These words by Matt Perman apply as much to non-physical resources (like your theological and apologetic knowledge) as they do to any other kind of resource:
It makes no sense for us to live in a society of abundance while half the world lives in great need, and not be diligent and creative and eager to figure out ways to use our abundance to help meet those needs.
When we look around and see our comfort, privilege, and affluence, we shouldn’t fall into the trap of asking “how can I get more of this?” As Kingdom-minded Christians, our first thought should be: “how can I use this technology/money/time to serve—especially those in greatest need?”
I was reading John 13 this morning and thinking about how central being a servant is to Christianity. This utterly amazes me every time I read it:
Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end…. Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
Knowing that all things were His, and that He had come from God and was going back to God—that is, knowing His infinitely high position above all those around Him—Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. Let that sink in for a moment. The text actually intimately connects these two facts about Jesus—His high position (and its corresponding abundance) and His humble act of service. His service is, in fact, the way in which He loved them.
From the incarnation to the cross, this was Jesus’ life; He humbled Himself to serve others. He defined love for us as service. To love is to serve. To be great is to be a servant. It’s good to seek to increase your knowledge, but consider Matt Perman’s words: How can you use the abundance you already have to serve those who are in need of it?
If you like apologetics, you don’t want to miss taking a course from Gary Habermas on the resurrection. Do yourself a favor and look at the amazing deal going on right now (until midnight on Sunday) at Credo Courses for a 30-part video (or audio) class on “The Resurrection of Jesus.”
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There is no more important event in human history than the Resurrection of Christ. This event not only evidences God’s intervention and love into the human condition, it tells the world that Christ is Lord.
The great thing about the resurrection of Christ is that it is not something God asks believers to accept with blind faith. This is an event that happened in human history with hundreds of historic details that people are called to examine to gain confidence in their faith in Christ.
That is why this 30-session Credo Course is focused solely on the historicity of the resurrection of Christ. There is not a more important event for Christians to know inside and out.
Tim recommended Credo Courses on the blog earlier this year. See what he wrote here.
Some listeners to Wednesday’s podcast were troubled by Greg’s statement that “part of being a human being before God is getting married and having a family.” As single people, this seemed to them to be a painful denigration of their humanity—a claim that single people are failing God and are not fully human.
I don’t think that’s what Greg intended to convey, but I do understand the pain involved with being single, and I have thought quite a bit about how I should view marriage and my singleness as a Christian. I’m posting my response to the commenters here because I’m sure there are many others out there who grieve their singleness.
Getting married and having kids is part of being human (i.e., it's an aspect of humanity that has played a central role in human societies throughout time, created by God to teach about the union of Christ and His church, contribute to our sanctification, etc.)—given to us for our good and His glory, but it doesn't follow that if one does not take part in those things that one is not fully human, nor does it follow that one has failed God if one doesn't marry and have children (only if one despises those things do I think one fails). God calls some to one thing, some to another. I understand the pain of not taking part in these things (believe me), but that doesn't mean I ought to minimize the role they play in humanity.
The problem in our culture today is that it does minimize the value of marriage and children. That is the error that was being addressed on the show. In a time when culture devalues marriage and children, that is the time when the church ought to speak of their great value as creations of God. This is the time we are in.
Am I grieved that I'm not taking part in these things? Absolutely. It is likely that Jesus also grieved over not having these things, so we're in good company there. But these things, great as they are, are merely shadows symbolizing what's to come for us as Christians—i.e., our union with Christ in the resurrection, being united to Him forever and enjoying our place in His body of believers. True, we don't have the shadow (marriage and children) now, but we will one day have the reality. And that will be much, much better than any shadow that points to that reality in this life.
But even though it makes us sad, let's honor that shadow now, not deny or denigrate it (and, in fact, the grief itself honors it because our longing for it testifies of its goodness and beauty), knowing that the complete fulfillment of it will eventually be experienced by us. We know better than most what it means to long for its fulfillment, and that understanding of longing is something we can contribute to the body of Christ, as we should all be longing for its fulfillment rather than being content with the shadow.
I hope those words will bring some peace to those who need it.
The sixth rule is Calvin’s and states Seek to persuade, not antagonize, but watch your motives! “It is possible to seek to be winsome and persuasive out of a self-centeredness, rather than a God-centeredness. We may do it to be popular. On the other hand, it is just as possible to be bold and strongly polemical out of self-centeredness rather than God-centeredness. And therefore, looking very closely at our motives, we should be sure our polemics do not unnecessarily harden and antagonize our opponents. We should seek to win them, as Paul did Peter, not to be rid of them.” The goal is not to vanquish an opponent or the people who have been led astray by him, but to win them all to the truth.
“We should seek to win them, not to be rid of them.” That’s always a good reminder!
