We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6
The whole of John’s first epistle exhorts those who call themselves Christians to inspect themselves to check they are indeed what they say they are. It can be very easy to think we are something which we are not.
In this short paragraph, John says Christians are those in whom the Spirit of God lives. If the Spirit lives in us, we must know what God has done for us in his great love. For if we do not know the forgiveness of sins through his Son, how can we profess to be Christians? To know the forgiveness of sins, we must know the truth of the gospel and we must believe in the truth.
If we know the love of God through his Son, then we also must love God and in doing so do what he says, obeying his commands, including loving others. In this way, we know we are born of God, and what we claim to be.
Given the recent furore recently concerning religious belief and outward appearance, I thought I’d drop my tuppence worth into the mix.
In general, I think people should be allowed to wear whatever they want to work, as long as it is appropriate for the job. If an item of clothing is dangerous, it is inappropriate, and should not be allowed. If a job requires communication, an item of clothing shouldn’t hinder that. Conversely, communication shouldn’t be distracted by clothing or the lack thereof. (It would be difficult to communicate properly with someone wearing a veil, and similarly with someone wearing just their underwear.)
As for the Christian point of view, ‘Christian clothing’ and any other ‘Christian’ apparel is an oxymoron. Whoa, you may say – doesn’t that sound a little too puritanical? Is it possible one can show one is a Christian by wearing a cross? Well, I would say no, on two counts.
Firstly, anyone can wear anything. You could be an atheist and wear a cross, especially when it’s fashionable. You could be a Christian and wear a hijab – the bible doesn’t forbid wearing a modest scarf. The main line of thought from a Christian point of view can be typified by Peter’s letter.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewellery and fine clothes.
1 Pe 3:3
Now this particular command is to Christian wives, as can be seen if you read the whole chapter, but the spirit of the law is that clothing should be modest. This reflects the general teaching that Christians should be wise and in so doing be humble. Anything else concerning clothing is up to the wearer.
Secondly, as can be inferred from the quote from Peter’s letter above, is that people should know you are a Christian, not from what you wear, but from your behaviour.
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.Mt 5:16
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. Jas 2:18
The bible is clear that the mark of a Christian is that they do what their Lord commands.
We need the light of the world in our hearts, that we may be lights to others. We need faith in Christ that we may be clothed in righteousness.
…put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Eph 4:24
So far so routine. 🙂
Monday evening was spent playing football with work colleagues, although the opposing team went one man down with a hamstring injury. Didn’t seem worth playing after that – he couldn’t move properly. Maybe I’m not competitive enough?
My violin lesson yesterday evening recapped scales and pieces I’ve learnt already, as well as learning G# minor (!) and a couple of new pieces.
This evening was spent with Dave and Ed on the green baize, ending up with 2-2-3 frames (Dave, Ed and myself respectively :))
Spent the day at Swindon Evangelical Church for the Swindon Youth Conference, in er…Swindon! The theme of the conference was “Useful or useless”, showing that Scripture tells us we’re either being useful or useless as Christians and there is no neutral zone. Additionally, God gives us everything we need to be useful as Christians, with all grace and power that we might serve him.
As well as the addresses and the discussion times, it was good to be able to meet up with old friends and to make some new ones.
Q: What are the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?
A: The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are, his ordinances, especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all of which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.
Q: How is the word made effectual to salvation?
A: The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the word an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation.
Q: How is the word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation?
A: That the word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend thereunto with diligence, preparation, and prayer, receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our hearts, and practice it in our lives.
As Jesus travelled to Jairus’ house, a woman with a debilitating condition sought healing. She’d seen many physicians, but none could help her, some had even made things worse. She heard about Jesus and sought him for healing believing he had the ability. She didn’t think herself to be worthy of his attention, seeking merely to tough him, after all he was off to heal a synagogue ruler’s daughter. She managed to touch Jesus’ cloak and was immediately healed. Not content with healing her discreetly, Jesus turned to her. Instead of leaving her with any misconceptions about her healing, he clarified what had happened. It was her faith in him which had healed her.
