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.
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.
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.
This nuances of the Greek language are important. When we read 2 Thessalonians 3 to be speaking of “idleness,” as in “not-working,” it makes space for poor Christian euphemisms such as, “God helps those who help themselves.” That’s not what the text is saying. A deeper reading is necessary for a faithful understanding.
2 Thessalonians is written to remind us of what matters most: that we hear the words of Christ, that we follow the teachings of the Lord, that we share God’s love with everyone around us, and that we rejoice in all things, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for each of us.
“We’ve always done it that way” is one of the least faithful responses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Spirit gifts us for far greater freedom than being slaves to our past. There is a more faithful way.
We need to rethink our usage of the word “evangelical.” Evangelism doesn’t require that we tell others how sinful their lives are. Evangelism stems, from a Biblical perspective, from acknowledging that in Christ we are a new creation, and are, as such, gifted with the ability to see others through God’s lenses.
Labor Day is not a celebration of how great our workforce is, it is a reminder that we are called to be something greater than we have been before. Hebrews 13 offers a similar call to the faithful. It is not a text of how great we are at living our faith, it’s a call to how much greater we should be as a people of faith.
When you hear the story from the ears of the Jews to whom Jesus was speaking, you begin to realize the Samaritan wasn’t seen to be such a “Good” guy. In fact, Jesus using the Samaritan as the faithful one was offensive at best. This kind of radical love is missed when we assume the Samaritan was just a kind passer-by.