Friday, April 17, 2009

Finding Jesus Christ: "No love of God in your hearts"

Click here for an explanation about this series: "Finding Jesus Christ."

It may have been awhile since you've seen the Gospel of John movie that I recommended you watch for this series. To refresh your memory, watch the first three minutes of this clip (John 5:25-47).

Once again we note Jesus' claim to be the Son of God who was sent by his Father so that we might believe in him. It is the never ending theme of Jesus' teaching. What kind of a person would make such claims, say such things? There are really only two options: he is either telling the truth, or he is more completely out of line than anyone in the history of the world.

Did Jesus really speak to the crowds as unapologetically as this actor (Henry Ian Cusick--who also stars in Lost) portrays? We know that Jesus angered the religious leaders enough to eventually get himself killed, so yes, I'd say this is probably an accurate portrayal of how things went down whenever Jesus got on a roll. People were shocked and offended. Plots against his life quietly brewed. All in a day's work when you walk the streets of first century Jerusalem claiming God is your Father who sent you with a message from heaven.

If someone claimed to come from heaven, I suppose we shouldn't expect anything less. In this speech we cut in right as Jesus is talking about the judgment he will execute at the end of the world. All of us will be dead by then, but on that day he says we will all hear his voice, get up bodily out of our graves, and wait to hear his pronouncement on our eternal fate. I hope you took that in, because then you would have noticed two things. On one hand, it is possibly the most outrageous statement a human being has ever made in the history of outrageous statements. On the other hand, Jesus states it with the kind of vividly-detailed description that someone only gives when they fully expect to say "I told you so" when it actually happens.

He knows the crowd doubts his words, but he plows ahead anyhow. The three witnesses he brings forth to verify his claims are witnesses that the Jewish crowd itself embraces: John the Baptist, Jesus' own miracles, and the (Old Testament) Scriptures. He's basically saying, "Even you guys revere the authority of these witnesses, so why won't you listen to their testimony about who I am?" The logical implication of their own beliefs is to believe in him, so why won't they believe in him? As far as arguments go, this is classic Jesus.

He played the lawyer, making his case, and he concludes by switching to the judge, condemning them for having no love of God in their hearts. "You have not heard his voice or seen his face," Jesus says, referring to his own intimacy with the Father. He implies that he is bringing God's own message when he pronounces them to be spiritually blind, self-serving hypocrites who care more about themselves than the God they claim to worship.

Again, it's about what we would expect from someone claiming to bring a message from heaven--if we were to give serious thought to what God might say to us if he were to send his Son to speak on his behalf. It would be hard to imagine a holy God, who sees the secret thoughts, motives and devices of every human heart, sending down a message telling us that we're awesome folks and he can't wait to meet us--wouldn't it?

Monday, April 06, 2009

Your brother whom you have seen

Denis Haack, founder and director of Ransom Fellowship, responds to the recent controversy in the conservative Christian blogosphere over Wesley Hill's article ("'A Few Like You': Will the Church be the Church for Homosexual Christians?") that appeared in RF's magazine.

Haack writes,

What Wes achieves in his piece is to explain how faithful Christians whose homosexuality is not transformed by regeneration face a life of deep loneliness. And he asks—properly—whether the church will be the church for these believers. This is hardly a radical position, nor should Wes’ piece be unsettling to those who take the Scriptures seriously. He is not asking for compromise; on the contrary Wes submits to God’s Word, even at personal cost. He is not asking that we dumb down our understanding of the faith; on the contrary Wes champions Christian orthodoxy . . .

All these tangents, all these red herrings [brought forward in the controversy over his article], sadly, answer the good question that Wes has raised. Sadly, much of the church will not be the church. It is too committed to the reigning political ideologies of our secular age. At least have the integrity to say so, instead of trying to confuse the issue with all sorts of side issues.

I have to say that I agree with Denis Haack. From what I've seen, the overall response to Wesley's article has been pretty disappointing.

To my fellow conservative Christians: The fact that many of you are so quick to attack a fellow Christian who is making a commitment to lifelong celibacy--who is making the ultimate sacrifice in order to take a stand with you in condemnation of "the homosexual lifestyle"--all because he admits he has been unable to change his homosexual orientation, shows that there is something really wrong with you. Really, really wrong.

1 John 5:20: "If someone says, 'I love God' and hates his brother, he is a liar. For the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen."

Saturday, April 04, 2009

"Through My Eyes" trailer

I've found a way to post the trailer for "Through My Eyes," the new documentary by Gay Christian Network:

I also recommend that you read Fiesty Charlie's review of this film. Her excellent summary takes the words right out of my mouth.

"Through My Eyes"

Eight and a half years I've been writing and blogging on "Christianity, homosexuality and the Bible," yet I haven't come across a single resource I could recommend that strikes the exact chord of my concern about this issue until now.

This morning I watched a 46 minute documentary called "Through My Eyes," directed by Justin Lee and distributed by The Gay Christian Network. The film consists of a series of interviews with young Christians in their teens and twenties reflecting on what it is like for them to deal with their homosexuality as Christians. The film was created by Christians for a Christian audience. There is no inappropriate language or content. There isn't any music or narration to manipulate the direction of your emotions. In fact the whole presentation of these interviews is fairly raw and direct. I could easily see this film being shown to a Sunday school class or a campus youth group as a springboard for discussion.

I'm glad I've already watched it once through so I could get my crying done and out of the way before I share it with anyone else. Since I've met and corresponded with so many people over the years who have expressed the exact same sentiments as the subjects of this film, I know that what they're talking about is real.

So, for the first time in the all the years I've been writing on this subject, I'm going to really, REALLY recommend a resource to you, which is this documentary.

The trailer for "Through My Eyes" is here.

You can buy the DVD through Amazon here.