This post will “piggyback” on Jon’s “Teaching Teens about Temptation.” I had the privilege last night of speaking to some of the teens at my church on the topic of responding in a godly way. I will share with you a little bit of what I shared with them and steps I take to be respond godly. I hope this is beneficial.
Intro: When I was 13, my little league team won one of the North Carolina regional little league baseball titles. This meant that we would have the privilege to compete in the state tournament. For some reason or another, there was one kid in particular on that team with whom I was constantly at odds. On the way back from the regional tournament as is typical with young boys there was some smack talk going around. Eventually the situation began to escalate a little and this boy, named Robbie, leaned over the seat and spit on me.
God has called us, his children, to be salt and light. He calls us to be holy as He is holy and yet when “life” hits it is not always so easy. We constantly face the challenge to act like the World, like “the old man.” So I asked our teens, in light of what Robbie did to me…
• What would a “worldly” reaction look like?
• What would a godly reaction look like?
Matthew 26:45-58: The passage that I want to look at shows two men acting in very different ways. Peter does not respond godly and Jesus does. I think the actions displayed here, and the thoughts behind the actions are indicative of why we do not respond godly and if we address these thoughts and actions, we can work on responses that imitate Christ. All sins are at their heart gospel matters, and in this passage, one man demonstrates that He understands the cross/the gospel. The other does not. So throughout this passage, ask yourself with whom do you identify?
Context: Jesus and his disciples are in the garden, Jesus is experiencing great agony – - why? Because he understands the cross/the gospel and what that means for his mission and purpose. He understands that the cross means being forsaken by His Father, and he is preparing to take on the cross. The disciples are sleeping, he is praying and that is where we pick up the passage.
So when we face situations like Robbie spitting on me, why do we respond ungodly? What do we need to address in our lives? Do you identify with Peter or Christ?
I. Peter responds ungodly because he is not prepared (v. 41)
41” Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
• In a positive manner, we need to be preparing ourselves because we will daily face situations that demand a godly response. In this passage, one man is sleeping the other is praying. One understands that this is a life and death matter, the other does not.
• Are you preparing yourself for temptation? Are you preparing yourself to respond godly? You need to ask yourself the question “Am I prepared?” In the context of this question, some in our youth groups and in our churches are not prepared to respond godly. Some of them may not be prepared because they are not believers. Others may be believers and not prepared because they approach the spiritual life with apathy, both sets of people need to grasp the gospel and prepare to live under the Kingship of Christ. Are you prepared?
II. Peter responds ungodly because he does not trust in God or God’s purposes for his life (51-54)
51” And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”
• Again, this is a gospel issue. Peter does not trust in God so he tries to bring about what he sees as justice in the situation for himself by cutting off an ear. Dr. Russell Moore points out that Peter is acting like a Darwinist. Peter believes that the strongest survive. Sometimes, especially in the context of teaching teens, we do not understand just how far Darwinism has infiltrated even the church. We all seek to make things right by might. That can mean using your fist to respond to a “luggie”, or that could mean insults, or any number of other things. For the believer, however, when we seek to establish justice we do not trust in God who is a just judge.
• In our flesh, it is very east to identify with Peter here. I would love for Jesus to commend Peter for “taking up arms”, or to call down the fiery warriors of heaven. But instead we are called to something radically different than “Natural Selection.” When we are wronged we are to trust in God and his purposes for our life. We are trust that even terrible things are helping to build our faith and are helping to conform us to the image of Christ – - if you identify with Jesus here and understand this it will help you take on the real injustices that come your way.
• See Peter wants justice but he wants it on his own terms (justice is a good thing; we all want justice because we are made in the image of a just God). However, so often we want it on our own terms (justice) – so we do not forgive persons who wrong us because we think if we do that means what they did to us was not wrong. God is calling us to something radically different. Jesus has the ability to fight back, he says Peter I could call down an army like no man has ever seen and he even says to Pilate later on, if my Kingdom were of this world we would be taking you on.
• Instead, Jesus understands that all the injustices that we commit on a daily basis are about to be laid on him. He understands that if he commends Peter and joins in the fight then you and I are in hell right now.
