress due to the pandemic. Hannah’s mysterious health problems and a trip to the doctor forced Johnny’s hand to come clean about his past, including how it had brought sickness into Hannah’s body.
Yet Hannah’s heart was sick, too. She was devastated to learn that her husband had kept so much history a secret from her. Even worse, it crushed her spirit to come to grips that her husband had endangered not only their marriage but her very life by giving himself sexually to others. To top it all off, he had another child out there somewhere!
An Initial, Helpful Pastoral Response is not Enough
Hannah insisted that Johnny call their pastor when she learned all this heavy news, and, thankfully, the pastor responded quickly and compassionately. Within two days, the three of them met in his office, and out tumbled a sad, painful story of sin, suffering, and secrets. He wept with them and acknowledged the severity of their situation.
This is good news, right? Wouldn’t we want a pastor, church leader, counselor, or friend to respond this way? Yes! I celebrate when hurting wives share with me that their pastors respond with empathy, loving engagement, and personal availability. There are so many hurting couples in our churches who are alone and silent in their pain, so when I hear of a pastor’s office providing a warm and safe landing place for a couple, I truly am encouraged.
However, it’s what happened next that is sadly common for wives in particular when a husband’s infidelity comes out into the light. Don’t get me wrong: Wives can be sexually unfaithful, too, but, in my fifteen years of ministry at Harvest USA, I’d say the calls from wives who have been hurt compared to husbands responding to their wives’ sexual sin is roughly 90 to 1.
An Unfortunate Yet Typical Scenario
Hannah and Johnny left the pastor’s office exhausted, brokenhearted (her), and ashamed and angry (him). But they did have a plan. Johnny would meet with the pastor weekly for the next month for some initial accountability, prayer, and encouragement. The pastor offered to try to find a mature woman in the church to connect with Hannah. Hannah was hopeful about having at least one person to open her heart to, even if she was deeply embarrassed and overcome with sadness. Counseling wasn’t an option, as there just weren’t finances for it, and, anyway, they lived in a community “where everybody knows your name,” so Hannah was terrified of others finding out.
By Reformation Scotland — 4 months ago
Let us consider the transfiguration not only as it relates to the work of the mediator, but in reference to what Christ intended to achieve by it.
To Show His Disciples a Glimpse of His Glory in Heaven
Christ intended to show His disciples a glimpse of His glory in heaven, and particularly the glory of His person in his coming the second time to judgment. Prior to this He had promised that they would see His glory before they tasted death.
The glory of Christ at His second coming shall be great. “He shall come in the glory of His Father.” Not only will He be glorious in regard of His train and His throne, but in His person.
Theologians give some reasons for this transcendent glory. One is because His coming to judgment is the height of His exaltation. That’s why it says in the Creed, “… from thence shall He come to judge …” as the last step of His exaltation. The highest step of His exaltation must be full of glory.
Another reason is that it is fitting that those by whom He was despised and rejected should see Him as eminently glorious. At the Great Day that they are most afraid of His face. “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of the Lamb,” is their cry to the hills and mountains — not so much to be hidden from hell, as from His face.
The third reason is for the comfort of His people. They have forsaken all for Him, and the wisdom of their choice will be commended (in the judgment of their enemies) by this, when He shall appear in the brightness of His Father’s glory.
All this should stir us up to look on Christ as one who is in transcendent glory now (as well as that He will be seen to be so at His second coming). This is advantageous in several ways.
It guards us against stumbling when we encounter all the ignominious reproaches that attend us when we follow Him here. He was, and His followers still are, a sight for passers-by to wag their heads at. Yet, above, He is the temple, the light, and the admiration of all who behold Him.
It allows us to discern that not only our nature but our persons are advanced in Him as the second Adam, and the one head of all believers. By Him they are all represented. However despicable they may be in themselves, yet they are glorious in Him.
It reminds us to be humble. Though we are warranted to come with boldness to His throne of grace, yet still we are to remember His glory, and what a vast inequality there is between us and Him, seeing we are base and polluted, and He is the glorious Lord.
It will make us love and long for Him to come. Though many still cast His cords from them and despise His yoke, yet He shall then be exalted even by His enemies, who shall tremble at the sight of His transcendent glory.
To Give His Disciples a View of the Glory of the Saints’ Bodies
The second aim which Christ had in mind in the transfiguration was to give us a view of the glory which the bodies of His saints (who will be conformed to His image) shall have in heaven from His transfiguration. Not only shall their souls partake of excellent glory, but their bodies shall be changed, and made like His glorious body.
By Mike Sabo — 1 week ago
Christian hope isn’t some fake, sunny optimism that’s divorced from a clear-eyed view of reality. Christians can still see the manifold political and cultural problems around them and work to do something about them. Instead, it’s a recognition that Christ will triumph—and he will do so through every means at His disposal.
Why is there no concerted effort among evangelicals to reach out to the dissident Right? I’ve been thinking about that question after reading a recent post on the crisis at the Texas border (you can read my take here) at Conundrum Cluster’s Substack.
A “Harvard- and Cambridge-educated classical historian” according to a recent byline, Conundrum Cluster was one of the people behind the old Mystery Grove Twitter account, one of the more popular accounts on the dissident Right. It was known for its movie list—which featured films to watch, and in the order specified—as well as republishing long out-of-print autobiographies that punctured the pieties of our post-World War II order.
In any event, after Conundrum Cluster gave his somewhat contrarian take on the mess at the southern border, he sounded a crucial note that the Right desperately needs to hear today. “America is (or at least Americans are) going to make it through this,” he writes. “We’re not doomed. There’s still a shot of salvaging the situation, it’s even a pretty good shot right now.” This is welcome news.
Black-pill spiraling is popular in right-wing circles. And understandably so. Virtually every major cultural indicator is plummeting. The ruling gerontocracy have the country pointed straight toward a cliff as they head off to cushy nursing homes (or simply remain in office for the rest of their days). Prospects look bleak for rising generations. In response, members of the Right typically try to outdo each other with the worst possible predictions of what the future holds: Will the re-education camps only have two latrines or one?
For Christians, there’s much to be concerned about in our increasingly anti-Christian age.
Aaron Renn has made a convincing case in his new book, Life in the Negative World, that Christians face perilous times as we venture further into the murk of the negative world. Being forced to quit a job or getting fired due to holding orthodox beliefs will be happening at a more regular clip. The targeting of Christian businesses will increase. There will be heightened social pressure to apostatize from the faith.
Persecution of various kinds will increase, including the lawfare machine going “brrr.” In a recent example of that, the Biden Department of Justice targeted a group of pro-lifers for violating the FACE Act because they prayed and sang hymns in front of an abortion “clinic.” Six pro-life demonstrators were convicted of physically blocking access and now face up to ten-and-a-half years in prison and fines up to $260,000. Welcome to the world of two-tiered “justice.”