“I love you.” Men can be so petty, so prideful, and hold back those words. Yet there is no good reason for it. The more awkward it feels, the more urgent it is. From the dads I admire I’ve learn that a father needs to say, “I love you,” and he needs to say it often.
Why do Christians feel the need to divide over the issue of homosexuality or gay marriage? What makes this issue different from, say, differences in church polity or views on baptism? I think that the question is even asked is a strong indicator of the pervasive spirit of the age in the church, but Kevin’s answers are detailed, thorough, and strong, particularly point #4: “[C]ommending homosexuality involves the core of the gospel because it urges us to celebrate a behavior of which the Bible calls us to repent.” This is exactly the point many of us were trying to make about the initial World Vision decision; calling fair what God has called foul directly compromises the integrity of one’s claim to provide distinctly Christian ministry.
Our small group spent a considerable amount of time both before and after film hearing from Aronofsky himself and co-writer Ari Handel. Both were interested in listening to and responding to our theological and critical reactions. My immediate response was that this was a film with profound moral and theological imagination. My thoughts below are my conclusions after several weeks of reflection.
“All roads lead to the same destination.” While I can understand the sentiment of inclusivity, this idea pictures an evil God. Religious pluralists often reject exclusivist positions for positing a cruel God who only made one way to reach him. But if all religions are true, then God is cruel. And not just cruel—God is an incompetent, cosmic child-abuser. If religious pluralism is true, then God is the father in the second scenario. He saw the train coming, yet he decided to pull the first lever and kill his son, rather than pull the second lever.
Our minds crave consistency in our beliefs and behaviors. We want to appear logical, to ourselves and to others. And when faced with evidence which contradicts our beliefs, our minds work to eliminate the psychological discomfort.
This is crucial for pastors to get as they preach on a weekly basis.
Often, the truth that you are preaching will contradict what people sitting their know, believe or want to believe or know.
Here are 3 ways to do this:
State the obvious. Talk about what is clear to everyone in the room. If something seems weird or unusual in the Bible, talk about it. Think about what the Christians believe: God created the world out of nothing, Noah built an ark and the world was covered in rain killing everyone but those in the ark, God speaks through a bush, God becomes human and is born an infant to a virgin, Jesus rose from the dead. That’s just a sampling, but things that seem crazy. When you get to something that seems hard to believe, talk about it. Andy Stanley says, “this gives you credibility with the unchurched.”
Help them through the discomfort. Talk about the difficulty in believing things, what changes the gospel will bring to lives and how difficult change is. Everyone knows change is hard. This is why we hold on to baggage and hurt for so long, it is why people don’t stick with diets and workout programs. Because change hurts. It is uncomfortable. Talk about it, give ways out of it.
Imagine the future. When you apply the bible in a sermon, don’t just talk about how to live it out. Talk about how life will and can be different when this truth is applied. Say something like, “Imagine what life can be like next week, next month if you live this out, if you believe this” and then explain it. Often, people struggle to apply the Bible because they can’t imagine how great life can be if they live it out, they only think in the loss column.
This past Saturday was an awesome night at Revolution. Katie and I taught together on God’s blueprint for marriage and life from Genesis 2:15 – 3:19. If you missed it, you need to check out the podcast. We did a live Q&A at the end of each service that is at the end of the podcast. There were some great questions that I’m sure will be helpful for you. You can download it here.
This Saturday is going to be just as great. It is Mother’s Day weekend and we are continuing our series The Story of God and we will be looking at Noah, the flood and what we can learn about God and his view of sin and grace from that story. It is a story that many people know, but there is so much in it that is incredibly relevant and important to our lives.
For Mother’s Day, we will have a little something special for all the women, mother or not, married or single, in our hopes of blessing the women in our church. Husbands, this gift does not negate the gift you should be giving to your wife. Ladies, this is an easy week to invite the men in your life (husbands, sons, grandsons, son-in-law, brothers), tell them for Mother’s Day you’d like them to attend church with you. It promises to be a very powerful night as we look at how God’s grace is available to all and is the answer to sin and beats sin.
So, do whatever you have to do to be at Revolution this week (and bring someone with you, you never know how a simple invite can make an eternal difference). If you brought someone for Easter, call them and invite them back. It makes a huge difference to personally invite someone back to Revolution. An easy way to invite someone is to send them an e-vite.