Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Am I random

The answer to the question "Am I random?" may well be yes. That is, some of you who know me well may consider me to be a bit scatterbrained and forgetful. But of course, that's not really what I'm asking. I'm asking the question "am I the product of random combinations and blind chance?"

Biology is certainly not my speciality but at both school and college mathematics was something I enjoyed and did reasonably well at. This morning I read an article on the mathematics of random chance that I found really interesting. Whatever your view on the age of the earth and the evolution debate the article itself is fascinating as a mathematical argument. Have a look and let me know what you think.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Not Going to Church

 "I've decided to have a week off church because you don't need to go to church to be a Christian so there is no obligation for me to go"
Ever heard anything like that? There are other variations on it: "I don't need to read my Bible every day because there is no command that tells me to in the Bible." and so on and so forth.

 Ben (Assistant Pastor at BABC) was preaching on Jesus' words about divorce on Sunday night and came out with something quite excellent. He said that with divorce the wrong question to ask is "is it allowed" because that's basically being legalistic about it. The issue then becomes what can I get away with because LAW is the way to view things.

 He applied it more broadly and said if we say "There is no command to go to church so I wont" is being legalistic about it (albeit inverted legalism). I live my life by what is permitted and what is commanded seems to be a million miles away from the kind of relational priorities that Jesus had.
Better questions are:
How will this affect my relationship with Christ?
How will this affect my relationship with others?

 I bet you've never heard some one who doesn't read their Bible and doesn't go to church a legalist eh?
It's amazing how deceitful sin is.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Song of Solomon

The Song of Solomon is one of the books of the Bible that lots of people really don't know what to do with. At first glance it is a love poem between Solomon and one of his brides, and as such it's intimate and at times surprisingly explicit. Recent sermons I have heard on the book have taken it primarily as a love poem that speaks into the pre-marriage and marriage setting. In other words its about human love and the wonder of a rich gift  God has given us. I found listening to material that treats the book like this very helpful and enriching on many levels. The church has been shy to talk about these things because we don't want to cheapen something precious but in so doing we have left a whole generation of people uneducated about what God thinks of sex and marriage. Song of Solomon has lots to say to couples today and it would be a huge shame not to take its wisdom to heart.

But, in many writers, particularly those of years past Song of Solomon was primarily about Jesus and the Church, it was a metaphor for the deep relationship that exists between the heavenly bridegroom (Jesus) and us.
Listen to how Spurgeon, a great Baptist preacher from 150 years ago speaks about it:

"His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers." 
Song of Solomon 5:13
Lo, the flowery month is come! March winds and April showers have done their work, and the earth is all bedecked with beauty. Come my soul, put on thine holiday attire and go forth to gather garlands of heavenly thoughts. Thou knowest whither to betake thyself, for to thee "the beds of spices" are well known, and thou hast so often smelt the perfume of "the sweet flowers," that thou wilt go at once to thy well-beloved and find all loveliness, all joy in him. That cheek once so rudely smitten with a rod, oft bedewed with tears of sympathy and then defiled with spittle-that cheek as it smiles with mercy is as fragrant aromatic to my heart. Thou didst not hide thy face from shame and spitting, O Lord Jesus, and therefore I will find my dearest delight in praising thee. Those cheeks were furrowed by the plough of grief, and crimsoned with red lines of blood from thy thorn-crowned temples; such marks of love unbounded cannot but charm my soul far more than "pillars of perfume." If I may not see the whole of his face I would behold his cheeks, for the least glimpse of him is exceedingly refreshing to my spiritual sense and yields a variety of delights. In Jesus I find not only fragrance, but a bed of spices; not one flower, but all manner of sweet flowers. He is to me my rose and my lily, my heart's- ease and my cluster of camphire. When he is with me it is May all the year round, and my soul goes forth to wash her happy face in the morning-dew of his grace, and to solace herself with the singing of the birds of his promises. Precious Lord Jesus, let me in very deed know the blessedness which dwells in abiding, unbroken fellowship with thee. I am a poor worthless one, whose cheek thou hast deigned to kiss! O let me kiss thee in return with the kisses of my lips.
I confess I get a bit nervous about this kind of language. It reminds me of the "Jesus is my boyfriend" kind of mushy, sentimental nonsense that gets written and sung in many churches today. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against modern songs, nor against devotional songs, but I do get worried that some of the language we use about Jesus is just weird.

But...then I got thinking about the amazing connection that many of the Christians of the past had with Christ. I see in some of their writing a deep reverence for the Lord Jesus and a wholehearted commitment to knowing him and serving him that is often lacking today in those of us who call ourselves his followers. In an effort to be good at our exegesis (understanding what the Bible is saying) and to be passionate about doing church well I wonder if we are in danger of pushing devotional connection to Jesus to one side.

Maybe I can make Song of Solomon too much about me, and maybe I can make marriage too much about me. If after all God is the designer of marriage and marriage itself is a picture of our relationship with God then I must at some level retain a joy about marriage that is not disconnected from God but rather profoundly grateful for what he has given me and also learning from it what connecting to him means.