• If we begin to trust God and His purposes for our life, then we can understand that we are called to go through trial and tribulation knowing that God is using this to conform us to the one who took all the injustices of the world in his own body on a tree. If we understand just how sinful and unjust we are then we should be able to forgive, we should be able to respond to injustice in a godly way.
III. Peter does not respond godly because he does not understand the cross – - and that the souls of the world hang in the balance (v. 56)
56 “But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”
• Finally, we must understand that this is a cross-understanding issue. If we understand that we are sinners, then we understand that the cross is central to our own forgiveness and is therefore central to how we respond to others. If we understand that all the injustices of the world were laid on one man and that the justice of God fell on Him at Golgotha then we will not seek to lash back, to fight back, because we will understand that injustice has already been taken care of.
• Here is the deal – if you respond godly you must grasp these two points.
i. IF the wrongdoer (Robbie spitting) is a believer you are to forgive them because that sin has already been taken care of. Your king suffered on a cross 2,000 years ago for this sin and if you hold on to that sin you are holding on to something that Christ has already died for… You do not understand the cross.
ii. If an unbeliever, (Robbie spitting) sins against you, do you really believe that God will take care of that, or must you? Scripture tells us that on the final day that injustice will be taken care of (even every idle word will be held to account). Do you believe in justice and the judgment of a righteous God? We all seek after and want justice, but often times we fail to realize that justice for us apart from the work of the cross is hell. If we recognize this fact, this well help us respond to believer and unbeliever in a way that embraces humility. It will help us respond as our King responds; He puts an ear back in place. We will not be able to do that, but just maybe our responses can bring about a different kind of healing. So forgive seeking the redemption of the unbeliever that wronged you. If he does not then one day that action will be held to account, but that is not something to rejoice in. Instead, that is something to weep over, if we understand our own redemption.
• This is why constantly in scripture it says the one who forgives will be forgiven, the one who shows mercy will see mercy – - why? Because the one who forgives, who shows mercy, who is wronged and does not seek to fight back shows that he understands the gospel
• Responding Godly matters because the World is watching you – That is why this is so important, it could affect lost people around you. In addition, your heavenly father has called us to be a people set apart; this is a life and death matter.
Much of the content to this post was influenced by a Dr. Russell D. Moore sermon entitled “Why Jesus is More-and-Less Violent than Allah, Planned Parenthood, and Me: Mercy, Ministry, and the Kingdom of Christ.” The second part of this blog will entail five things I told the teens I use to help me respond in a Christ-like manner.
A few days ago I got to speak to the teens in our church about temptation. Temptation comes to ALL of us. There are many temptations that teens face: “fooling around,” internet pornography, peer pressure, tearing down others to make yourself look cool, drugs and alcohol, smarting off to parents, self-righteousness among the holier-than-thou churchy teens, etc. I confessed to our teens a particular temptation I gave in to over and over again while in High School, cheating. I remember the day before our Freshman English mid-term. The teacher was reviewing and telling us how to study. She wanted to make one final appeal for us to take the test seriously, so she held the exam up and said, “This is your exam right here in my hand. It’s got a lot of things on it, so you need to study hard tonight and be ready to take it tomorrow.” She quickly put the test into a drawer in her desk as she said, “There’s a few minutes left in class so turn around and start reviewing in groups.” The guys in my group made me an offer (a temptation) that I could not refuse. The plot was hatched. When the teacher began to help another group we quickly undid the latch that locked the outside windows. When the bell rang, everyone got up to go to lunch and the teacher locked the door to her room. After a few minutes we went around the outside of the building, hoisted a guy on our shoulders who opened the window to the classroom and climbed down into the English classroom. He got the test out of the drawer, and we went to make copies of it in the library. The next day we aced the test…
Temptation comes to everyone! In fact, the Bible even tells us that temptation came to King Jesus (Heb. 4:15). He is able to sympathize with us because He was tempted too. Yet, there is one difference between us and the King. He never gave into the temptation (in the context of the stories the Gospel writers are showing us that Jesus succeeded where Adam and Israel failed, and of course where we fail as well). We have given in. Because of that difference, when many Bible teachers come to the story of Jesus’ temptation at the hands of Satan in Matthew and Luke 4, they teach it as if Jesus is our example in how to overcome temptation. How? You beat temptation by hiding God’s Word in your heart so that you don’t sin (cf. Psa. 119:11). Jesus did a good job in AWANA’s as a child and did His scripture memory so that he was able to use the Bible to fight off sin. So, you need to learn the Bible and then you can fight off temptation and sin. But, that’s not the way we are intended to teach the story of Jesus’ temptation. Two reasons: 1) We haven’t hidden God’s Word in our hearts, and we have sinned against him, so we are already guilty before God and under judgment. 2) We CAN’T perfectly hide God’s Word in our hearts and keep from sinning! We have a major problem, and the Bible tells us that the wages of giving into temptation are death and Hell (cf. Mark 9:42-48).
