For parents worried about their children

My morning prayer and Bible reading brought me to the opening chapter of Job today, and these words I don’t think I’ve ever really taken time to notice before:

His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their sisters to eat and drink with them. When the period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice burnt offerings for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom. (Job 1:4-5, NIV)

When we read of Job we often focus on everything that come later, but this morning I find myself reflecting on Job as a model for parents.

As a pastor, I interact with many parents and grandparents who are distressed by or worried about their sons, daughters, and grandchildren. They do not know how to reach them, and they worry over poor choices that they feel helpless to do anything about.

I wonder if Job might serve as a model here.

We no longer need to sacrifice animals, of course. I don’t want to advise grandmas to be slaughtering goats in the back yard. Jesus Christ was the final and perfect sacrifice for all sin.

But perhaps, like Job, we parents and grandparents might rise in the morning and seek purification and forgiveness for our households and our children. We can turn to God in prayer and lift them up in the name of Jesus, praying that by the blood of the lamb the Father might forgive them – even for sins we are not sure they may have committed.

Just as Job loved his family, so we might follow his lead in loving ours.

‘God’ always includes the Son

There is a refrain I hear from some leaders in our churches and teachers in our seminaries about Jesus. It goes something like this.

Jesus Christ is the lens through which we read the Bible.

This notion gets deployed frequently when people are trying to wrestle with the passages in the Bible that depict God calling for blood and unleashing wrath and devastation on the people of God or on other nations.

In broad strokes, I hear people saying that we should use what we know about Jesus Christ to help us interpret these passages, which often means that we should conclude that those passages don’t actually show us a true picture of God but are the creation or projection of the men who wrote those parts of the Bible. In short, we use the lens of Jesus to help us dismiss those passages as not reflecting the true nature and will of God.

This is not the only way that notion of “Jesus as the lens” gets used, but it certainly gets used that way.

This makes no sense to me.

It makes no sense to me because Jesus Christ in the New Testament does not shy away from talk of wrath, fire, and punishment. The “lens” of Jesus that we are offered in this exericse is usually not a complete image of the Jesus of New Testament. The lens itself is an edited view of Jesus. It is not Jesus but our own ideas about who Jesus should be that shapes both the lens and work we do with it in the rest of the Bible.

But it makes no sense to me for an even bigger reason.

It makes no sense to me because I affirm the doctrine of the Trinity.

Orthodox Christians worship God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three-in-one and one-in three. In other words, there is no mention of God anywhere in the Bible that is not inclusive of the Son. When God unleashes snakes on the people of Israel or demands the blood of entire villages, the Son is doing those things just as much as the Father and the Holy Spirit. There is no Jesus lens through which we can view the God of the Old Testament because the God of the Old Testament is fully present in Jesus. They are the same. If we think that one some how corrects or screens out the other, we misunderstand what we claim to believe when we sing “God in three persons, blessed Trinity” and recite the creeds.

This does not make it easier for us to grapple with God as revealed to us in the Bible, but that is okay. Making it easy for us rarely seems to be God’s primary motivation.

Learning at Daniel’s feet

Brent White shares his testimony of his conversion to being a strong conviction about the truthfulness of the Bible.

Included in the post are comments on a British podcast by a Christian apologist and Oxford mathematician. The full transcript of his lecture explaining how the Book of Daniel is a perfect book for Christians trying to figure out how to live in the 21st century. The speaker, John Lennox, speaks specifically of Great Britain, but I think many of his observations apply to us — or will in the coming years. This is how he frames the story of Daniel.

So, we have a young man who has been brought up to believe in God and he’s suddenly without warning precipitated into a completely alien culture. He’s moved physically. Now we haven’t been moved physically in this country, but in recent years and with increasing acceleration, we’ve been shifted from a culture that has been broadly monotheistic, in a culture that is increasingly relativistic, that’s increasingly atheistic, and that’s increasingly marginalising the capacity of the possibility of articulating faith in God in public….

To maintain your faith in God and your public witness in that kind of a situation is not easy. My view is that if we can gain anything from looking at this book that will help us to unpack the secret of Daniel’s stability and his conviction and his power and understanding, then it is worth doing.

If you prefer to listen, the lecture audio is here.