If the most fundamental and original sin of mankind is pride, the most fundamental virtue is humility. It's Christ-likeness in microcosm. It's not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought. It's giving ourselves away for Christ and his gospel, which is also to say giving ourselves away for others.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if we could remember as far back as the moment of our birth—that slimy, turbulent transition from the comfort of a warm, dark womb into the unkind cold, harsh bright light of life outside. What emotions, thoughts, hopes, and fears would accompany such a memory? As it is, I can only remember about 27 of my 30 years... my memories begin around age three. When Jesus turned 30, could he recall the moment of his own birth? That epic, heavenly-hosts-rejoicing mystery in which God incarnate dwelled within a teenage girl's womb one minute, and cried and breathed in Bethlehem air the next? Was his memory God-like and infinite, or was it as limited as mine, recalling only shadows and bursts of nascent consciousness from his earliest years?
Among the many questions prompted by a close viewing of this finale sequence—and indeed, the whole film—is the identity and meaning of the mystery woman seen with Jessica Chastain’s older and younger self in the “Amen” sequence. She shows up in part (usually just her hands) and in full on a number of occasions throughout the film--especially at the beginning of Jack’s life and in the film’s final fifteen minutes.
The subject of a "theology of food" is one I recently explored in a cover story for Biola Magazine: "Soul & Stomach." Though it's hard to cover such a massive topic in a four page article, I'm proud of how the piece turned out. For a more expansive treatment of the subject, check out my book when it comes out in 2013.
This, I think, is the greatest, most mind-blowing quality of God's grace, while at the same time being the hardest for humanity to swallow: His grace is sufficient for all, and it saves unconditionally, based not on our merits or relative levels of moral stature. We're all sinners, fallen short of the glory of God and alienated from him, and thus we all need exactly the same grace from Him to repair the breach.
Why did God create human beings to need to sleep? There's really no reason he needed to. He could have just as easily created humans to be creatures alive, alert and productive 24 hours a day. Instead, he created us to be people who sleep about one third of our lives.
It's not about me. I'm just a speck of dust on a tiny grain of sand on a little planet in a medium sized galaxy, which itself is a speck of dust in the scope of the cosmos. And yet, ironically, this is what Jesus appeared to be too, that dark night in the dirty manger so many years ago. Indeed, humility can do great things for the world.
A major biblical theme as it relates to food is thanksgiving for God’s provision. One of the most interesting food-related stories in Scripture is the miraculous appearance of manna each morning for the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness (Exodus 16:4). That they gathered only enough for one day on each morning demonstrated the extent to which they had to trust and depend on God’s faithfulness. For them, the manna was a very tangible, honey-tasting reminder of why eating food is an act of thanksgiving.
I want to challenge myself, and my fellow Christians struggling with cynicism, to take in that aroma and let it fill the homes in which the we live, the workplaces in which we work, and the endeavors we pursue. Let it cause us to be galvanized and inspired to act, to work, to not give up or despair, even when the world seems so foreign, distant, and hellbent on chaos.
As Christians, if we truly believe that each human is a precious being—that, as C.S. Lewis put it, “there is no mere mortal… Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses”—then shouldn’t we be seeking to truly know others rather than to simply “keep tabs on” them through short updates, photo albums, and wall posts?
Because it's impossible (at least for me) to read enough new release books in one year to even begin to make claims to a “best of” list, my book list is strictly a “favorites” list. The following are five books that came out this year that delighted me, provoked me, informed me and thrilled me… books I’ll remember and will recommend to others.
The goodness of the world—the “all is not lost,” salvageable beauty of it—is legitimated in the God-made-flesh moment of Christmas. In that epoch of history, the climax of so many centuries of hopes and fears and expectations, heaven literally came down to earth and took up residence within it. A new kingdom began—physical, tangible, unexpected. Christmas is the celebration of life as it can be lived in the light of that very real hope, in the knowledge that, though we will have trouble, we should take heart because Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33).
James Davison Hunter's new book, To Change the World, has been stirring up buzz since it came out this spring, and for good reason. It's an intellectually robust, complicated, nuanced treatment of a crucial, continually difficult subject matter: The relationship between Christianity and culture. How do Christians relate to culture? How do they transform it? Is this even the right question to ask? For those familiar with this blog and my prevailing concerns as a writer, you know that this is a subject near and dear to my heart
At the end of the day, the path to unity requires each one of us to take a step back to critically examine our views and humbly acknowledge that we can learn from others.
For many eschatology-minded Christians, one of the "signs" that the end of the world (i.e. the return of Christ) is upon us will be a great "end times harvest" of souls... a great awakening across the globe in which the gospel spreads at a rate far greater than ever before, and all corners of the globe hear the name of Jesus. Based on verses like Matt. 24:14, many believe that Christ's return will only come when this "proclaimed throughout the whole world" thing happens.