God’s Wrath?

stormI just finished reading a fascinating blog post by Michael Brendan Dougherty titled “This Election Is God’s Judgment On Us.” He wrote this on the eve of the general election, before anyone knew what the result would be. I feel like I need to preface any following comments by saying that I am not sharing this to express my thoughts on the results of the presidential election but rather to reflect on what brought us to the point that we are at in American politics. Neither is this intended to endorse the author – this is the first post that I have read from him so I don’t know where he stands on other issues.

Here is an excerpt from the end of his post:

So these are the last of tens of thousands of words I’ve written in the run-up to this wretched election. I have lost my illusions about my political allies. Everyone seems to recognize the world tipping into craziness, and they respond by holding on tighter to their own version of craziness. Maybe this is mine. Roll your eyes if you like. I no longer fear Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or their fans. This election has taught me to fear God.

I have often said publicly, and I will continue to say, that I do not believe that God deals with nations now in the same way that God did before Jesus came to make everyone part of the family. It seems that in the years that I have been alive, every time something bad happens to this country there is some “Christian” leader somewhere hollering that this was “God’s Wrath” upon our nation. I think that this is absurd! To me it is just as ridiculous as the claim that every time we get sick or hurt that God is punishing us for something that we have done.

I do, however, find the argument compelling that part of experiencing “God’s Wrath” on sin is experienced when God allows us to corporately pursue our own demented desires to their final conclusion. In other words, even though there are undoubtedly faithful individuals within any society, the society as a whole will still suffer when God allows the masses to pursue rebellion and rejection of God’s desires for humanity. The author seems to imply that our two major party candidates for this election are examples A and B of this phenomenon. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that I agree with all that is said in the referenced article, that is not my point. I don’t. In fact, if you have the time to read it I would love to hear some of your thoughts and reflections because I think it is very well written and worth further digestion. But I do believe that this election is likely to have a terribly negative effect on many of the most vulnerable individuals in our society, and perhaps even more around the world. This makes me grieve and also causes me to repent of the times when I have remained silent or sent a tweet when in fact I should’ve been more involved in doing God’s kingdom work.

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Sometimes, You Just Want to Share!

Camano Island State Park in the fall.

One of the things that I love about new technology is the ability to snap a good quality photo with my phone at any time and share it instantly via text, instagram, Facebook, etc. Sometimes, you just want to share what you are seeing, and even though you can’t capture it fully in an image, it somehow becomes more rich when others can enjoy a piece of it too. I took the above picture during a walk and prayer time. My intention was to be alone, but as I walked upon this scene on a still day with the birds singing I desperately wanted others to experience it too!

I had a similar experience that I wished I could share with everyone last Sunday night.  It was our missional community meeting. We packed into our little home to have dinner together, connect, share stories, and then share the “Story of God.” We had a lot of kids there, and at moments it was pure chaos! Oh, but what a beautiful chaos it was! Even though we are only in our second week in the “Story of God,” we can tell that this has the potential to shape us as a community in new ways that line up with God’s mission. How absolutely wonderful to have young children helping their adult parents retell the story and remind us of what we forgot! I can’t wait to see where this all goes and I do hope that more of you reading this will have the opportunity to join us someday and experience it for yourself!

Tozer’s Take

Just this week I picked up a book I have long been meaning to read: The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer. I immediately recognized that the Spirit was behind this as I read the first chapter and realized how relevant it is for the work we are doing in our discernment team right now. Here is an excerpt:

     Before the Christian Church goes into eclipse anywhere there must first be a corrupting of her simple basic theology. She simply gets a wrong answer to the question, “What is God like?” and goes on from there. Though she may continue to cling to a sound nominal creed, her practical working creed has become false. The masses of her adherents come to believe that God is different from what He actually is; and that is heresy of the most insidious and deadly kind.

The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him – and of her. In all her prayers and labors this should have first place. We do the greatest service to the next generation of Christians by passing on to them undimmed and undiminished that noble concept of God which we received from our Hebrew and Christian fathers of generations past.

I find it interesting that Tozer points out that we can have a great “nominal creed” (as we Presbyterians do in The Book of Confessions), and yet our “working creed” or what we really believe about God and act on can be distorted. That is why it is essential for us to begin here, and specifically to begin with the incarnate Word, Jesus. What is it about Jesus that we believe at our core? Is that accurate? How do we act on that understanding as we seek to follow him in our place in our time?