So, the question is, “How is the story of Jesus doing what we could never do good news for us?” The answer is that is the Gospel! He did for us what we could not do for ourselves. In fact, the story of Jesus defeating Satan here is parallel to the story of David and Goliath. Jesus is anointed with the Spirit at His baptism and goes out to fight the Devil. David is anointed King of Israel, receives the Spirit, and then he goes to the camp to take on the Philistine Giant. What Israel was unable to do and too afraid to do, David did on their behalf. After their champion took the Giant’s head, then the Israelites fighting from that victory were able to rout the Philistines and put them to flight. We so often want to identify with brave David when we should be identifying ourselves with the cowering Israelites. Jesus, like David, is the champion and hero who fought the battle that we could not fight, but he didn’t fight a Philistine Giant. He fought the Wicked One who wields the power of death, and He crushed his head. That’s how this story is good news.
As Mark Driscoll often says, “He lived the life we could never live, a life without sin. And, He died the death we deserved to die, the death for sin.” So, every time we give in to temptation it should point us to our champion who won the battle we cannot win. If we turn to Him in faith he will save us from sin, death and judgment, because we will be counted before God as living the life that He actually lived! That’s Good News!
The second thing this story teaches us is that those who believe in Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit are given a new life where they are now actually enabled to wield the Sword of the Spirit to fight off temptation. We are given a new ability now to hide God’s Word in our hearts and fight off sin and temptation.
The story of our Warrior King crushing the head of Satan and succeeding where Adam, Israel, and ALL have failed is great news. It means that those who have given in over and over to temptation from the glow of a computer screen in the dark, or temptation to yell “I hate you” to your parents, or temptation to let your hands wander in the back seat of a car, or temptation to steal a mid-term, have a hero who can rescue them. They also have a hero who can change them. So, pay attention in AWANA’s, youth group, and when the preacher preaches the word, so that you can hide the word in your heart and do battle with the Evil One, because the victory has already been won!
Carson, D.A. The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005. Pp. 137.
This post is the first in a series of two. This post summarizes the book and provides many pertinent quotes (which are bolded) for our examination. The next post will examine the implications of this work for Southern Baptist Life.
Carson’s work The Cross and Christian Ministry explores 1 Corinthians to deliver leadership lessons for the Gospel minister. Dr. Carson’s work presents the gospel, and the cross in particular, as the sole focus of a Christian minister for effective leadership. As Carson states, “the cross not only establishes what we are to preach, but how we are to preach. It prescribes what Christian leaders must be… it tells us how to serve and draws us onward in discipleship until we understand what it means to be world Christians… the message of these sections from 1 Corinthians must be learned afresh by every generation of Christians, or the gospel will be sidelined by assorted fads” (9-10).
The opening chapter focuses on the preaching of the Gospel minister. Carson says, “We must return again and again to the cross of Jesus Christ if we are to take the measure of our Christian living, our Christian service, our Christian ministry” (13). It is not merely a matter of the gospel being a superior philosophical system to the “debaters of this age”; the cross is in fact where God devastates human wisdom and pride. No other system can stand the test of the cross because without the cross there is no reconciliation. The message is the cross has been revealed through “the foolishness of what was preached,” and the blessing is that it comes to all kinds of people who eschew the wisdom of this age. Carson points out that Paul separates the lost into two categories, the Jew looking for a miraculous sign and the Greek looking for wisdom. The irony, in light of “human wisdom”, is that the cross is the greatest display of both God’s power and His wisdom. Carson says, “all of the world’s rebellious self-centeredness is precisely what ensures that it cannot understand the cross, while God’s wise plan of redemption hinges on God himself taking self-denying action to bring about the consummation of his authority” (23).
