“Does Christ come merely to improve our existence in Adam or to end it, sweeping us into his new creation? Is Christianity all about spiritual and moral makeovers or about death and resurrection — radical judgment and radical grace? Is the Word of God a resource for what we have already decided we want and need, or is it God’s living and active criticism of our religion, morality, and pious experience? In other words, is the Bible God’s story, centering on Christ’s redeeming work, that rewrites our stories, or is it something we use to make our stories a little more exciting and interesting?”
– Michael Horton, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Books, 2008), 24.
Category Archives: Christianity
I had the privilege of preaching at Atmosphere Church’s Good Friday service last week. What an amazing time of gathered worship. Together we gazed into the sovereign irony surrounding the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus. The music, the teaching, the prayer, the celebration of the Table caused me to see and savor my bleeding, dying Lord even more.
Together we explored the ironies of the Cross through the lens of Eucatastrophe.
What is Good Friday? Good Friday is an oxymoron, a day of irony, of painful paradoxes. Irony makes us… laugh and think more clearly. Irony makes us see familiar things with fresh eyes.
But Good Friday is not just a day of ordinary irony. It is THE day of the THE Ultimate Irony. It is the most catastrophic day in all of history! But it’s a good catastrophe. It is a Eucatastrophe, the Great Eucatastrophe. The execution of Jesus on that Roman Cross on that Friday afternoon nearly two thousand years ago was the greatest, most complete, the ultimate Eucatastrophe ever and that will ever be.
J.R.R. Tolkien coined this phrase to explain how good things can come from catastrophes, how unpredictable redemption can be won in the midst of unimaginable loss. But Tolkien’s standard was not fiction or fantasy like his Lord of the Rings. He believed all of the happy endings in all of our fairy tales were but faint echoes of the real gospel of the real good news. Speaking of the story of Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection, Tolkien said: “There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true…But this story is supreme; and it is true.”
Tonight we stare into the day of irony, the day of Eucatastrophe, this Good Friday. With God’s help let us stare into the good catastrophe of the cross with fresh eyes.
- First we will see how Good Friday is a Eucatastrophe for Jesus.
- And then we will see how Jesus’ Eucatastrophe is good news for us.
“The church is not a theological classroom. It is a conversion, confession, repentance, reconciliation, forgiveness, and sanctification center, where flawed people place their trust in Christ, gather to know and love him better and learn to love others as he has designed. The church is messy and inefficient, but it is God’s wonderful mess–the place where he radically transforms hearts and lives.”
–Paul David Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, p. 116
Ok. After reading this post I’m willing to admit two things…
- Maybe, just maybe, my love affair with Starbucks has been merely an allusion based on cool marketing. (I’m willing to give Dunkin another try.)
- Most of us don’t really know how awesomely good the Gospel of Jesus really is. Period.
Do you agree? Read What the Church Can Learn From Dunkin Donuts and let me know.
One of my favorite blogs is Of First Importance. Every daily quote challenges me to trust that the gospel really is good news! I was really encouraged by today’s and I think that you will be too, especially in light of all the temptations to doubt God’s goodness for us in Jesus.
“Ready for some good news? . . .
Jesus Christ is stronger!
Stronger than my fears about the future or my shame over a past that cannot be altered though I wish so much I could do some things differently.
Stronger than my tired prayers with well-worn phrases and weary pleas.
Stronger than my need to know now, and have the trial terminated.
Stronger than the enemy of my soul who would discourage me with my own failings and disillusion me with the faults of others.
Such a simple truth—Jesus Christ is Stronger. ‘Stronger than what,’ you ask? Stronger than whatever would cause you doubt or discouragement today.”
—James McDonald, “Jesus Christ is Stronger”
When I was listening to this sermon a few weeks ago this question really struck me. The way you answer this question makes a cosmic difference in your life. Here’s a whole chunk of the sermon. It’s worth the read/listen. I love Chandler’s love for God and his church and those who don’t know the love of God in Christ…yet.
It took me a while to become a believer because stuff I would hear was just not true. Like stuff that was said in church was just completely untrue. Almost every preacher I heard early on would talk about lost people as if we were all just like these ogres who hated our lives, like we were just at home every night in a fetal position going, “I hate it all. I never smile or experience joy.” It’s like at any moment we’re going to murder someone. And that was just kind of the picture painted, and I was like, “Are you kidding me? I love life.” That’s not true, but here’s what is. I think you can have a good marriage and not know Jesus. I do. My neighbors, in their sixties and never been church folk, don’t plan on starting any time soon. They’ve got a great marriage. Like I watch him—he serves her. They’ve got a great marriage. So I’m not saying they can’t have a good marriage, but I will say this. You will never know what the fullness of that relationship was designed to be outside of Jesus Christ. You can have good sex and not be a believer in Christ—you can—but you will never know the biblical word dode, mingling of souls, which is the biblical word for sex in the Old Testament. You will never know dode outside of Jesus Christ. And so what I want to teach is that He is the fullness of all things. And we don’t follow Him because He gets us those things; we follow Him because He is better than those things even to begin with….We don’t follow Jesus because He makes things better; we follow Jesus because He is better. I think Barry said it last week. “We don’t follow Him because He makes our life better; we follow Him because He is better than life.”
While I was ordering my ESV Journaling Bible from Westminister Bookstore, I happened to see that Tim Keller’s got a new book coming out this October. It’s called The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith. It’s based on his previous sermon “The Prodigal Sons.” Essentially Keller argues that there are two ways to live your life without Jesus as your Savior. The first is obvious, irreligion–live any way you darn well please (younger brother). The second is subtler, religion–live a good life so you will be accepted (elder brother).
Here’s the description…
This short book is meant to do no less than lay out the essentials of the Christian message, the gospel. It can therefore serve as an introduction to the Christian faith for those who are unfamiliar with it or who may have been away from it for some time.
This volume is not just for seekers, however. Many lifelong Christian believers feel they understand the basics of the Christian faith quite well and certainly don’t think they need a primer. Nevertheless, one of the signs that you don’t grasp the unique, radical nature of the gospel is that you think you do. Sometimes long-time church members find themselves so struck and turned around by a fresh apprehension of the Christian message of grace that they feel themselves to have been essentially “reconverted.” This book, then, is written to both curious outsiders and established insiders of the faith, to both the people jesus calls “younger” and “elder” brothers in his famous Parable of the Prodigal Son.