Saturday, August 19, 2017

No confidence apart from the Gospel! (Calvin)

How can we be sure that God is favourable towards us, that we are reconciled to him and that all our wrongs before God are forgiven (and we all have many wrongs before God)?

"Beware, then, of placing even the smallest drop of your confidence on any thing apart from the Gospel."
-- John Calvin (commenting on 2 Corinthians 5:19)

"And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” " (2 Corinthians 5:18-20; NLT)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Pushing for Same Sex Marriage?

We were at a rally on the weekend, with some of our kids. It was a peaceful protest against the "Safe Schools" program in schools, but I don't think our kids felt very safe among the counter-protesters. Of course, the "Safe Schools" issue is bundled together with the question of "Same Sex Marriage", and changing the definition of marriage in Australian law. Sadly it feels like this decision is trying to be pushed through by wearing people down, guilt-tripping peer pressure, intimidating aggression and/or fear tactics. I hope that is not really representative of the SSM advocates, but then I guess they are copying what they see happen in the main political arena (and what too often is the common modus operandi of how to get things done generally, whether even inside of the church as well as outside).

The question about redefining marriage is an incredibly significant policy decision for our society. It may seem minor to many, but I think it is symbolic of bigger things. And if the basis for our decision-making is change by intimidation, whether by forceful overpowering or emotional manipulation, I don't think it bodes well for a healthy and civil community. Our society has benefited from a Christian heritage that sees humility, respect, compassion and love of all--despite disagreement, even opposition--as virtues. And yes, it is sad that we Christians don't always live up to those standards either, sometimes avoiding healthy conflict, sometimes enabling bad behaviours. But the more we undermine Christianity, and encourage "victory by powerful assertion", the more we can expect real civility to also disappear. It won't be a healthy community. And it won't be a good side of history to be on.

May Jesus help us to live the way he showed us: "So Jesus called them together and said, 'You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.'" (Mark 10:42-45, NLT).