In addition, Carson warns against doing “gospel work” purely through human ability and plans, and by doing so pushing the cross to the periphery. Carson points out that Paul’s message reaches a vast array of people and cautions against the modern Western Evangelical attitude which is “deeply infected with the virus of Triumphalism, and the resulting illness destroys humility, minimizes grace and offers far too much homage to the money and influence and ‘wisdom’ of our day” (29). Salvation is freely given through the cross to all kinds of people, and leaves no room for pride in one who has been elected by God apart from merit. Carson warns us to be careful to not compromise the message of the gospel with persuasive oratory, as the power of the person or speech must not replace that of the cross. Carson asks, “Has the smoothness of the performance become more important to us then the fear of the Lord?”(38) Carson concludes the chapter with what is most important, “Biblical preaching emphasizes the gospel and constantly elevates Christ Crucified” (40).
The second chapter focuses on the cross and the work of the Holy Spirit. Carson contrasts those that are “In Christ” because of the work of the Spirit, and those “outside of Christ.” The first contrast is between the wisdom of the cross and the “wisdom” of this world. Although the cross is the only possible means of reconciliation, it is unrecognizable to those who miss the wisdom of a crucified King. This flows directly into Carson’s second contrast, namely that the wisdom of the cross is only recognizable to those whom the Spirit reveals it. Carson offers a word about preaching in light of the work of the Spirit, “That same Spirit prompts the spiritually-minded… to preach it (the cross)… they will strenuously avoid all ostentatious display; they will abandon all cheap manipulation; they will be happy to embrace the scandal of the cross, for the cross is what redeemed them” (56). He continues “They (gospel ministers) will be wary of ‘gospel’ preaching that talks much about God meeting our needs and enabling us to feel fulfilled, if it is not squarely anchored in the message of the cross” (56). Carson points out the final contrast between the natural man and the one indwelt by the Holy Spirit, so that the message of the cross is foolish to the one not indwelt. This means all the more that believers will be at odds with the non-believing world because the Spirit enlightens believers, and it is only through the Spirit’s revelation that the message of the cross is known.
Carson next moves to the implications of the cross for factionalism in the church. Paul, Carson points out, is showing the Corinthian church that their factionalism indicts them of gross spiritual immaturity and substantiates they miss the meaning of the cross. Paul even warns them that if they persist in this immaturity that they should examine their faith. Next, Carson points out that factionalism ignores two points, that “Christian leaders are only servants of Christ and are not to be accorded allegiance reserved for God alone” and that “God cares about His Church , and he holds its leaders accountable for how they build it” (75). Ministers are to be servants, recognizing that they will be accountable for how they minister, yet the Corinthian church does not recognize that it is God who causes growth and their “high praise” of the “servant” is why they are immature believers. Carson gives some pertinent and sharp warnings now to the leaders themselves because they are accountable for how they build the church. He says beware of: what you build a church with, diverting attention from the gospel while hoping to win the love of the world, heresy, peripheral matters claiming preeminence, building with “superficial conversions”, and particularly “Entertaining people to death but never fostering the beauty of holiness or the centrality of self-crucifying love” (83). He continues “(this) will build an assembly of religious people, but it will destroy the church of the Living God” (83-84). Finally, factionalism ignores the wealth of Christian heritage, which Carson points out by asking, “Is there nothing to be gained from wide exposure to the company of saints in many parts of the world who have expressed their adoration of the Savior with richness of hymnody we can never exhaust, but which we ignore to our detriment” (89)?
