Posts Tagged With: Religion

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.

Categories: Biblical Scriptures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prophetic

What is one to make of the approximate 2500 prophecies that exist in the Bible, at least 2000 of which have currently been carried out precisely as they were predicted? I have recently begun to think about the probability that so many prophecies have actually come to pass. Although some of the prophecies that apologists claim to have been fulfilled could be regarded as being a little vague or ambiguous, one cannot doubt that for the gospel writers, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies was a compelling reason for believing in Jesus’ Messianic claims. On this basis alone, one must also treat their realization with the upmost seriousness. Here are two prophecies that I find to be particularly noteworthy:  

Prophecy one: Shortly before his death, Jesus prophesied both the destruction of the entire Jewish temple and the city of Jerusalem.

Bible Verse: Matthew 24:1-2“Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.’”

Fulfillment: This was carried out 40 years after Jesus’ death, when Rome destroyed the temple and Jerusalem.

 

Prophecy two: The Messiah would be betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver. Prophesied in the book of Zechariah in approx. 586 B.C.

Bible Verse: Zechariah 11:12-13 – I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.”  So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.  And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter” – the handsome price at which they valued me!  So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.

Fulfillment: “Then one of the Twelve – the one called Judas Iscariot – went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?”  So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver.  From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.” Matthew 26:14-16.

Categories: Apologetics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Call myself a believer

Although God lives in the souls of men who are unconscious of Him, how can I say that I have found Him and found myself in Him if I never know Him or think of Him, never take any interest in Him or seek Him or desire His presence in my soul? What good does it do to say a few formal prayers to Him and then turn away and give all my mind and all my will to created things, desiring only ends that fall short of Him.”

Thomas Merton. ‘New Seeds of Contemplation’.

If I don’t know any of the players on a soccer team, am oblivious to any of the team’s achievements, and never watch any of their games, can I still call myself a supporter? Technically, yes, but doesn’t being a supporter of a team mean that one has to provide some kind of support? Surely one has to invest some part of his/her time or resources into following the club, otherwise the word ‘supporter’ simply becomes meaningless. I think an approximate analogy can be made regarding one’s relationship with God. If we don’t invest anything into our relationship with God, do we still maintain the right to call ourselves a believer in Him?

Categories: Personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Genuine prayer

I’ve been challenged recently about how one can easily disengage the heart when praying and slip into the familiarly repetitive, pre-meditated expressions that almost seem to be solely for our own benefit. The quote below is from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s ‘The Cost of Discipleship’.

“Genuine prayer is never ‘good works,’ an exercise or a pious attitude, but it is always the prayer of a child to a Father. Hence it is never given to self-display, whether before God, ourselves, or other people. If God were ignorant of our needs, we should have to think our beforehand how we should tell him about them, what we should tell him, and whether we should tell him or not. Thus faith, which is the mainspring of Christian prayer, excludes all reflection and premeditation.
Prayer is the supreme instance of the hidden character of the Christian life. It is the antithesis of self-display. When men pray, they have ceased to know themselves, and know only God whom they call upon. Prayer does not aim at any direct effect on the world; it is addressed to God alone, and is therefore the perfect example of undemonstrative action.” (P.163)

Categories: Personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To reveal or to conceal belief

Forcing a religion on your children is as bad as child abuse” Richard Dawkins

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” King Solomon, Proverbs 22 verse 6.

If you believe in God, should you share that belief with your child? The famous quote above from Dawkins has made its way in to public sentiment and I think there is a general societal perception that when it comes to religion, parents and educators have a vague duty to inform the child about the existence of the distinctive world religions, and then leave it up to her/him to decide what s/he does with that information. One should keep her/his personal convictions to her/himself. To go explicitly further and begin to share those beliefs with the child could be akin to a form of indoctrination.

If I believe, however, that God has actually made a profound difference in my life, then it becomes problematic to attempt to step back and allow my child to choose from the differing religions or non-religions on option. Indeed, if something deep and meaningful happens to anyone, then isn’t it within our human nature to want to communicate that experience or incident to other people?

A further difficulty with keeping one’s personal conviction to her/himself, is that an underlying principle of faith is that it is something that has to be lived out on a daily basis, it has an inextricable influence on one’s words and actions. If, therefore, I want to sincerely share my own faith with my child, then he will first need to see what affect that profession of faith has on my life, how it influences my behaviour. If he does not see this, then any words that affirm belief are simply empty, unsubstantiated and meaningless.

Categories: Personal | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.