"I have made you so much like my Son that I delight to see you and be with you. You are a pleasure to me, because you are so radiant with my glory.""
Recently, moral catastrophes and scandals on Wall Street and elsewhere in the world of business and government produced calls for the development of moral or ethical intelligence in leaders. Business schools have been rushing to add courses on ethical business behaviors and practices. The reason is simple – financial intelligence will wreck itself without moral intelligence and the guidance of ethical reasoning.
Now, in terms of Christian leadership, all of these insights from the concept of multiple intelligences are helpful, but Christian leaders must develop and operate out of an additional intelligence – convictional intelligence. Leaders without emotional intelligence cannot lead effectively because they cannot connect with the people they're trying to lead. Leaders lacking ethical intelligence will lead people into a catastrophe. But leaders without convictional intelligence will fail to lead faithfully, and that is a disaster for Christian leaders. (31)
But what do we do when we don't feel joyful? Do we resign ourselves to disobedience? Should we abandon following Jesus? Not at all! We fight the good fight of faith. It is good to fight for belief in the Gospel. We fight for faith to believe that obedience to Jesus is better than disobedience. Religious affection is an expression of faith in the Gospel, but it does not constitute the whole of faith. Faith also includes trusting God when we don't desire him. It is this faith that fights to follow Jesus, even when we don't feel like it. We were recreated in Christ not to run emotional power but spiritual power-the filling of the Holy Spirit. The power of the Spirit comes to life when we trust in his Word. (Dodson, Jonathan K. Gospel-centered Discipleship. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012. Print.80)I love this quote by Dodson. I love his reaction to trials and difficulties and joy being robbed: fight the fight of faith. Following hard after Christ is not going to be easy. But we need to resist cynicism and pessimism and be willing to put some effort into our walk with God. Consider this excerpt by Dodson in light of another excerpt from J. C. Ryle's classic on sanctification called Holiness:
The first thing I have to say is this: True Christianity is a fight. True Christianity! Let us mind that word “true.” There is a vast quantity of religion current in the world which is not true, genuine Christianity. It passes muster; it satisfies sleepy consciences; but it is not good money. It is not the real thing which was called Christianity eighteen hundred years ago. There are thousands of men and women who go to churches and chapels every Sunday, and call themselves Christians. Their names are in the baptismal register. They are reckoned Christians while they live. They are married with a Christian marriage service. They mean to be buried as Christians when they die. But you never see any “fight” about their religion! Of spiritual strife, and exertion, and conflict, and self-denial, and watching, and warring, they know literally nothing at all. Such Christianity may satisfy man, and those who say anything against it may be thought very hard and uncharitable; but it certainly is not the Christianity of the Bible. It is not the religion which the Lord Jesus founded, and His Apostles preached. It is not the religion which produces real holiness. True Christianity is “a fight.”
I may have been taping my wrists, or perhaps I was adjusting my game-socks so the proper amount of white showed below my knees. Though I do not remember exactly what I was doing, I do recall I was sitting at my locker preparing to take the field for a football game as a member of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. This was my rookie season in the Canadian Football League and I was about to learn a valuable lesson.Read the rest of the article here: Similitudes
Mike Kerrigan, a Northwestern football alumnus and one-time New England Patriot quarterback, strode confidently into the locker room. He was not only announcing to the Christian athletes that the pre-game chapel was starting, but he was also doing his best to encourage the non-Christian players to participate in our weekly ritual.
Mike approached my locker and reminded me of the chapel that was about to start. Then he looked at the man in the locker beside me. “Dale, you coming to chapel today?” he asked. Our starting offensive center, a product of Tennessee’s football program, looked up from adjusting his knee braces with a mischievous grin. “What does Jesus have to do with hitting, slapping, punching, pain, blood, sweat, and tears?” he replied half-serious, half-joking.
Kerrigan’s profound response was, for me, unforgettable. It is etched in my memory and I have found myself replaying this veteran quaterback’s reply many times over the ensuing 14 years of my professional football career and beyond. With complete seriousness, and with a passion that indicated the gravity of his words, Mike said, “Jesus knows more about hitting, slapping, punching, pain, blood, sweat, and tears than you or I ever will.”
If we bring unreasonable expectations to bear on the Gospel accounts, such as a desire for an almost exhaustive description of events, we are sure to be disappointed. Let's remind ourselves as we read the Bible that the accounts given in the four Gospels are just that, accounts. They are not video recordings.If we push expectations far enough in this direction, we might call the results a "video-recording" concept of truth. A "true" narrative, according to this theory, produces a mental picture equivalent to a video recording of the entire episode.