Next, Carson draws out the implications the cross has for Christian leadership. Carson demonstrates that Paul is most certainly detailing leadership principles that are in contrast to the Corinthian ideal. Carson establishes that the Christian leader must recognize that he is a servant and is entrusted with the gospel. As such, he must strive to be approved by the one who has appointed him to the task, no one else. The congregation the minister serves must also recognize this in their leader and refrain from judging the under-shepherd simply because he is not the kind of preacher or leader to which they are accustomed. Carson says the leader must live in the climate of the cross, willing to suffer and follow a crucified Lord and to devote his life to discipleship. Carson points out how problematic this is in our culture as, “many of us are well-to-do… with little incentive to live in vibrant anticipation of Christ’s Return. Our desire for the approval of the world often outstrips our desire for Jesus’ ‘well done!’ on the last day” (108). The battle plan to fight this is to begin at the cross with “repentance, contrition, and renewed passion not only to make the gospel of the crucified Messiah central in all our preaching and teaching, but in our lives” (108). Finally, the leader encourages and enforces the way of the cross among his people and fosters transformation by it, both in “creed and conduct” (110).
The final chapter speaks of the “world Christian.” In stark contrast to the so-called “worldly Christian,” this believer displays allegiance to Christ and Kingdom above all. This type of Christian is committed to the church, considers other citizenships secondary to that of the Kingdom, and is of sacrificial mind to the mandate of evangelization and disciple making. Carson states that this type of Christian becomes “all things to all men” without damaging the message of the Gospel; knowing that “there will be times when it is necessary to confront culture” (122). Carson explains that we must be willing to give up Christian “rights” for the sake of the lost and our “weaker” brothers. He ends the section telling us that the way of the cross will encourage peaceful dialogue about differing agendas, including topics like music styles. This flows into his next point that our aim is the salvation of the world. Ministers should strive to be able to minister in any context. Carson ends the chapter with a call for the minister to follow the example of our Lord, meaning we must die to self; we must give up our “real rights” for the sake of the perishing. Of our actions we must ask, “How will this course of action contribute to, or hinder, the work of the Gospel?” (132).
This post is a little different from some of our normal posts, but it does fit with the vision and purpose of Baptist21. The church needs to be able to interact with the culture in which it lives and ministers. We need to have winsome answers for the questions they are asking. This will help us engage culture with the Gospel, because we will be able to move from something they know (i.e. lyrics from a song) to something they do not know (the Gospel).
“Viva La Vida” is Coldplay’s most successful song ever. It was their first chart topping song in both the US and Great Britain. The song is of great interest to many, not least because of the quality of the artistry, but also because of the lyrics themselves. Here are the lyrics to the song who‘s title literally means “long live life”:
I used to rule the world Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone Sweep the streets I used to own
I used to roll the dice Feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing “Now the old king is dead, long live the king”
One minute I held the key Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand
I hear Jerusalem bells a-ringing Roman cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can’t explain Once you’d gone there was never
Never an honest word That was when I ruled the world
It was a wicked and wild wind Blew down the doors to let me in
Shattered windows and the sound of drums People couldn’t believe what I’d become
Revolutionaries wait For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string Oh, who would ever want to be king?
I hear Jerusalem bells a-ringing Roman cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can’t explain I know St. Peter won’t call my name
Never an honest word But that was when I ruled the world
Hear Jerusalem bells a-ringing Roman cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can’t explain I know St. Peter WILL call my name
Never an honest word But that was when I ruled the world
A variety of interpretations have been proposed for this song, and here are a few of them (this list is of the most quoted, not exhaustive): 1) The Catholic Church: some say that this song is about the decline of the Roman Catholic Church. At one point the church was the major world power, but it has now fallen from grace and is seen by many as an “unholy“ institution. Keys to this view are the references to: the keys (Matt. 16), St. Peter, Roman Calvary Choirs, and Missionaries (perhaps the Crusaders). Apparently, the band developed the album while touring Latin American and Spain, some of the most densely Catholic places on Earth. 2) Napoleon / King Louis XVI / French Revolution: because of the artwork on the album and some of the references to beheading, many believe it refers to events from the time of the French Revolution. Some think it refers to the death of Napoleon. One person asked, “Who else had the potential to ‘rule the world’?” He ruled and held power over his enemies, but then he fell. He is going to lose his head to the guillotine. Others think it can refer to the beheading of Louis XVI and the “sound of drums” alludes to his approach to the guillotine, while revolutionaries wait for his head. 3) Chris Martin or anyone’s fall from grace: some think it is simply about how he [others] once had power or dreams when he [they] was [were] younger, but they’ve all escaped him [them] now that he’s [they’ve] gotten older.
