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Light rays forest at night

In the Light, Part 2

John begins his letter to the Church (1 John) by talking about how the forces of light and dark pull on us. The dark promises to keep our secrets for us and thereby make us look clean. But the light of Jesus promises to actually cleanse us. John learned to talk like this, of course, from Jesus who, throughout the Gospel of John talks a lot about light and dark. But these aren’t just words or convenient metaphors. They are…
Light rays forest at night

In the Light

    In the Gospel of John chapter 1, we see the excitement of those who meet and follow Jesus. John the storyteller, Andrew and Peter, Philip and Nathaniel. They knew immediately what a special and exciting thing it is to be a follower of Jesus. And now that John begins his letter (later in the New Testament) with, “We declare to you what was from the beginning! What we have heard! What we have seen with our eyes!” (1…
Wooden road sign with empty boards

What Are You Looking For?

In John 1, we begin with a mind-blowing, densely theological, poetic prologue (vv.1-18). Then we meet John the Baptist (not to be confused with the author of the present Gospel) whose sole concern is making sure we fix our eyes completely on Jesus. And then we see Jesus begin to gather his disciples. The Gospel of John here in chapter 1 paints a picture of what it looks like to be utterly captivated by the presence of Jesus. Two of…
Blinking lightbox with The End text

Telos

The beginning of a new year is a good opportunity to think not only about beginnings, but endings as well. A path is trodden more wisely when we already have an idea of where the path is leading us. As we take our first steps into 2023, let us look to where our story finds its ultimate destination, something which the book of Revelation is more than happy to show us. Another word for Revelation is apocalypse. We need not…
Sunlight on the ocean aerial

When We Say Christmas

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly. Titus 2:11-12 The grace of God has appeared! It is no abstract idea we ponder once a year. The grace of God has undeniably, irreversibly inserted itself into human history! That’s what we mean when we say Christmas. (Who knew such a stunning Christmas Gospel proclamation could jump…
Tourist near yellow tent lighted from the inside

Tabernacled

When we talk about Christmas, we’re talking about the incarnation, about the fullness of God being found to be suddenly and mysteriously human. We Christians get to point at Jesus, someone poor, homeless, gentle, controversial, and despised, and say, “That’s who our God is.” Christmas and incarnation are the good news that God is not far away. God is near, intimately near. And actually, in order to talk about Christmas, we can turn to Matthew or Luke as we often…
The Parthenon in Athens

Grasping

In Acts 17, Luke characterizes Athens as a place where people “would spend their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new,” a whole city that treats ideas like commodities, traded every day for the gratification that comes from hearing something new and interesting. This gratification is just one more idol alongside all the others Paul encounters in Athens. He’s here waiting for Silas and Timothy, and in the meantime will converse with people all over town. He quickly…

Not For Sale

In Acts 8 we meet two interesting characters. Philip the apostle and Simon the magician. Philip is preaching and healing through the power of the Holy Spirit. Simon is someone in touch with the spiritual realm to also do incredible things. Likely he’s doing many of the same things Philip is doing through the power of the Holy Spirit. But Luke shows us that there’s a great difference between the two. Simon’s magic results in his own personal glory. But…

Contemplation and Action

By Acts 6, the Jerusalem church so far has become known primarily for two things: proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus, and being a source of radical generosity. As we’ve already seen, people like Barnabas are selling everything they own, liquidating all their assets, and bringing it to the church, trusting that that money will end up exactly where God wants it. And until chapter 6, it’s kind of looked like this was being done perfectly.    But now, a new…

Secrets and Half-Truths

What a strange story we find in Acts 5. The church is sharing life together in the most radical and generous ways, when suddenly two people, Ananias and Sapphira, are dead, apparently struck down for their sin. Unfortunately, the story is a bit vague. Luke doesn’t actually tell us that God killed Ananias and Sapphira, or that Peter did, but only that they die when they hear Peter speak. The ancient readers of this story probably didn’t tie themselves into…

Unflinching

When Peter and John go up to the Jerusalem temple one afternoon, they meet a man who’s been unable to walk his whole life. Every day he would have someone carry him to the temple gate so that he could ask for whatever generosity some passerby might feel like offering. As Peter and John walk by, he asks them for the same alms he asks of everyone. “I have no silver or gold,” Peter tells him, “but what I have…

Before Any Sign or Seal

“We say, ‘Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.’ How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, and likewise the…