A person who worships God because God is man-centered is not God-centered. And the worship may not be worship.

John Piper.

The shock of being an insider.

This is a quote that rocked me to the core last week.  It’s something Tim Keller references in his study Gospel Christianity 101 (which you should immediately purchase, read, and use as the curriculum at your small group)  He quoted Richard Hays from his book The Moral Vision of The New Testament:

God’s… invasion of the world has wrought an inversion: God has reversed the positions of insiders and outsiders.  Those who are in positions of authority and privilege reject Jesus and the message.  However, people of low or despised position in the social world of first-century Jewish culture receive the gospel gladly, for their need is great… Those familiar with the story should not  under-estimate the shock of this inversion.

It’s a great quote.  It’s not something terribly new to me, but what rocked me this time as I was reading it is the harsh realization that in my church, in my ministry, and in my life I consistently become an insider.  In fact, at times it is my primary goal. I get a new teaching, or a new way of doing things, and I make and “inside” and an “outside.”  I’m always an insider, scratching and clawing my way to be recognized, applauded, and accepted by the other “insiders.”

The gospel alone forces me to admit being an outsider.  But once I am out in the cold, with no way of saving myself, that same gospel shows me (and in some mysterious way gives me) a righteousness that is unshakable.

May God continue to push us out into the cold, lest we believe the compelling lie that there’s something we did (or can do) to save ourselves.

Sometimes readers of the Bible see the conditions that God lays down for his blessing and they conclude from these conditions that our action is first and decisive, then God responds to bless us.

That is not right.

John Piper’s Blog.  Read the rest of the post.  So good.

Feed my Sheep.

John 21:15

“Do you love me more than these?  These what?  Oh, these 153 fish that I just caught?  I sure do, Jesus.  I’d gladly give up fishing—my very livelihood—if it meant being with you.”

How quickly Peter answered.

Jesus is asking me lately whether I love him more than financial security, or even providing for my family.  He’s not, I think, asking me to forgo money (just as he wasn’t telling Peter to never fish again).  He’s simply asking what I trust in more.  At the end of the day, when all seems lost and I want to crawl in a hole, what do I trust more?  Who do I love more?

I’m anxious enough to sing.

I was driving today, listening to conservative talk radio (because it’s as funny as Jon Stewart during the Bush years) and all the flailing and panicking and minor-key interludes that accompany advertisements for reseeding packets and buying gold.  Then, I turned off the radio, and looked over the tops of the brilliantly colored red and yellow leaves to notice a hawk flying high on a background of white, wispy clouds.

Despite what is clearly an attack on our way of life, and the worst economic meltdown of the century, and the rise of fascist dictatorships, and eminent inflation, and the end of life as we have known it, and the rolling over of the founding fathers in their graves (according to the show I had just turned off), it was strangely peaceful.

Almost as if God is not worried.

Almost as if the designer of the beautiful leaves and amazing blue sky didn’t stop painting and creating long enough to fret about his kids worrying and thinking he’d left the throne.

God is so worried that he started painting.  Maybe we should take that hint.  We Christians ought to be so vexed and perplexed that we start singing.  The tomb is empty.