A promise that all wrongs will be righted

So on Monday this happened in Sydney.

Then on Wednesday this happened in Pakistan.

A friend posted this on Facebook yesterday

I wish I could draw a line under the events of this week and quickly and clearly express all my feelings and opinions about what is happening in the world. I am a confused mess of anger and blame and indifference.

It summed up exactly how I feel. So I’ve found it hard to respond to what’s been happening. But David nails it –

“One of the jarring aspects of this whole tragedy is that it all happened just 10 days before Christmas. Sydney has, in the last week, gone into Christmas mode. There’s always that discernible change in vibe from just the season where all the big stores have their decorations up and start plugging gifts for purchase to that moment when the shoppers are in the mood too. I think we got there last week. The Lindt Café would have been decked out in Christmas finery as Man Haron Monis burst through the doors.

Of course, the most jarring difference is that between the actions of Monis and those of the One who those decorations are celebrating. It’s the same jarring difference between all man-made religion and the only true religion; trust in the Lord Jesus Christ of whom the angel says,

Matt. 1:21 “[Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Here is real redemption. Not that I save myself by my actions and am rewarded by a merciful God (again, note the contradiction in terms) but that another comes and saves me. Here is redemption already won for me, as Zechariah prophesies,

Luke 1:68    “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people”

There is no Jihad in following Jesus. All the struggle is done for us. In fact the opposite is true, we are urged in a sense not to struggle.

Rom. 4:4-8 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.  And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,  just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Much could be said about this and some contrasts are obvious, if not already much-stated. Both struggles for redemption are costly. For Monis there was not only the cost of his own life but that of others. He no doubt understood that their death was part of his jihad and justified, as do many others who have acted and will go on to act in similar ways. Jesus, on the other hand, offers up His own life not for His own benefit but for those who have sinned against Him.

That is not to say that Jesus does not look forward to paradise. The Scriptures are clear, pointing us to

Heb. 12:2… Jesus, … who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

But this is where the similarity ends. Monis, and others like him, look to the death of others who they view as being sinful as their own pathway to paradise.

Jesus offers up His own life so that those who are sinful may be carried to paradise.

Therefore the only answer to the sin and destruction of yesterday is Jesus. He brings redemption to all, no matter what they have done, if only they will trust Him, place their confidence in Him and His death on their behalf.

And He also shows us how to respond, to love our enemies and to seek their redemption. He brings comfort to the grieving and (not to be forgotten) a promise that all wrongs will be righted.

The events in Sydney over the last 24 hours have not ruined Christmas. Nothing can ruin Christmas – for the coming of Jesus into the World is greater than any other event. If anything, the deaths of 3 people in the Lindt Café only serves to demonstrate just how wonderful and necessary Christmas is.”

Read the whole thing here.

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Exodus: One God and many kings

exodus_gods_and_kings_movie-wideLast night I saw Exodus: Gods and Kings. I’ll never understand why anyone would make a movie based on a bible story and change the story so much. If they told the story as it is in the bible it would be a much more cohesive story. Despite this it was enjoyable and here are 3 things I loved about it.

1. God is in charge

Throughout the movie there are plenty of characters who think they’re in charge, Pharaoh & Moses being the 2 big ones. Obviously Moses is the focus of the movie and from the beginning it’s clear there’s big things ahead for him, but the harder he tries to control things – his life, his future, his gang of rebellious Hebrews – the clearer it becomes that he is useless without God. During one conversation between God and Moses, God points out Moses’ failure and tells Moses to stop and watch. This is just before the plagues start and when they come it is crystal clear who is in control of them. It ain’t Moses.

2. God is powerful

Speaking of plagues, they are impressive. Big, powerful, devastating. The only thing more impressive is the one in control of them. His power is held in stark contrast to the gods of the Egyptians who are silent and powerless. The only god or king that holds real power in this story is the God of the Hebrews.

3. God has a plan

It’s clear that God has not forgotten his people. He always had a plan to save them from slavery. He always planned to keep his promise to lead them into the land of Canaan.

The story may have deviated from the biblical narrative in parts, but these are tremendous biblical truths about the God of the Hebrews. The one true God who had a plan not only for the Hebrews, but for the whole word. This plan was fulfilled in the person of Jesus, who came to rescue us from our own slavery, to sin and death.

Find out more about Jesus and God’s plan for freedom here. 

Barth on Christian suffering

Came across this quote in my exam prep. Food for thought –

“If, then, a man is not oppressed by his environment, if he has nothing serious to fear or to suffer at its hands, he has reason carefully to ask at least whether and how far he is genuinely a Christian at all and not fundamentally self-deceived in this respect.” – Karl Barth

 

Christianity and Depression

abstract_by_Xevious1337

I have mixed feelings about doing this particular post. I have not suffered from depression, so my experience of this is from the point of view of a friend/family member of a sufferer. So my aim has mainly been to work out how to educate non-sufferers about depression so they can support their friends. I think part of doing that is to talk about particular challenges that Christian sufferers face and I think this is a really important part of any discussion on depression. So while I feel completely inadequate to talk about this I will do the best I can and pray that it is helpful to at least one person.

Challenges for Christians with Depression

1. The ‘hope’ conflict

The Christians experience is about hope (Colossians 1:23). And yet at the heart of depression is the lose of hope. The good news is that the hope we have is not dependent on how we feel. It is about God’s faithfulness – and that doesn’t change. (1 Corinthians 1:9). So the challenge for Christian’s is to hold onto that hope, even when all you feel is hopelessness.

2. The isolation temptation

There is a strong temptation when we are feeling down, to want to be on our own. Depression is no exception to this. I have seen many people who fall into this temptation and cut themselves off from everyone around them. I think this is a temptation that we need to avoid. Hebrews 10:25 says that we should not give up meeting together, instead we should encourage one another. When you don’t feel like seeing other people is when it is especially important to have your Christians brothers and sisters around you. They will encourage you and love you but more importantly they will remind you of God’s love and faithfulness.

3. The nagging questions

Who is God? Where is he? A lose of hope will naturally lead to questioning who God is. Although its hard, its important to hold onto the reality that God knows us and loves us (Psalm 139:13 – 16), even when we are at our most unloveable. Don’t be tempted to think that God can’t take your depression away – he can (& he does) and only he knows why he hasn’t yet. Be reassured that it is God who will give you strength to get through anything (Philippians 4:13).

They are three big challenges. I think its important to say that there is a way you can serve and love your family and friends through all this and that is by doing everything you can to get better. See a doctor. Follow the advice they give you – they know what they are talking about. That is the best thing you can do for the people you love and for yourself.

Next: How to care for your friends/family with depression

Lifeline Australia (24 hr hotline – 13 11 14)

To Write Love on Her Arms

beyondblue

Black Dog Institute

More from me on depression here.