I received an email objecting to one of Greg’s commentaries on tolerance. In the commentary, Greg explains that tolerance “involves three elements: (1) permitting or allowing (2) a conduct or point of view one disagrees with (3) while respecting the person in the process.” In other words, only disagreement calls for toleration; otherwise, it’s simply agreement (or apathy). But not according to the email I received:
You said on Feb 4, 2013 - "Tolerance is reserved for those we think are wrong."
Wrong. Tolerance is removing the right/wrong judgement from your view of other people & beliefs, as long [as] those people and their beliefs don't impede the freedom or well-being of others.
What you're describing is holding your nose and lying about being tolerant. That's not tolerance, that's empty condescension.
"We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant." - Karl Popper
Of course, this response perfectly illustrates Greg’s description of the current understanding of “tolerance,” and it struck me, as I read it, how dangerous this view of tolerance is. Here’s what he’s really saying: “It’s wrong for you to think my views are wrong. Therefore, if you think my views are wrong, then I have a right to shut you up.”
Keep in mind that his complaint here isn’t even about “intolerant” actions; it’s about beliefs. He argues that “intolerance” means holding a judgment in your mind against someone else’s beliefs. And intolerance (i.e., incorrect beliefs), according to him, should not be tolerated. How far people will go to uphold this new “tolerance” remains to be seen. Considering the fact that 40% of Millennials favor government censorship of speech, the future doesn’t look promising.
Notice also that his reasoning doesn’t work the other way around—i.e., Greg wouldn’t be allowed to say to him, “‘Tolerance’ means that if you think I’m wrong, then I have a right to shut you up,” because baked into this new definition is a preference for a particular set of political positions (i.e., anything his side deems essential for the “well-being of others”). If you agree with those positions, you’re declared “tolerant.” If you disagree, you’re intolerant.
This new definition of tolerance is nothing but a political tool to accomplish the very opposite of tolerance.
On Sunday, I returned home from another Berkeley Mission trip, where I intentionally exposed high school students to some of my atheist friends in the Bay Area. For the last six months, we’ve taught apologetics to these high schoolers from Upland Christian Academy. Now it was time for them to “get off the sidelines and into the game” and engage non-Christians with the truth. Of course, my atheist friends are more than happy to oblige, so they meet with our missions teams, challenge them with a short lecture, and then dive into some rigorous dialogue.
Without fail, a couple of our atheist guests will contend, “Religion is the cause of most wars.” This cultural mantra has been uttered so often and with so much force, it has come to be accepted as an undeniable declaration. Prominent atheists like Sam Harris contribute to the chorus of voices, arguing religion is “the most prolific source of violence in our history” (The End of Faith, page 27). Richard Dawkins claims, “There’s no doubt that throughout history religious faith has been a major motivator for war and for destruction.”
But as we trained students for this trip, we equipped them with a simple question to expose such claims: “How did you come to that conclusion?” (also known as Columbo Question #2). We simply taught students to recognize when someone makes a claim and then to request their supporting reasons. When our atheist presenters were challenged to provide justification, they could only offer up the Crusades, the Inquisition, 9-11, or vague references to Islamic terrorism. Certainly we recognize religion’s role in these examples, but three or four references cannot support the claim that most wars are caused by religion.
Not only were students able to demonstrate the paucity of evidence for this claim, but we helped them discover that the facts of history show the opposite: religion is the cause of a very small minority of wars. Phillips and Axelrod’s three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars lays out the simple facts. In 5 millennia worth of wars—1,763 total—only 123 (or about 7%) were religious in nature (according to author Vox Day in the book The Irrational Atheist). If you remove the 66 wars waged in the name of Islam, it cuts the number down to a little more than 3%. A second scholarly source, The Encyclopedia of War edited by Gordon Martel, confirms this data, concluding that only 6% of the wars listed in its pages can be labelled religious wars. Thirdly, William Cavanaugh’s book, The Myth of Religious Violence, exposes the “wars of religion” claim. And finally, a recent report (2014) from the Institute for Economics and Peace further debunks this myth.
We didn’t stop there. We showed students it gets worse for the atheists’ claim. A strong case can be made that atheism, not religion, and certainly not Christianity, is responsible for a far greater degree of bloodshed. Indeed, R.J. Rummel’s work in Lethal PoliticsandDeath by Government has the secular body count at more than 100 million...in the 20th century alone.
Our students were able to see that a simple examination of the facts relieves religion from blame for most of the world’s wars. In addition, we were able to help cultivate in students a healthy skepticism of atheistic claims. If the skeptic will shout such an unsubstantiated claim so loudly and with so much force, what other skeptical claims might quickly fall apart under rational scrutiny?