So, what does it mean?
Let me state upfront that I do not believe there can be certainty on this question. The band has not told us, though they have given some clues. Given the themes of the song and the album, I would like to offer an explanation that sees this song as fitting in the biblical storyline of dominion, life and death in the Cosmos itself. That does not mean that I believe the writer consciously wrote the song to fit in the biblical storyline, though certainly he does intentionally include much biblical imagery. Rather, I think he is discussing things that are in every human heart: fear of death and love of life.
The song is about a man with power who loses everything, even his own life. It fits well in the biblical story of the fall of humanity (Adam in particular) from its (his) status as king over the cosmos into the curse of death. Also, I think the Bible bears out the fact that this storyline is played out in the lives of all of Adam’s children, so even though the writer may have been describing himself or someone else, all of humanities’ stories fit in this larger story.
God created Adam to “rule the world,“ including the “seas,” but Adam fell from power when he (and Eve) obeyed the voice of the serpent (Satan, cf. Rev. 12). Now, he sweeps the streets he used to own. He is a slave not a king. He used to wield power over his enemies and had the responsibility to tend the garden and crush the serpent’s head, but he did not do it. Now, he is a dead king, and there is a new king, Satan, over the World (cf. Eph. 2). One minute he had the keys of the kingdom, then his kingdom collapsed because it was on shifting sand (cf. Matt. 7). In the first chorus, we see that when he ruled the world there were honest words, but since then there are not honest words anymore (reference to sin?). It is astonishing that he went from being God’s vice-regent over the world to what he is now. The revolutionaries of Satan, sin, death, the principalities and powers wait for his head/death. He is a sinner doomed to death who will not be granted access to God’s Kingdom. But, it appears that in the last chorus he says that Peter will call his name, and there is hope of a reversal of his fortunes. Humanity may not be doomed after all.
Given the depressing picture of the song, it is ironic that he titles it “Long Live Life.” Perhaps he believes Life will ultimately triumph over Death. Indeed, the entire album, which is called “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends,” is dealing with the themes of life and death. Some of the titles to the tracks are: Life in Technicolor, Cemeteries of London, Lost!, and Death and All His Friends. Some of the lyrics include: “For the curses to be broken,” “I see God come in my Garden but I don’t know what he said for my heart wasn’t open (another reference to Eden?),” etc. The track entitled “42” includes lyrics about there being something more than death and a hope in life after death. He begins by stating that maybe the dead are not dead and they live on in our memories, but then it seems something more is going on when he says, “Time is so short, and I’m sure, there must be something more…You thought you might be a ghost. You didn’t get to heaven but you made it close…” In the final song the singer says, “I don’t want to follow death and all his friends.”
When interviewed in Q magazine about the line in Viva La Vida about knowing St. Peter won’t call his name, Chris Martin said this, “It’s about… You’re not on the list. I was a naughty boy. It’s always fascinated me that idea of finishing your life and then being analyzed on it. And this idea runs throughout most religions. That’s why people blow up buildings. Because they think they’re going to get lots of virgins…That is the most frightening thing you could possibly say to somebody. Eternal damnation. I know about this stuff because I studied it. I was into it all. I know it. It’s still mildly terrifying to me. And this is serious.” Regardless of how much meaning Chris Martin intended with all of the biblical imagery he placed in these songs, what is clear is that he is wrestling with the issues of life, death and judgment. Our consciences ultimately condemn us all (cf. Rom. 1-2). The fear of death and judgment is common to all (cf. Rom. 5; Heb. 2). Losing everything, including power and riches, before an ultimate death in which you can take nothing with you is the lot of every man. It is ironic that a singer who from all appearances has everything would recognize this fact better than some in our churches who’s love of money is choking them (cf. Mark 4). Indeed, we need to understand that it profits nothing to gain the whole world and lose your life! It should not surprise us that pop culture will write on these things in ways that intersect with the biblical storyline. There is a grand meta-narrative of which ALL humanity is a part and tries to find ways to make sense of it all.
