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Archive for March, 2010

Incredibly interesting interview with Mosab Hassan Yousef, a former Hamas terrorist who converted to Christianity, over at the Wall Street Journal .

Obviously, going from Islamic terrorism to Christianity was not a process that earned Yousef celebratory salvos from his family or former friends.  His father disowned him, none of his family or former friends will speak to him, and now Hamas has threatened assassination.

Among many other explanations Yousef offered for his conversion, there was this statement:

“There is a logical explanation…Simply my enemies of yesterday became my friends. And the friends of yesterday became really my enemies.”

It’s hard to read a statement like that and not think of Jesus’ words regarding the cost of following him:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to turn
‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law –
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’  ~Matthew 10:34-36

The primary reasons Yousef allowed the divisive “sword of Jesus” to split his family was Christ’s teachings on love, grace, and forgiveness in contrast to the cruelty of Hamas.  Cruelty, he believes, that was fueled by a “fanatic god” that could not compare to the Love of the Christian God.  Thus, he identifies  the root cause of Islamic terrorist acts to their theology and worship of Allah (hence his statement that Muslims need to be “liberated from their god.”)

As the journalist interviewing Yousef says, “These are dangerous words.”  Dangerous, for sure, but also pointing to an idea that should be common sense–namely, that our ideas about God and our subsequent worship of God have real-world consequences. Our beliefs in God (or gods, as it were) inform our daily decisions and serve as a framework from which we order our lives. In Yousef’s case, he goes from an Allah-worshiping terrorist to a Jesus-worshiping evangelist. A remarkable transformation, and one grounded on the distinct qualities of the Christian God–love, grace, and forgiveness.

We wish Yousef the best as he wrestles through some very difficult issues.  May Jesus’ other words about family offer some comfort:

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.” ~ Mark 10:29-30

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What’s the difference between a plain old theology and a good theology?  Let’s find out!

Check it out here…

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Justice is the condition where there is no evil or suffering, where wrongs are made right, and where all tears of sadness are wiped away. Justice is the act by which we purge evil from our community.

God decided to begin his kingdom in the middle of history because he wanted to invite us into helping out with his work—God asks us as citizens of his kingdom to participate in the spreading of his kingdom and all the things that are involved with living in the kingdom. Certainly, this premise raises all the inevitable political, social, and economic controversies that weary our hearts and minds. The means through which we participate in God’s work may be appropriately debated, contextualized, and worked out with fear and trembling. But underlying all notions of God’s justice is the premise that we, as citizens of God, participate in God’s work of restoring the world by rooting out evil in our midsts.

When we do justice, we are doing the very things that spread the kingdom of God and introduce true love to the world. How is this so? Well, one of the things we need to learn is that doing justice is not simply giving to the poor or feeding the hungry–those are perfectly good things themselves, but those acts are only one small part of the whole—rather, justice is the act by which we as guardians and citizens of the kingdom of God make that which was once evil sacred, just as we were made sacred by the work of the Holy Spirit to “justify” us before the Lord. Doing justice is thus the act by which we make things sacred by participating in the purifying work of the Holy Spirit.

Because many people simply aren’t able to participate in the life of the kingdom, they first must be justified, or made sacred, before they can even begin to enjoy the celebration of Christ’s lordship. Therefore, we must go about making the world around us a place where it is possible for people to become justified, so that they can enjoy the Trinitarian love of God as it is reflected in the church. This is justice. God’s call on those who enjoy the way of life in his kingdom is to introduce God’s way of life to others who are unable to even have the opportunity to experience the life of the kingdom .

Justice is the work that people in God’s kingdom do in order to create the conditions where life in the Kingdom flourishes and God’s love reigns free. That is why we feed the hungry, fight poverty, fight inequality, fight for the right to life. That is why we treat each other with dignity, with respect for each other. All the kind and loving acts we do to and for each other are performed in order to bring the glory of God’s kingdom to each other, to our neighbors, and to the world. God died for us so that his kingdom and his love could be experienced by the people in the world. We bring that kingdom to people when we act justly towards them in love. That is what it means to make something sacred—you are creating the conditions for them to experience the fullness of God’s love. So when you do justice, you are giving people the very thing that will allow for God’s kingdom to flourish.

Therefore, let us practice justice and bring into the world the glory of God’s kingdom as he intended it to be. When we give to the poor, when we feed the hungry, when we fight for life, or when we just try to fix the problems of the world, always remember that the reason you are fighting is to create the opportunity for people to experience the fullness of God’s love, to experience life in his kingdom.

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God didn’t need to create us, but he did so graciously so that we can experience the glorious communion that exists within himself.God wanted to share the wonderful experience of his glorious fellowship, and so he created us in his image. Being made in God’s image means that we share some of the character or faculties that make God God. That is, we can think and we can feel, and we can share those thoughts and feelings with others. And when we do so, especially when we do so for others, we experience communion, a communion that is analogous to the communion of God himself.

We experience this communion within the playground of creation. Our communion is not simply some spiritual, invisible, intangible reality that you can’t see or touch. God created the universe so we could experience communion in a very real way—a way we can see and touch, know and understand. So, let us explore this communion in the universe that God has made for our enjoyment.

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