Deep down, each of us longs to know what we’re here on earth to do—to have some sense of purpose and mission. Some people have a “life verse” from the Bible that gives them succinct focus. If you don’t have one of those, perhaps today’s passage is a good one to adopt.
While away from home on a lengthy work assignment, I attended a church quite different from my one back home. For instance, my adopted church observed communion (the Lord’s Supper) every time they met. Instead of the pastor or elders serving, ordinary members of the church shared responsibility for distributing the bread and wine.
In his landmark books Soul Searching and Souls in Transition, sociologist Christian Smith surveyed American young adults and found that most held to what he called “Therapeutic Moralistic Deism.” They’re deists because they believe God doesn’t interfere in our lives unless we need His help to solve a problem. They’re moralistic because they believe God wants us to be good and kind to each other. And their view is therapeutic because it makes them feel good about themselves.
Amid the horrific stories of shootings in schools, the news in August 2013 of Antoinette Tuff’s heroism was a beautiful exception. Antoinette, on staff at an elementary school, confronted 20-year-old Michael Hill when he entered the school building carrying weapons, including an assault rifle. “I just started talking to him,” Tuff said, “and let him know what was going on with me and that it would be okay.” Remarkably, Hill laid down his weapons and surrendered. Accounts of Tuff’s courage swept across the newswires, but she resisted acclaim. “I give it all to God. I’m not the hero. I was terrified.”
The teachers of the law stormed into the temple and interrupted Jesus’ teaching by thrusting a woman in front of the crowd. They said to Him, “This woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (John 8:4-5).
When the Nazis overran Poland, Father Maximilian Kolbe transformed his friary into a covert refugee center. Before the SS troops discovered Kolbe’s plot, the men had hidden more than 2,000 Jews. The SS shipped Kolbe to Auschwitz, prisoner #16670. Though beaten, forced into hard labor, and given sparse food, Kolbe’s gentleness never waned.
She said to him, “I don’t want to try to fix our marriage. It’s over.” What had started with such high hopes and evident love was now a cold, lifeless thing. My friend desired to see renewal and restoration in their relationship, but his wife made it clear that the two of them had changed and that their marriage would soon end.
On April 15, 1865, family, physicians, and government officials crowded around the bedside of US President Abraham Lincoln. He was unconscious and close to death from an assassin’s fatal bullet.
It was the week of the Passover celebration. Hundreds of thousands of Jewish pilgrims came to the temple to commemorate their deliverance from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12:1-28). On the Sunday preceding the Passover, Jesus had allowed the people to honor Him as king as He entered Jerusalem—something He hadn’t allowed them to do earlier (John 12:12-16).
Renowned Christian writer Dallas Willard wrote: “The aim of God in history is the creation of an all-inclusive community of loving persons, with Himself included in that community as its prime sustainer and most glorious inhabitant.” Marriage is one way God continues to create this community.
What must one do to be saved? For the answer, turn to the book of Galatians. The problem that arose in the churches in Galatia remains a question that many Christians battle with today. Are we truly saved by our belief in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross for us, or is something more necessary on our part?
According to a Gallup Poll, “Away in a Manger” was voted the second most popular carol. Although some of what we sing isn’t mentioned in the Bible (for example, cattle present at Jesus’ birth or Jesus not crying), the carol affirms some deep theological truths.