Monday, October 24, 2011

How the Song of Songs Helps Us Better Understand Love for God

One of the books I'm reading for my Christian Ethics class this quarter is Ellen Davis's book Getting Involved With God: Rediscovering the Old Testament. She is basically looking at various books and passages in the Old Testament and revealing how important they are for us today. So far it has been an excellent book.

In one of the chapters, she explains how beneficial the Song of Songs is for the church today. She points out how we have often misunderstood this book and many of us consider it to be a little too racy to be in the Bible. However, the Song is incredibly beneficial to us because it speaks of divine love and sexual love as a healthy expression and desire in the midst of covenantal faithfulness.

One thing she points out how toward the end of the chapter is how the Song affirms that "longing for intimacy with God is a necessary desire for a healthy soul." She goes on to mention how there are two kinds of love of God. The first is grateful response to experiencing God's mercy, generosity, and blessing. This is frankly how I generally understand love for God and probably the way most of us do. However, look at how she explains this second love:
But there is another love that is even more precious. It arises in us not from anything God has done for us, but spontaneously, becuase our souls were made to delight simply in God's being, and God's being with us. One great modern mystic, Rav (Rabbi) Abraham Isaac Kook, taught that all the rich imagery of the Song of Songs exists precisely for the sake of making vividly real this rare love that does not derive form material benefits. The Song shows us love in its purest form.
i was struck by this because it's hard for me to think of times I don't express love for God apart from seeing his love or grace given to me. I'm reminded that God is worthy of my love purely because he is God, before I benefit from anything he gives me (including forgiveness, sonship, etc.). His majesty and glory and holiness and beauty are aspects that I need help seeing. I'm thankful that the Spirit is alive and is faithful to increase this type of love for him.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How I Wish the Homosexuality Debate Would Go

Trevin Wax created a great dialogue about how he wishes the homosexuality debate (in the media) would go. Thinking back to several interviews I've seen with prominent pastors who handle this issue poorly, I would love to see someone handle it in this way. Here's how he starts off:
Host: You are a Christian pastor, and you say you believe the Bible, which means you are supposed to love all people.

Pastor: That’s right.

Host: But it appears to me that you and your church take a rather unloving position when it comes to gay people. Are homosexuals welcome to come to your church?

Pastor: Of course. We believe that the gospel is a message relevant for every person on the planet, and we want everyone to hear the gospel and find salvation in Jesus Christ. So at our church, our arms are outstretched to people from every background, every race, every ethnicity and culture. We’re a place for all kinds of sinners and people with all kinds of problems.

Host: But you said there, “We’re a place for sinners.” So you do believe that homosexuality is sinful, right?

Pastor: Yes, I do.

Host: So how do you reconcile the command to love all people with a position on homosexuality that some would say is radically intolerant?

Pastor: (smiling) If you think my position on homosexuality is radical, just wait until you hear what else I believe! I believe that a teenage guy and girl who have sex in the backseat of a pick-up are sinning. The unmarried heterosexual couple living down the street from me is sinning. In fact, any sexual activity that takes place outside of the marriage covenant between a husband and wife is sinful. What’s more, Jesus takes this sexual ethic a step further and goes to the heart of the matter. That means that any time I even lust after someone else, I am sinning. Jesus’ radical view of sexuality shows all of us up as sexual sinners, and that’s why He came to die. Jesus died to save lustful, homo- and heterosexual sinners and transform our hearts and minds and behavior. Because He died for me, I owe Him my all. And as a follower of Jesus, I’m bound to what He says about sex and morality.


Host: Are you saying that you can’t be gay and Christian?

Pastor: No. I’m saying that you can’t be a genuine Christian without repentance. Everyone – including me – is guilty of sin, but Christianity hinges on repentance. We agree with God about our sin, and we turn from it and turn toward Jesus. When it comes to Christianity, this debate is not about homosexuality versus other sins. It’s about whether or not repentance is integral to the Christian life.
Read the whole thing


Sunday, October 16, 2011

New Swithfoot Album: Vice Verses

Last Tuesday night, I saw Switchfoot perform at the Wiltern here in LA. It was the first time seeing them in concert, despite having been a fan of them for the last 13 years or so. It was an excellent show with tons of energy and creativity (including a spot on cover of Sabotage by the Beastie Boys!)

I'm amazed at how they seem to get better and better with each album, and heir latest album, Vice Verses, continues that trend. I highly recommend getting it ($8.99 on Amazon). Here are just a few of the songs that I'm really digging:

The War Inside:
Yeah, it's where the fight begins
Yeah, underneath the skin
Between these hopes and where we've been
Every fight comes from the fight within

I come alive when I hear you singing
But lately I haven't been hearing a thing
I get the feeling that I'm in between
A machine and a man who only looks like me

I try and hide it and not let it show
But deep down inside me I just don't know
Am I a man if I feel like a hoax?
The stranger in the mirror's been wearing my clothes...

No, I'm not alright
I know that I'm not right
Feel like I travel but I never arrive
I wanna thrive not just survive

Where I Belong:
On the final day I die
I want to hold my head up high
I want to tell You that I tried
To live it like a song

And when I reach the other side
I want to look You in the eye
And know that I've arrived
In a world where I belong

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

I am 2: Empowering Collective Transformation

My good friend Dan Bowling has recently started a non-profit called I am 2. It is aimed to meet the needs of children all over the world, but in a fresh and revolutionary way in order maximize impact. As Dan says, " employes the collective power of social networks to give individuals a simple, interactive, and viral way to support non-profits providing food, water and protection for children here and around the world."

Check out this great video to understand a little more what that means and consider supporting the movement.

iam2 from iam2 on Vimeo.

Also, check out the website.