Much like this woman, all of us have a debilitating condition, that of a sinful nature. Like the woman, some of us realise we need healing and seek it in all manner of places. The remedies can range from carrying out rituals, making pilgrimages, attending services, doing good deeds, self-deprivation, etc. Much like the physicians the woman consulted, nothing we attempt can heal us, some might even make us worse. It is only if we turn and place our faith in Jesus Christ can we be healed. He will heal us just as we are, but healing means leaving us changed – his Spirit dwells in us and our old sinful nature no longer rules us, though it may still linger. It doesn’t matter how much faith we have, as long as our faith is in him, for it is Christ who heals us and not ourselves.
Another Saturday, another afternoon running like a banshee after a ball of animal hide inflated with air. I must admit, it’s doing wonders for my fitness as I’m now able to run around a lot more than I used to. Of course, this isn’t going to make me a great footballer – just someone who can run around a lot!
The evening was spent in Nandos in Slough to celebrate the birthdays of Funmi and William. Whilst there are no surprises with Nandos, the food was good and the birthday boy and girl seemed to enjoy themselves.
A good, if slightly exhausting day!
Went over a whole load of old pieces this evening in my violin lesson. It would appear I am better than I was – which is a good thing. 🙂 Shame I couldn’t say the same about my football skills yesterday evening…
We live in an imperfect world, where we fail to treat each other as we should. It would be very easy to say we should behave better, that we should try to do better, but we would be neglecting the cause of the problem. For the reason we say wrong things and do wrong things is because of our hearts. Not the heart of just the emotions, but the heart in terms of our thoughts as well. For the people of the Old Testament considered the heart to be our essential being.
The problem with our heart is that it is corrupted and needs fixing.
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. Lk 6:45
The only person who can fix our heart is Jesus Christ. Through faith in him, he will give us a new heart, one which seeks to do good, to do his will, and to slowly put away the things of the old heart.
In order to nurture this change, we must guard our hearts. We must be careful what habits we form, what literature we read, what situations do we allows ourselves into and what do we allow ourselves to see and hear. This is is prime concern – above all things. Just as eating a poor diet will lead us to a poor physical state, so will having a poor spiritual will lead us to a poor spiritual state. For if our hearts are unguarded, it will take on what it is fed and manifest itself in our behaviour.
Conversely, to enable our new hearts to grow, we must feed on good spiritual food. We must feed on the word of God daily, through private study and through the meeting together to hear the word.
Was up at far too early on a Saturday morning to do some window shopping for carpet with Sarah and Dave. Wandered round Bentalls and John Lewis in Kingston browsing carpet and asking assistants lots of questions about pricing. I think I may have to give this some more thought!
The afternoon was spent playing football with the lads from church and some others who just came along and joined us. I’m slowly remembering the names of some of the people who just turn up!
The day finished off at Ridley Hall Evangelical church in Battersea for a talk entitled, “Is anything worth dying for?” It can be so easy to be so engrossed with the temporal things in life, that we forget the eternal things. For ultimately, only that which is eternal is worth dying for. If it’s worth dying for, it worth living for. If our chief end is not to glorify God, we might as well chase the wind.
Played Dave this evening at snooker. Three very snappy frames within an hour leading to a 2-1 frame defeat. Least it was quick. 🙂
Was back on the football pitch with my work colleagues yesterday evening. It was as though we’d never stopped. It all came flooding back, the running around, the occasional clatter and the interesting individual styles of play. Surprisingly, I didn’t collapse after 15 minutes, although I did score an own goal, which cancelled out one of my goals…
This evening was spent trying to get to grips with spizzicato – not sure I’ll ever master it! I guess I’ll get the hang of it much like everything else so far, but it’s hard to imagine it some times!
God is love 1 Jn 4:8
Probably one of the most oft-quoted verses from the bible. Yet, this is a fundamental attribute of God. Along with his holiness and grace, he is love. If he were not, our lives would be very different.
How do we know God is love?
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 Jn 4:9,10
For God did not have to send his Son into the world, for the world had turned against him, it had sinned against him. He rightly had the option to punish us without any argument. His justice demanded punishment for sin. Yet, he loved us so much he gave us his Son who willingly took our punishment in our place.
Just as God is love, those who know him should love. For God’s Spirit works in us, enabling us to love, not out of duty, but because God loves us.
This love is shown in our love for one another and others. If we do not love each other, how can we say we love? If we do not love, how can we say we know God? Just as out of love, God saw that we needed salvation from sin, we must seek to address each other’s needs.
Through loving others, our love will be purified, and change from glory into glory, that God love may be complete in us.