Morning Musing: Luke 3:3-6

“He went into all the vicinity of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: ‘A voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight! Every valley will be filled, and every mountain and hill will be made low; the crooked will become straight, the rough ways smooth, and everyone will see the salvation of God.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

One of those unwritten laws of physics is that things in motion try to find the path of least resistance in order to get where they are going. One of the places we see this in action is on a college campus where lots of people are commuting on foot each day. There may be nice, clean sidewalks to get everywhere you need to go, but there will also inevitably be some well-worn dirt paths where people have left the sidewalks in order to get where they are going by a more direct, shorter route. Let’s talk this morning about what this has to do with our lives and getting ready for Jesus.

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Us and Them

In the last two weeks, we have talked about judgmentalism and hypocrisy. Those are two things of which the church is often accused, but which Jesus didn’t like either. This overlap has some really important implications. This morning, we’re talking about one more thing Jesus and the culture agree isn’t good: discrimination. With another look at something else Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, let’s talk about why the Christian worldview contains the only effect antidote to discrimination the world has ever seen.

Us and Them

Words are interesting things. They are powerful, to be sure, but they are often funny. For instance, one word can mean two different things. Without an accompanying context, you can’t know which definition is intended. For instance, take the word, “bat.” It’s either a small, winged mammal that eats bugs and makes for a creepy Halloween decoration, or it’s a long piece of wood or metal used for hitting a ball. Or how about the word, “lie.” Used in one context, and you could be talking about taking a nap, but in another context, you’re probably trying to get out of trouble. Sometimes a word can be pronounced two different ways by emphasizing different syllables, and each pronunciation has its own, unique meaning. There’s lead and lead, object and object, minute and minute, refuse and refuse, and so on and so forth. There are still other words with two different meanings that are actually opposites of one another. For instance, you could clip something in half, meaning you are separating it into two pieces, but you can also clip two pieces of paper together. If you seed your yard, you are putting seeds into the ground, but if you seed a watermelon, you are doing just the opposite. The word strike could mean hitting something or missing something. It’s all very complicated. 

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Digging in Deeper: Matthew 5:43-44

“You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I don’t mind owning the fact that I am pretty deeply influenced by the thinking, preaching, and writing of Andy Stanley. I’ve been engaging with his teaching for every bit of the last twelve years for sure and maybe longer, so I guess that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. And I really don’t listen to any other preaching. I should, but I only have time for so many podcasts. In any event, Andy has a new book out that I am just nearly through reading. It’s called Not In It to Win It: Why Choosing Sides Sidelines the Church. It’s brought together several ideas that have been cooking in the back of my mind for several weeks into one well-argued package. Let me process some of this with you.

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Digging in Deeper: Hebrews 3:1-3

“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was in all God’s household. For Jesus is considered worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder has more honor than the house.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Which is better: a house or its designer? There are some pretty spectacular houses out there. I’ve watched enough home tour shows on various channels to know that. There are some places that make your jaw drop and stay on the floor until you leave. But they don’t build themselves. The builder is better. As we move forward in Hebrews, we are ready for the next main section of the argument: Jesus is greater than Moses or the Law. That sounds like an odd point to make to us, but it mattered to them a lot. Let’s talk about why.

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Digging in Deeper: Colossians 4:6

“Let your speech always be gracious and seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I don’t tweet. I never have. I hesitate to say, “I never will,” because who knows what the future holds. I was a hold-out on texting until long after it had caught on pretty widely and my lack of texting was actually causing frustration for people close to me. Now I send dozens, if not hundreds, of texts a day. But tweeting is different to me. I understand you’re not limited to 70 or even 140 characters any longer, but it is intended to be a short-form type of communication. I don’t really do short-form communication. Especially when it’s digital. The risk of being misunderstood or misinterpreted or taken out of context is just too great. Even when I text, I use full sentences and punctuation, and my texts tend to have more words than fewer. Also, I write like I talk, and I don’t talk in soundbites. But I am aware that tweeting is pretty popular, that some tweets generate multiple responses, and that sometimes, to be engaged culturally, you have to at least be aware of Twitter. With that in mind, I recently saw a tweet to which someone responded publicly, and this response generated quite a few comments. Normally I don’t give much credence to that kind of thing, but for some reason this one caught my eye…and what I saw bothered me. What bothered me was not so much that I disagreed with the response to the tweet along with most of the comments, but rather that they were generally posted by people I know and respect. Still, jumping into a comment-train is a little like jumping into a swimming pool filled with concrete – there’s no good way to swim across it, and eventually you get stuck without accomplishing very much – so, I held my digital tongue. But as I’ve continued to process the whole thing, I feel like I need to respond. This may or may not advance the conversation, but I am going to be as clear as I can, as charitable as I can, and thorough (remember: I don’t do short-form communication). Here goes.

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