The relationship and attitudes American Christians should have toward Israel
Do Jews have a divine right to the Promised Land? Are American pastors dismissive of Arab Christians in Israel? Should Christians treat the Israeli-Palestinian dispute differently than other conflicts? As pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, John Piper has been addressing these contentious questions for years. After he began informally discussing them with David Brickner, executive director of Jews for Jesus, we invited them to share some of their discussion with our readers.
Michael O. Emerson highlights where exactly the intersection between successful multiracial churches and successful “worship” styles occur as he discusses Gerardo Marti’s book “Worship Across the Racial Divide”. Although Emerson doesn’t extensively flesh out Marti’s thoughts (since his post isn’t a complete review), there are still interesting thoughts to consider:
What “succeeds” musically in multiracial churches is not a certain type of music or how well it is performed. Rather, it is: (a) people of various backgrounds all practicing together, spending time together, singing together, worshiping together; and (b) the fact that it is “our choir, our people.”
To get downright sociological, it is the transcendent experience in which worship becomes at the same time a celebration of the group itself and of God who has brought the group together. At its essence, then, what matters is the network of relationships of the people in the congregation, not the type or even the quality of the music.
While I’m doubful that phrases such as “I’m going on a date with God” is necessarily indicative of the maturity (or lack thereof) of the person who utters them, Courtney Reissig and some of the reader comments make interesting points about the fear of longing. Insofar as claiming Jesus is your “boyfriend” is indicative of your fear of being single and trivializes who Jesus fully is, I fully agree that this is a dangerous road to tread on. At the same time, there is that other, less-mentioned extreme of not holding the institution of marriage with high enough of a regard, to which Reissig cites the “self-love” and “self-marriage” examples as evidence:
Just as self-marriage misses the mark for what God designed marriage to point to, “marriage” to Jesus misses what his work accomplished. Marriage to Jesus while waiting for a husband can often trivialize our Savior in a way that makes him more like a sweet boyfriend who takes us out on dates, rather than the God-man who paid for our sin on the cross. Jesus did not accomplish redemption to marry us individually. He died for the church corporate, of which we are a part. His death accomplished something much greater than simply meeting our deep-seated desires for a significant other. That is what Paul is getting at in Ephesians 5:22–33 when speaks of the mystery of marriage.
We need to recover a robust vision for singles, accepting them as they are and acknowledging their value to the local congregation. Many single women struggle with contentment in this season of their lives, and it can be tempting to either claim Jesus as their boyfriend/marriage partner or embrace a self-marriage mindset in order to mask the deep desire they feel for a husband.
But if the warm and fuzzy feelings about Jesus aren’t your thing, it is easy to fall into the trap of acting like you don’t need marriage, or that marriage is for people who are weak and need companionship. I used to be that person. I scoffed at the “Jesus is my boyfriend types” but I had no problem acting like marriage was really no big deal. I was fine by myself, even sinfully self-sufficient at times. God most certainly calls some people to lives of celibacy, but the self-marriage idea is not in that category.
Three missions experts weigh in on the STM dialogue and discussion, each with their own specific conclusion and reasonings. Interesting read.
Stephen Altrogge with illustrative statements that contrasts the crushing burdens of condemnation and the liberating motivations of conviction. This one was actually submitted by a reader, but I thought it was very accurate – “Condemnation paralyzes faith for change. Conviction bears the fruit of faith for change”.
These tips will prove to be invaluable whenever I decide to pen my memoir.