Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
This past week, we have talked about the value of staying plugged in to Jesus, hypocrisy, contradictions, God’s sometimes painful efforts to help us grow in His image, and the importance of a response of kindness to provocations rather than one that is merely in kind. And as the week has unfolded, each one of those things have made their way into the national news cycle in one way or another. Now, this doesn’t mean anyone in the media was talking about any of the issues through any of these various lenses, but as careful observers of culture through the lens of the Christian worldview, we can see the connections. In light of this, instead of a review of a recent show or film today, I thought we’d do a quick review of some of the news of the week through the lens of what we’ve spent the last week talking about. Here we go.
“So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things above, not on earthly things.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
What you think about most determines a great deal about your life; what it looks like and the direction it will go. The challenge of this fact is that we live in a world in which we are bombarded by things to think about all the time. Everywhere we look there are things thrusting themselves in our faces, demanding we give them our attention. If following Jesus is something you endeavor for at all, how do we manage such a feat with anything resembling faithfulness? Paul offers us some pretty sound advice here.
“God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.’ God also said, ‘Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This will be food for you, for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth – everything having the breath of life in it – I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
When you start watching a particular television series, it sometimes takes a few episodes for the worldview of the writers to come out. In the first few episodes they are spending all their time introducing and establishing the main characters. They are revealing which characters are the protagonists and which are the antagonists. They are clarifying the various problems the characters are going to be facing together. And while you might get glimpses of the writers’ worldview in the midst of all of that, it is often difficult to tell which is the worldview they are promoting, and which are the worldviews they are simply presenting. This is all especially true for a traditional series that will run for 23 episodes. But as our television culture continues to shift in the direction of limited series of 8-13 episodes with higher production values (consider, for example, every single Disney+ original series), questions of worldview are being clarified much earlier. And so, as I recently watched the third episode of 1883, a major piece of its worldview was revealed, and I can’t help but to comment on it. I know we talked about the series earlier this week, but let’s come back to the series again this morning in more detail.
“As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?'” (CSB – Read the chapter)
I remember when our oldest first hit the “why stage.” He was about three. Conversations with him – as much as you can have a conversation with a three-year-old – became an endless string of questions and answers. One why led to an explanation which led to another why which led to another explanation which led to another why and so on and so forth. So. Many. Questions. When I was feeling good and patient, I would see if I could keep explaining things until he quit asking. Usually I couldn’t. As he’s gotten older, the number of questions have decreased, but the ones he asks now have harder explanations. This is true for all people. We may understand more of how the world works than a three-year-old, but some questions persist. This man asked Jesus one of them.
“Summoning the crowd again, he told them, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand: Nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)
What do you get when you squeeze a tube of toothpaste? I recently saw a magician squeeze ketchup and then pour salt out of the same tube of toothpaste. I’m pretty sure he monkeyed with the tube somehow. Normally, when you squeeze a tube of toothpaste out comes a glob of…toothpaste. This isn’t rocket science. Now, here’s the real trick question: Why does toothpaste come out of that tube when you squeeze it? Ready for this: Because that’s what’s in it. I know, I know, this is mind-blowing stuff. So why am I thinking about toothpaste this morning? Because of what Jesus said here. Let’s talk about it.