Where are you going? What is your aim? I find myself asking these questions while reading Acts 3.
This is where we find a well known story from Acts. Peter and John go to the temple to worship and meet a beggar. Instead of giving them money, they offer him Jesus. And he went walking, and leaping, and praising God.
If I would have been in the same situation, I’m not sure if I would have reacted the same way as Peter and John. I probably, like I do now, would have tried to scurry along without making eye contact. Continue reading →
I’m not a Catholic, but like most have kept up with what’s happening over in the Vatican. I watched as Benedict left for the last time as the Pope, and followed the announcement of the new Pope yesterday. In all of this, I have watched and shook my head as the American media has tried to understand what it means to be a leader in the church. They have talked about the power that the pope has in the world and speculated (quite a lot) about whether or not they would elect an American. Listening to the news, it all began to sound like election time in America. They were asking who was qualified, what kind of changes would this person make, and did they have the right leadership skills to be the Pope. It was all primarily about the power and position of the papacy.
Then yesterday, the church and the new pope did something that messed with the media’s perception of “power” in the church. They elected someone that no one in the media considered and he choose a name that truly demonstrated what Christian leadership is all about. They elected man who has served the poor and chose to forgo some of the privileges that his previous role allowed him. They elected a man who is known for his act of washing the feet of 12 AIDS patients in 2001. Then they announced the name of the new pope. His name is Francis. He took the name of a very famous saint who is famously humble. Saint Francis chose a life of poverty and spent his life serving the poor and preaching the gospel. Of all the names he could have chosen, I think that this name is quite appropriate for someone who is supposed to lead the church. When it comes to being a leader in the church, it’s not about power or wealth. It’s not about having the most impressive resume or being the smartest guy around. It’s not about being able to dominate the boardroom or be at the top of your field. It’s about being like Christ. Jesus Christ, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Phil 2:6-8 NIV)
While I’m not a catholic, I am impressed with the new pope’s choice of name and I hope that he lives up to it. I hope that he emulates the life of Francis and the life of Christ. I hope that he leads in humility and shows the world that Christian leadership is different from political leadership. He is a man with a lot of influence, and I pray that his influence spreads the gospel and shows the love of Christ to those in need.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27 NIV)
Jesus Christ is a somewhat controversial figure. Everyone has or is looking for an answer to the question, “Who is (or was) Jesus Christ?” There is very little denying that Jesus was a real person who really walked the earth in the first century AD, but one you get past that there are many divergent answers. The most popular scholarly thing to do in 21st century American culture is to join the quest for the “Historical Jesus.” This view examines Jesus through a historical lens and sometimes discounts scripture as a valid source for understanding Jesus. Apart from discounting scripture, I think that it is valid and helpful to see Jesus through the lens of first century Jewish (and Roman) culture. Where this can fall short, however, is looking at the bigger picture of who Jesus is beyond his life on earth. This is why Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola have writtenJesus: A Theography. It is their belief, that while these historical pictures of Jesus are helpful, they are lacking the life of Christ before and after incarnation.The ultimate goal of their book Jesus is to give a picture of Christ in light of the entirety of scripture and not just within the Gospels. Continue reading →