Christianity… A Hard Sell

I just recently finished up listening to Kevin DeYoung’s sermon series on the book of Leviticus. KDY is the senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, and therefore an unashamed Spartan fan.

He preached through Leviticus from February to July of last year, but because the church makes all his sermons available online (for free!), one can listen to them at one’s leisure. Go here for the whole Leviticus series.

Leviticus? What’s in there but the moldy trappings of a now defunct bloody sacrificial system? Not to mention, a bunch of regulations that frankly seem irrelevant to us who don’t live in an agrarian society and outdated sexual mores that are beneath our “enlightened” 21st Century selves?

While I can devote an entire series of posts of all the things KDY uncovered in the 18-part series, I will try to sift through the largesse.

In Sermon 4 (“Sin Offerings”), he expands on sin, no, not the TV station formerly known as the Spanish International Network (currently known as Univision).

Rather to the our constantly missing the mark of God’s law. Something which all human beings (save for One) are born into, act out and puts us at enmity with God.

Sin, as KDY points out, is an “objective category”. That is, it’s not relative to our whims and fancy, as he put it, “God’s values ARE whether we value them or not”. Because we are born at enmity with God we don’t like to hear about sin, especially our sin though we all feel more comfortable pointing out the sins (real or perceived) of others.

KDY rightfully asserts that he abhor hearing about sin and because of that he says,

Christianity will always be a hard sell. Real Christianity. Because it confronts head-on our love of autonomy. ‘I want to be the reference point… I want my feelings, my desires to be affirmed… It want to be the center of the universe… I want you to exist to make me happy… God exists to make me happy… I am the moral reference point, everything else is decided right or wrong based on what it does to me and how I like it… If there is a God surely He exists to meet my needs and affirm my beliefs.’

Sin is not simply being untrue to yourself no matter how many times the Disney movies tell you that it is

Indeed…

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God Sends Snow To Houston

“God thunders with His voice wondrously,
Doing great things which we cannot comprehend.
“For to the snow He says, ‘Fall on the earth…’ – Job 37:5-6

The snowfall that brought the Bayou City to a standstill (we all stopped and stared with incredulity) today was not of biblical proportions.

Nor was it enough to inspire Thomas Kinkade to paint another St. Nicholas’ Circle,
thomaskinkade

Yet it was pretty exciting to see snow falling from the heavens.

According to this story, this only marks the second time in the last 113 years that H-town gets snow this early (the other being on Dec. 10, 1944).

Imagine what would happen if humans weren’t contributing to global warming.

The possibilities are em, chilling indeed.

Why God, Why?

This question has been asked by many people who find themselves in a variety of circumstances.

Usually the question is asked when things go completely south in this stage we call our world.

Curiously enough, the question is hardly asked when things are going well.

Admittedly, it is sometimes asked under irreverent conditions, for example, by a Red Sox fan watching that dribbler treat Billy Buckner like a Roman arch.

In other instances, the question is legit as in the death of a child or in the aftermath of a particularly gruesome infamy (the Holocaust) or even natural disaster (the tsunami which hit Thailand back in ’05).

I don’t intend to fully explore the intricacies of what is often referred to as the “problem of evil” or “the problem of pain” [I think CS Lewis did a more than adequate job in his aptly titled tome, “The Problem of Pain”, so for a treatise check it out].

Of course for a concise answer to this so-called eternal question, click here or here.

I bring this up because recently through an interesting set of ahem, “circumstances”, I found myself at the book written by the prophet Habakkuk (circa 605 B.C).

The book is basically a dialogue between the prophet and God. In the first 2 chapters, Habakkuk argues with God because God’s ways seem unjust to the prophet. It seems like it’s the story of a man trying to comprehend the ways of God, Habakkuk was not the first and well, he is definitely not the last.

The first 4 verses of this book consists of Habakkuk’s first complaint.

The prophet basically asks the question that crowns this post. Of course, not in those exact words but the idea is clear,

The oracle which Habakkuk the prophet saw.
How long, O LORD, will I call for help,
And You will not hear?
I cry out to You, “Violence!”
Yet You do not save.
Why do You make me see iniquity,
And cause me to look on wickedness?
Yes, destruction and violence are before me;
Strife exists and contention arises.
Therefore the law is ignored
And justice is never upheld
For the wicked surround the righteous;
Therefore justice comes out perverted.

The answer LORD gives is stunning, but I’ll save that for a later post (Of course nothing is preventing you from checking it out).

Southern California Fires and Leviticus 19:15

You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. — Leviticus 19:15

What is going on in SoCal right now I do not wish on anybody. Being forced to leave one’s home for any reason much less because of inexorable wildfires¬† cannot be a good experience regardless of income level.

Tragically, at least one person has been killed and scores have been injured. Not to mention the millions of dollars in damages but at times like these, this is relatively unimportant.

In perhaps our worst moments, we tend not to feel as bad for these evacuees (300,000 according to above story) as we did for the Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Foolishly we think, “Well at least Cali people have money and probably had their nice homes insured while the New Orleans’ folk truly lost everything and were not insured.”

Personally, I think this sinful attitude is based on the foolish notion that money is the salve that covers a multitude of maladies, including natural disasters. As Leviticus 19:15 points out, we “are to judge our neighbor fairly”.

Naturally, we tend to feel more compassion for the poor, especially when these are subject to disasters like Katrina. The compassion is good provided that it doesn’t deaden us to feel compassion towards evacuees who have more money. Compassion, in order to be just, has to be consistent, has to be fair.

May God forgive us for these unjust attitudes towards people of any income level.