I have to admit that the modern-western-traditional-church interpretation of the story of the ten minas (Luke 19), makes me feel anxious, sick and scared. If God is going to judge my life based on my talents and how I used them or based on the good works or good behaviour I achieved, or based on how I stewarded my money – then… logically… aren’t we all screwed??? I mean, WHO will actually be called: “Good and faithful servant” based on their actions???
WHAT IF: the minas represent the gospel of grace??? What if the men who invested the minas represent people who accept grace and lavish in grace, and yes: share grace, and yes: grace changes their behviour; but ultimately it’s a story of their acceptance of God’s acceptance? Suddenly it’s not about how good they were or how smart, or how they succeeded to play the piano in church for 20 years or how they invested their money into the orphans in South Africa – maybe they did those things and maybe they didn’t. But whatever they did under the grace of God they were called: “Good and faithful servants!!!”
And what if the only people who will ever be seen as “Wicked servants” are those who REJECTED GRACE. They said to God: “I didn’t want your money (your minas). I can do it on my own; I don’t need you.” And he says: “based on your belief, so shall it be.” This is in fact exactly how the story sounds to me. Those who reject God’s grace, say to God: “I knew you were a hard man” Luke 19:22. When in fact: God is not hard or judgemental at all! God says, only to that kind of thinking: “I judge you on your words” (same verse).
Be careful what you believe. If you believe God will judge you as a harsh; works based God: then perhaps he will. If you realise that God has given you grace beyond measure to do with it as you will, then you are truly free and: “TO EVERYONE WHO HAS [GRACE] MORE WILL BE GIVEN, BUT AS FOR THE ONE WHO HAS NOTHING [NO GRACE] EVEN WHAT HE HAS WILL BE TAKEN AWAY………. Luke 19:26
The sad truth is that not all relationship issues will be resolved this side of eternity…
I recently lost a friend who I thought I would have for life or at least for a long time to come. She was a spiritual advisor, a mother-figure, someone whom I thought knew me very well and I thought I could be honest with. She and I are heterosexual females, so I am talking from my perspective on a same-sex friendship between two straight women.
Sometimes when you become emotionally intimate with a person and they see start to see your true colours, people can choose to reject who you are. Then we have choices to make. Do we go back to putting on a façade and keeping people at a safe emotional distance or do we continue to be vulnerable, honest and imperfect with people we want to be closer to and learn how to trust?
It’s heart breaking to lose a deep friendship and sometimes it feels easier to put walls up and only go so deep with another person. But ultimately we all want to be loved, and I think, when it boils down to it, we want to be loved despite our imperfections; for who we really are in our sinfulness and brokenness.
I am learning to prefer being both loved and hated for who I am than quasi-loved for who I’m not.
I have come to the conclusion that when a person hates you it is because of an insecurity or issue inside of them. They may have legitimate reasons because of a fault in our behaviour toward them, and I am not saying that I was not at fault in my relationship with my friend. But none of us can force people to love and forgive us.
I know that, for me personally, one day I will receive hate mail for my understanding of God and the things that I believe about him – the things that I will write in my books. I may be accused of being the antichrist or being antichristian. However I have learnt a powerful lesson this week that I will try my best to hold onto: it is not my fault! Even if I have done wrong or do wrong, it is another person’s choice to be offended and to hate.
I am not saying that I do not have any responsibility or any power or any faults, of course I have all of these things. I am not perfect. I can sin against a person and that is MY FAULT. I am talking about the other person’s response. Their response is their responsibility.
Thank God that one day all things will be made new; every tear wiped from every eye and every relationship made whole again.
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known – 1 Corinthians 13:12.
I heard this line sung the other day: “The Father turns his face away…”
Can you show me a verse in the New Testament that claims that God the Father “turned his face away” from God the Son on the cross? I’ve never read that.
I have read Jesus crying out on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This is not the same thing. This is the cry of Jesus; not the cry of God the Father.
Let’s take a closer look at this, shall we?
Did you know that Jesus NEVER refers to God as God, except this one time on the cross? He refers to God as his Father/Abba. For example, when he prays, he says: “Our Father…” This then, would indicate that on the cross, Jesus was not talking to or even about God.
What then was Jesus saying?
He was quoting Psalm 22. The first verse of this Psalm says: My God, my God why have you forsaken me. This Psalm goes on to describe the agony of the cross: betrayal, nakedness, physical abuse etc.
Where does Psalm 22 lead? To Psalm 23: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for YOU ARE WITH ME.” Doesn’t this sound like a contradiction? One minute Jesus feels forsaken, but then he says, God is with him.
This then leads to Psalm 24: the Resurrection Psalm which talks about Jesus ascending into heaven with clean hands and a pure heart as the King of Glory!
When I read these Psalms I see the death and resurrection of Jesus; a hurting human male who feels rejected, but discovers he is not rejected at all and is triumphant in the end. He represents our feelings of forsakenness by quoting this Psalm at the cross – knowing that those who stood around him at the cross would remember exactly what the Psalms say.
