This is a different season for us all. We will be faced with a new normal for the coming weeks, perhaps months. And yet, even as we socially distance ourselves, as a people of faith, we have a witness of faith in Jesus Christ that teaches us to ensure we are no isolating ourselves from the needs of the community. In the feeding of the multitudes, Jesus teaches us that what we have to offer is sufficient, and that with our provisions, God will care for us all.
“Jesus wept.” Such a profound and compact Biblical witness to the faith of Jesus Christ. But Jesus’ tears may surprise you. These divine tears are not just a witness to Jesus’ deep love for humanity, but are a reminder of the depth of Jesus’ faithfulness to his calling as Savior.
Before he performs the miracle of calming the storm, Jesus rebukes the disciples for their fear and their lack of faith. We tend to skip over the rebuke so that we might marvel at the miracle. But skipping the rebuke is just our way to try and tame the story. Jesus isn’t a circus act to be observed, he’s the manifestation of God’s love in flesh, whose faith is a model for faithful discipleship.
Why do we go to church on Ash Wednesday? Surely it’s not to be reminded we’re broken. The world is good to telling us how broken we are, do we really need the church to do the same? We go to church on Ash Wednesday not simply to proclaim, and to be marked, as a broken and sinful creation – but to remember that we have something better to proclaim.
When Paul says that we are saved by “the faith of/in Jesus Christ,” what does he mean? Paul believed this faith was a faith that tore down walls, not a faith that built walls up. Paul believed this faith removed the demarcations that had divided the community, instead of being a faith that further splintered communities. This was not any faith, this was the faith of Jesus Christ – it is the Lord’s faithfulness that offers righteousness and claims us as God’s children.
The English language often fails to speak to the breadth and depth of the original Biblical languages. A deeper look at the Greek and Hebrew makes very clear: the Biblical Word is not Lord; the Bishop is not the Lord; the Church is not the Lord; Jesus Christ is Lord.
It’s time we stop using the Biblical Word to exclude people who have been called – gifted, inspirited, and empowered – to serve God. Though the English translation has been used to silence women in the church, a quick study of the Biblical text shows that God has always called women to lead the faithful. We cannot hide behind faulty translations; we must proclaim the good news of great joy in Jesus Christ, that all people are called, empowered with wisdom, and instructed to be found mature in the Lord.
In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul had a specific focus in his teaching, and it wasn’t covenantal, faithful, sacred, and permanent relationships between two people of any gender … it was acts that abused, broke covenant, and forced unfaithful, non-sacred, adulterous sexual acts on others. To claim the Biblical truth, we must look to the historic text, and claim a more faithful, long-standing, and traditional understanding of Paul’s teaching.
The Biblical text never promises wealth and prosperity to the faithful. What it does promise, is peace, well-being, and unity among the gathered faithful. The English translation fails us when it replaces God’s vision of shalom, with our worldly visions of extravagant wealth.
The Biblical witness can not be summed up by any one passage of the scriptural text. When passages are cherry picked, it most often leads to a watered down gospel or failed truth that does not stand the test of the Gospel on the whole. How we treat the word “slave” is a key example.