But this conception is unworkable. A literal video recording of reasonable quality provides massive details about colors, textures, shapes, and positions of every person and object in a scene, all of the motions of the various persons and objects, and all the sound audible within the scene (including, for example, the sound of a dog barking in a neighboring yard). Verbal communication does not equal a video recording. Verbal communication is "sparse." It does not mention all the colors or all the positions of all the persons and objects. Typically, it does not mention all the bystanders in a scene. Were some of the apostles present when the centurion sent elders? Which ones? What were the expressions on their faces? We simply do not know. In our mental picture we may, if we wish, begin to fill out in our imagination many of these details. But neither Matthew nor Luke gives us massive details. Even if they did, they would still fall short of a video recording. (49)
Saints, too, may be the instruments of
comforting and establishing one another,
and of strengthening one another in faith and obedience;
and edifying one another;
of raising one another out of dull and dead frames,
and helping one another out of temptations,
and onward in the divine life;
of directing one another in doubtful and difficult cases;
of encouraging one another under darkness or trial;
of promoting each other's spiritual joy and strength,
and thus being mutually fellow helpers on their way to glory.
Liberated Christians boast a spiritual license that says they are not bound to rules. This license may be expressed by drinking too much, watching inappropriate films, or refraining from Bible reading, all in the name of spiritual freedom. The subtle assumption here is that true freedom comes from the ability to not keep rules. However, when freedom is constructed against rules, it is a false sense of freedom. The lie of spiritual license is a partially true. Because of the costly death of Christ, forgiveness has been purchased for our disobedience. Because judgment has fallen on Christ for our sin, we are free, but not as we might think. God's forgiveness frees us from judgment, not from obedience.
(Dodson, Jonathan K. Gospel-centered Discipleship. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012. Print. 72)
You think there’ll be a day when the sun wont rise?
Yeah, said John Grady. Judgment day.
When you think that’ll be?
Whenever He decides to hold it.
Perhaps nowhere in philosophical discussions is the need for a specifically Christian philosophy more evident than in discussions that have to do with the assumed incompatibility between existence of the triune God and the existence of evil in this world. The challenge that comes to Christianity, in light of this incompatibility, must be taken with all seriousness and addressed. This, it seems to me, is the apologetic task in excelsus; it is the premier challenge to Christianity. It is a challenge that comes most often from those wanting to show Christianity to be false. It is a challenge that, at least prima facie, takes seriously much of what we believe about God and much of what we experience in this world. A response to this challenge, therefore, cannot be set aside; it must be careful and biblical. (Oliphint, K. Scott. Reasons [for Faith]: Philosophy in the Service of Theology. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Pub., 2006. Print. 262)
...he cannot mean that Christ gave up equality with God or that he ceased being fully God. Since he is fully God he cannot cease to be fully God. God is eternal, self-existent, immortal, and immutable, and thus he cannot cease to exist as God, nor can he fail to be fully God. Surely what Paul means is this: Christ being fully God, possessing the very nature of God and being fully equal to God in every respect, did not thereby insist on holding onto all the privileges and benefits of his position of equality with God (the Father) and thereby refuse to accept coming as a man. He did not clutch or grasp his place of equality with the Father and all that this brought to him in such a way that he would refuse the condescension and humiliation of the servant role he was being called to accept ... it is crucial to see that Christ's "not grasping" equality with God cannot rightly be taken to mean that Christ gave up being God or became in any way less than fully God when he took on also a fully human nature. (18-9)
A humble spirit disinclines us to indulge resentment of injuries, for he that is little and unworthy in his own eyes, will not think so much of an injury offered to him as he that has high thoughts of himself. For it is deemed a greater and higher enormity to offend one that is great and high, than one that is mean and vile. It is pride or self-conceit that is very much the foundation of a high and bitter resentment, and of an unforgiving and revengeful spirit. (79)
The Gospels are intrinsically in harmony, but also complimentary. No one Gospel says everything that could be said. Each one is completely true in what it presents about Christ and his life. If we had access to only one Gospel out of the four, it would give us knowledge of God in Christ, and we would be saved by trusting in Christ as he is presented in that Gospel. We would have true knowledge. But it would not be all the knowledge we could ever have. We learn more when we read a second Gospel because it brings out aspects of Christ that were not so much in the foreground in the first. The four Gospels together give us greater riches than any one alone. They harmonize in a symphony rather than giving a unison performance. This symphonic harmony agrees magnificently with the very character of God who is magnificently rich, and with the character of Christ, who reveals God to us in his fullness. The richness in inexhaustible. The differences among the Gospels make known the manifold wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10). (36)
(1) Who are we? We are a people of faith who have been given all that we need for living a godly life and have been called to (or by) God's own glory and excellence. In this way, we participate in what God is doing in the world (2 Peter 1:1-4). (2) What ought we to become? The persons we ought to become stand in direct continuity with who we already are . . . The goal is progressive transformation into Christlikeness. (3) How do we get there? We achieve God's purpose for our lives by making every effort to add to our faith the virtues that will make us more and more completely the people God has called us to be. (Köstenberger, Andreas J. Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011. Print. 47)
Whenever we replace Jesus with another lord, we displace the gospel from the center of our discipleship. We substitute Jesus's perfect performance for our imperfect performance, which will always fail. The gospel reminds us that our approval before God rests, not on our performance but on the performance of Jesus in his perfect life, death, and resurrection. Religious performance deceives us by saying: "Impress God and he will approve of you." The truth of the goepl, however, says: "You don't have to impress God because Jesus has impressed him for you." (71)