Biblical Scriptures

Masterpiece

“For we are God’s masterpiece.” Ephesians 2:10

Surely this truth has the potential to change our lives. Imagine what we would look like if at a deep, gut level, in our hearts, we knew the facts that the Bible repeatedly tells us: We are children of God, we were loving, fearfully, wonderfully created, God knew us before we were in our Mother’s wombs, He loves us so much that his one and only son was tortured and died for us. Would we still hang on that bit of feedback from our boss? Would we still need to incessantly compare ourselves to everyone around us? Would we still obsess over that text message? Would we still long for that reassurance, that pat on the back, that confirmation? This is surely the ultimate affirmation. The creator of the universe made us, knows every single fact about us, loves us more than we could ever love Him and has created us as His masterpiece.

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Christian or disciple?

I discovered recently that the word ‘Christian’ only appears in the Bible on three occasions. It was a term mostly used by people outside of the ‘Christian’ community to define all of these new, radical, Jesus followers that were springing up everywhere.

If I were to ask 20 people what word comes to mind when they hear the word ‘Christian’, then I would probably get 20 quite different responses. It is a term that is not biblically defined and so to some extent we can determine ourselves what it means.

The word that is much more frequently used by Jesus’ followers and the apostles to define their relationship with Jesus is ‘disciple’. But this word is a lot more frightening to start using as it is quite clearly defined – Jesus specifically teaches about what it means to follow and emulate Him.

In future posts I would like to try and elaborate on what it actually means to be a disciple of Jesus.

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Safe

The angel of the lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” Psalm 34v7

A friend asked me the other day if I thought that a guardian angel watched over my children. He pointed out the many times I wasn’t there to physically keep them from harm and the countless risks and threats that had been prevented in my absence. I did not have a ready answer for him but it got me thinking because as a parent the foremost thing on my mind is to keep my children secure.

But don’t we all need protecting? Don’t we seek out someone or something to keep us safe? We are fragile, we need to be protected. We take shelter from our raging environment. We hide or fight when an enemy invades. We cry out for support when hurt. I find the verb ‘encamp’ in the cited Bible verse to be so powerful and such a great image. It brings great comfort. And, importantly, it is not meant to be metaphorical.

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Spiritual workout

Assuming belief in the supernatural, if humans have a spirit, can it grow?
Christians would answer affirmatively, but maybe the real question is whether its’ development is something that they take an active part in. Physical training is undoubtedly vital for sportsmen and women, who live lives dedicated to getting the best out of their physical bodies and skills. They commit to following a monitored diet and fitness regime. They don’t expect to simply turn up and be able to perform and play to the best of their abilities. Similarly, I believe that if Christians are to take their faith seriously, then the same principle of training and commitment to a certain lifestyle needs to be applied. Whilst Christians are saved by God’s grace, and cannot earn their salvation, they are clearly responsible for their lives and how they live them. St. Paul says that “while physical exercise has some value, spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next” (1 Tim 4:8). In my view, the question of what this “spiritual exercise” looks like can best be answered by studying the spiritual disciplines such as solitude and fasting that have long been practiced throughout the ages and that were also central to Jesus Christ’s life – Christ was tempted by the devil whilst in the middle of a long period of fasting and before he was arrested to be crucified, He purposefully spent time alone in prayer.

See: Dallas Willard – ‘The Spirit of the Disciplines’.

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We are all something or someone’s disciple

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”   Matthew 6 v21.

I have been thinking a bit more on obedience and how we all obey or follow something whether we consciously choose to or not. In our post-modern society, we shy away from notions of objective truth, ironically we seem to feel that it is morally right that we are uninhibited and free to choose (outside of common law) that which we decide is right to obey. But I don’t think we can escape the reality that we are all someone or something’s disciple, whether this is a conscious decision or not.
To find out who or what we obey, one simply has to think about what he spends most of his time thinking about because that is where his heart really is, that is what he follows. Family, sex, job, social standing, finances, intelligence, the list is considerable. The problem is that whatever our treasure is, then that will end up defining who we are. If what I hold dearest is my job and I get fired, then my entire sense of who I am, my very identity, could be crushed.

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