On Zeal

Zeal is neutral. It might be good or bad, but either way, it is extreme.

One can have zeal for a good cause; such zeal is good.

But zeal for the wrong cause is like driving a car fast at night without headlights. It is bound to end badly for the zealot and perhaps for others as well.

I am asking the Father to help me make sure I am pointed in the right direction. For there have certainly been times in my life when I was zealous for the wrong cause.

Paul was accused of making the process of becoming a Christian too easy for the Galatians. All he insisted on was loyalty to Jesus and a life expressing that loyalty.

Today, many teachers have omitted that last part, that part about the changed life. Paul might call them accursed.

Has anyone out there besides me than watching the Formula One practice and qualifying this weekend? The first race of the season is tomorrow.

Family

I miss family. Yes, blood family. But I’m primarily referring to church family.

A sense of family is, in my opinion, the main feature missing from the church in its current manifestation.

It is nearly impossible to have family relationships when the goal is to grow into a megachurch. Most churches seem to have some program of small groups to work at alleviating this problem. Maybe that actually works for some churches and some people, but I haven’t seen it work very successfully. The group tends to become another obligation in a busy life rather than a joyful gathering of family.

Perhaps I’m jaded. No, not perhaps. I am definitely jaded. I’ve lived long enough to see lots of attempts and little success.

This is a problem for which I don’t have a solution. It goes against my grain to complain without offering a solution, but I truly have none. I fear the problem will remain until such time as the church regimen we know collapses in failure amid the coming tough times and we basically have to start over. That might do it.

Anyway, I’m studying Galatians and a comment by David deSilva was the impetus for my thinking about this problem. Please pardon the quote of a whole paragraph—I know that people don’t like to read long things online. I thought the comment was thought-provoking.

Paul’s use of kinship language at the outset of this letter is significant; it sounds a theme that will dominate Galatians. God is the “father” of this vastly extended household (1:1, 3); the believers in Christ are “sisters and brothers” (1:2) to one another, even across great distances. The Christian movement constitutes thus a global “household of faith” (6:10). Paul, like other early Christian leaders, uses the language of family to speak of the relationships between Christians throughout the evangelized world, inviting believers to accept not only a new relationship in regard to the one God (sons and daughters) but a new relationship with one another (brothers and sisters). Those who are, by birth, “outsiders” to one another in terms of blood relations are called upon to accept one another, to look out for one another, and to invest in one another as the closest of “insiders.” They are called upon to give one another the gifts that accompany being siblings—cooperation, sharing of material resources and other advantages, truth-telling and faithfulness, the nurturing of harmony and unity, investing in advancing one another’s interests—and to approach one another from this vantage point. As people who have been brought together into a single family, they are called upon to banish all those things that would be unseemly within a natural family—competition, looking out for one’s own interests at the expense of another, manipulation and withholding truth and true intentions, and the like. So much of the ethical vision for Christian relationships and community in the New Testament can be traced directly back to the understanding that God was fashioning a new family out of the many, unrelated people redeemed by Christ’s blood—and who are therefore now related in truth by blood.

David A. deSilva, The Letter to the Galatians, ed. Ned B. Stonehouse et al., The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2018), 116.

Get that? We are related by blood! That ought to make a difference, yes?

A song for worship must hold up theologically and artistically.

If it is a beautiful song with bad theology, it is a waste of time and effort.

If the theology is good, but no one wants to sing it, then why do it at all?

If both are bad, it may as well be a southern gospel quartet song.

Lady Wisdom Calls; Will We Heed the Call?

Proverbs 8:1–21 (NRSV)

Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?

On the heights, beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:

“To you, O people, I call,
and my cry is to all that live.

O simple ones, learn prudence;
acquire intelligence, you who lack it.

Hear, for I will speak noble things,
and from my lips will come what is right;
for my mouth will utter truth;
wickedness is an abomination to my lips.

All the words of my mouth are righteous;
there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.

They are all straight to one who understands
and right to those who find knowledge.

Take my instruction instead of silver,
and knowledge rather than choice gold;
for wisdom is better than jewels,
and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.

I, wisdom, live with prudence,
and I attain knowledge and discretion.

The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate.

I have good advice and sound wisdom;
I have insight, I have strength.

By me kings reign,
and rulers decree what is just;
by me rulers rule,
and nobles, all who govern rightly.

I love those who love me,
and those who seek me diligently find me.

Riches and honor are with me,
enduring wealth and prosperity.

My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold,
and my yield than choice silver.

I walk in the way of righteousness,
along the paths of justice,
endowing with wealth those who love me,
and filling their treasuries.”