There are no other verses in the NT that support God the Father forsaking Jesus at the cross. If it were necessary for him to forsake Jesus, wouldn’t this be explained by the Apostle Paul in his Gospel presentation to the Romans or his other epistles?
Furthermore, as Christians, we believe that God is triune and Jesus is God; therefore JESUS IS TRIUNE. Colossians 1:19 and 2:9 state clearly that “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [Christ]” and “In Christ the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”
Jesus was on that cross as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. How then can the Father separate himself from the Son and forsake him? This sounds schizophrenic to me, it also gives me a sense that the Biblical claim that God never forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5), isn’t really true, if he can forsake his own son.
Personally I do not believe in the theology of the “forsakenness of Jesus.” It is not necessary to my understanding of salvation that God the Father “turn his face away” from God the Son. They were on that cross willingly, suffering from the effects of sin: the feelings of ostracism, the consequences of sin (being death and disease).
We don’t understand exactly how the cross works. Jesus died to stop the problem of death by resurrecting us as a new creation. This we know; but we don’t know how exactly. It’s spiritual. But to claim that the reason why is because God the Father needed to exact punishment onto Jesus and to forsake him; is not actually what the Bible teaches!!! Take a closer look. Show me where the word “punishment” is used in the NT in reference to Jesus death? Show me where it says that the Father “forsook” Jesus in the NT? There are no legitimate basis’ for these claims.
I believe that we are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). So the only “condition” on my salvation is that I put my faith in God’s ability to save me rather than in my works or in my theology or even in my faith (i.e. I don’t have to have “enough faith” or “more faith” because Jesus actually has “more than enough” so I’m just putting my flimsy-human-faith in His grace and faith to save me.)
It is important to note that even my faith is not a work, as indicated by Eph. 2:9 and that what faith boils down to is that Jesus saves me. Nothing more than Jesus. Nothing less than Jesus. Jesus only. By grace not works. Nothing I do or don’t do can change this (Westerners call it “right standing” I prefer the Easterner’s view of –) “right relationship” with God.
When I was a child I was led to believe I had confess my sins, try to be more sorry, try be obedient, read the Bible every day, pray more, go to church regularly, be baptised, get my theology right especially things like: God is triune, Jesus is both God and man; then later it was: speak in tongues, give money and serve God. I was burnt out before I reached adulthood. Now I understand that not a single one of these things has any bearing on my salvation.
The criminal on the cross was saved by recognising Jesus’ ability to save him without doing any good works or debating theology. The prodigal son was welcomed home before and without saying sorry, let alone actually being sorry or doing any kind of penance.
A lot of Christians will argue that you cannot possibly be a Christian and not change your sinful behaviour. They quote James 2:26 – Faith without deeds is dead! However this is not a warning about how to lose salvation, it is simply a fact that our deeds flow from what we believe. Jesus is the vine; we are the branches (John 15). The fruit of the spirit (Galatians 6) naturally sprouts from the vine. The branches don’t muster all their will-power to grow fruit; they simply produce fruit naturally because they are plugged into the source: the vine.
For some reason Western-Christians will argue that all sexual sins are very strong evidence that a person is or is not producing good fruit. I don’t know why we are obsessed about sex, but think about the truth of what I’ve just said:
- Pastors caught in adultery are dismissed and shamed
- Women who get pregnant out of wedlock are shunned by the people they thought were their best friends
- Homosexuals are told they have to change or else they aren’t Christians
- Pornography is burned at teen rallies
- Divorcees are criticised as failures for their divorce and told, not only that it’s a sin to divorce, but that it’s a sin to re-marry even though, logically, it would be better for them to remarry, than to “burn with passion” (and most likely fail) to stay celibate for the rest of their lives
I don’t know when the Western preoccupation with “sexual sin” began but I don’t believe that being homosexual or an adulterer or addicted to pornography is any worse or better than telling lies, pretending to be happy, serving the church with a resentful heart, giving with a bitter attitude, or trying to gain approval by saying all the right Christianese phrases around Christianese friends (all of which Christians deliberately do in church all the time). We Christians are all bearing both good and bad fruit because we are still living in a fallen world and our salvation has not come to its completion in the earthly realm even though it has in the spiritual realm.
Once again, none of these “deeds” – the ones hidden in people’s hearts and the physical acts people try to hide – can change the fact that God has made us righteous, holy and blameless in his sight (2 Cor. 5:21, Eph. 1:4, Col. 1:22) including being homosexual.
If you focus your attention on Jesus, you will naturally produce more good fruit. If you focus on sin and guilt and confession and repentance, you will produce more of the same: more sin and more guilt! However, ultimately, Jesus righteousness is attributed to those who put their faith in his grace. God does not see your earthly “bad fruits” because he sees Jesus’ righteousness and the more you see yourself as the righteousness of God, the more your will naturally produce “good fruit” anyway!
The key, according to John 15, is to remain in Jesus i.e. to fix your eyes on his grace not your works or even your fruit. Your bad fruit has been and is being cut away, and your good branches are being pruned. You are safe and saved by putting faith in his grace.