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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tattoos & the Christian

Greek for "It is finished"
As our own kids and those of some good friends romped around our yard this past Sunday afternoon looking for plastic eggs, they discovered inside them your mainstream sugar supplements coated with colored dyes (each which are like a russian roulette of allergic reaction to our children) but also a copious amount of -- removable tattoos. Katie had stumbled upon a bunch of these and thought they'd be great for easter egg prizes. They also sparked a question with which I've been confronted frequently lately:


"By the way, what do you think about tattoos?" OR "What do you think about Christians getting tattoos?"


I don't have tatts myself, but next time I preach on Christian Liberty from 1 Corinthians 8, Romans 15 or otherwise, I hope/dream to wear those tattoo sleeves on my arms just to see how the church reacts. 


I do think, as Christians, we can be too quick to either say: "GRACE" and just assume the substitutionary death of Jesus automatically creates/entails a more relaxed outlook on all of life that permits pretty much anything; or say: "STOOPID" and demonize tattoo-wearing while either quoting a verse from Leviticus or just condescendingly giving someone the "Why would you do that?!" look. 


Let's instead engage with God's Word as we do some critical thinking on this subject. I managed to finally do so and I started to formulate a response - but then ran across a really helpful & biblically-serious old article I read in a Christianity & Culture publication called Critique (ed. by Dennis Haack)... and then managed to find that article on the interweb, which I've posted below. 


"Decorating or Desecrating the Temple?" by Travis Scott


Some quick thoughts on the above article:
(1) Don't click on the link if you ain't prepared for some serious engage-your-mind reading and reflection on this subject. This is not the one-minute read followed by "now I can get a tattoo!" sort of thing. He covers all the potential bases, some of which you likely never knew existed.
(2) I found fascinating the history of how various kinds of bodily marking and tattoos have been viewed by Christian cultures throughout history. Admittedly, Scott probably should reveal that there's more ebb than flow (more of a negative view toward the practice throughout history) - nevertheless, that there is even some very positive views taken by Christian leaders in different historical periods is interesting. 
(3) I also appreciated that this is written by someone who is inked. I think he is particularly fair, asks good questions of the reader, and the insights he shares at the end re: his experience with tattoos was revealing to yours truly. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

When I am God

I recently had a fellow pastor send me this short little thought/faith provoker. It's written by a guy named Tim Challies, who is a pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto. I'm pasting it below & then following up with a challenge as to how you might practically grow in putting God back on the throne of your life.





When I am God    by Tim Challies

Sin is inherently anti-God, inherently pro-self. Each time I sin I make a statement about myself and a statement about (and against) God. Each time I sin, I declare my own independence, my own desire to be rid of God; I declare that I can do better than God, that I can be a better god than God. Recently I took some time to think about how life changes when I am god. The results were not pretty.

When I am god, it is against me, me only, that you may sin and do evil in my sight. This world exists for my pleasure, for my glory, and the gravity of your sin is measured according to how badly it interferes with my sovereign will. My wrath falls upon those who do their will instead of mine.

When God is God, your sin against me is light when weighed against its offense to God. This is the Father’s world and it exists to bring glory to him. Sin is any lack of obedience to God or any lack of conformity to his just and holy ways. For such sinners I have sympathy, and love, and hope in the gospel.

When I am god, worship of God interferes with my plans, with my slumber, with my loyalty to pleasure, to socializing, to sport, to amusement. I hate the thought of worshipping another, but long to worship myself or have others worship me.

When God is God, worship is joy, it is nourishment, it is life. There is no greater joy than to gather with God’s people to bring glory to the Creator, to give thanks to the Redeemer.

When I am god, sexual fulfillment is my right; sex exists to bring me pleasure and the value of other people is measured only in their ability to fulfill what I am convinced that I need.

When God is God, sex is a gift given to strengthen my marriage through service to my spouse. It is guarded and treasured and hallowed and motivates me to joyfully give thanks and praise to God.

When I am god, love is directed to me, the one most worthy of it. True love, meaningful love, meets the desires of my heart right here and right now. It grants peace when I long for peace, silence when I need silence, attention, affection, whatever it is that I demand. This is love. Greater love has no man than this—that he lay it all down for me.

When God is God, love is directed outward. Love for another is simply a means of expressing love to God; it is loving much as one who has been loved much. Love is not asking “What do I need?” but “What does God desire?” Greater love has no man than this—that he lay down his life for a friend, just as Jesus Christ, the friend of sinners, has done for me.

When I am god, I myself am the source of all wisdom. Folly is bound up in the heart of a child or in the heart of anyone who contradicts or contravenes me. I am good and do good and long to teach you my statutes.

When God is God, wisdom flows from a source outside of me; wisdom is extrinsic and other-worldly and infinitely, eternally good. This is wisdom from above, wisdom from a book.

When I am god, I am enslaved. When God is God, I am free. I thank God that God is God. 



How God helped me practically grow from a simple exercise. After reading this, I sensed the Spirit slowly nudging at me as to what I would add to this list. Doing this really helped me call out the specifics of my self-centeredness, see the glory & freedom of God-centeredness, and helped me, well, repent.  


Here's mine: "When I am god, I have credit due to me for the good or important deed I've done. I will not give my credit or glory to another. I am offended when another would rob me of my credit or glory."


"When God is God, my left hand forgets about what my right hand just did,  anything I give is remembered and stored up by God as treasure in heaven, and I view my righteous deeds like filthy rags compared to the gracious, immeasurable, and radically persistent deeds (He just keeps doing them even when I don't notice!!) of my Father."


You. What would you add to the list? Beginning with "When I am god..."