The conclusion to that Grand Story that makes sense of reality is something that I hope Coldplay and others will find. There is a reversal to Satan’s dominion and the reign of death. His name is Jesus. Humanity failed to rule the world and put all its enemies under its feet (cf. Gen. 1-3; Psa. 8). But, Jesus has succeeded as King over the Cosmos and is having all his enemies put under his feet (Psa. 110; Heb. 2). Humanity brought death into the world. Jesus suffered death and then overcame it through resurrection from the dead (Heb. 2; 1 Cor. 15). Those who are found in Him will not follow Death and all his friends! They are freed from this fear of death that held them in bondage. They will be raised from the dead by their King to fulfill God’s intention for humanity in ruling the world! We live in a culture where the fear of death and the love of life fills our songs, our sitcoms, and our movies. We have an answer for those fears and we have hope for the longings. The answer is more than a message. The answer is a person who is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25). Viva La Vida! Long Live the King!
NT Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (it spends a lot of time dealing with these themes and is a very important book)
It was going to take a lot of focus, commitment, teamwork, energy, skill, and discipline for Adam to accomplish God’s will, subduing and ruling over the whole earth. Sadly, as we all know, he didn’t have what it took. Genesis 3 tells us that his loss of focus and commitment to God’s purposes cost us everything. Fortunately for us, God graciously stayed committed to his purposes to have a people exercising dominion over the earth. We all know that these purposes come to fulfillment in Jesus Christ, whose focus and faithfulness was seen as he set his face like flint towards Jerusalem where his commitment to God’s will would cost him everything.
In these last days we find ourselves in the midst of the fiercest warfare of all time, between the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of Satan. By God’s grace, the church of Jesus Christ is piercing into the darkness with a gospel that turns enemies of the cross into its most faithful soldiers. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that those who are called to lead the church in this battle must have extraordinary, Christ-centered discipline, focus, commitment, energy, and skill.
Unfortunately, many who desire to lead Christ’s church misunderstand the means of producing leaders and the end for which leaders are produced. Listening to lectures on discipline or watching great warriors for Christ in action isn’t the primary means by which leaders are produced. While these things both help, there is nothing that can replace the time and energy that is put into cultivating these qualities into our lives.
The young men who led Christ’s church in her early days knew the critical nature of discipline, focus, commitment, teamwork, and skill, having grown up working on farms and in family shops where deficiencies in these areas weren’t just seen as lazy, they were lethal. Sadly, young men today don’t grow up with these types of responsibilities and expectations, many times ending up as soft as their handshakes. Having missed out on the practical means by which leaders are produced, many young men end up destroying their ministries and damaging Christ’s church before the Devil even bothers to take notice of their work.
We believe sports, basketball in particular, are a great means by which a young man can cultivate the Christ-centered characteristics that our churches so desperately need and the demons so intensely fear. When a man commits to working with a band of brothers under the authority of a coach to discipline himself so that he and the team perform at the best of their capabilities to the glory of Christ, leaders are being produced. When a man skillfully endures beyond his capabilities to do just what is needed to make his team successful, Christ is pleased and the Devil begins to take aim.
In contrast with almost every basketball team in the land, the Boyce basketball program is not primarily concerned with you becoming the best basketball player possible (Don’t worry, it’s on our radar!). Instead, the program is fundamentally concerned with forming and shaping you into the type of man that will be fit for gospel ministry. We are offering the opportunity for athletes to join a band of brothers using basketball as a means of developing the types of skills that God has called us to use for his Son’s glory and the good of the church. In a culture that loves sports too much, we offer athletes an invitation to join a team that knows the insignificance of its game. And in a church culture that loves the kingdom of Christ too little, we summon our athletes to a team that sees the eternal significance of every aspect of life, including basketball, when seen in relation to the development of soldiers for Christ’s kingdom.
Fortunately, the kingdom of Christ won’t always be at war. The Bible tells us that there’s coming a day when all of the redeemed will rule with Christ over a new, sinless creation (Rev. 5:10; 21-22). And it doesn’t take a theologian to figure out that the redeemed will need to be disciplined, focused, committed workers to undertake a task as difficult and exciting as this. Jesus says that he’s using everything we undertake in this life to prepare us for that dominion, even basketball.
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