On the Plains of Moab Blog
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April 12, 2012, 3:12 PM

Boogers & Baptism

Boogers and such coming at the end of this entry.  I promise.  But, first things first.  I want to take a late look back in the mirror at this past Sunday's Easter message, How God Became King.  I was thinking about the message this morning as I was getting ready to come into work.  Often I will try to imagine what some past colleagues and mentors would make of my handling of the Word.  This morning, I was fondly recalling the man who gave me my first preaching opportunity.  Elder Dave Kenyon at Blackburg Christian Fellowship was that man.  He used to always chide me about my Sunday School style and eventually, my preaching philosophy.  Dave would say, "You need to be practical."  "You are too academic."  "Look at Jesus, he was very practical.  Look at his parables.  Down to earth."

Dave thought that I should be trying to help people understand how to navigate the concerns of living in the modern world -- just like Jesus did for his hearers, in his day.  Things like, how to be a good dad; how to have a good Christian home; how to deal with depression and anxiety; how to win friends and influence people, (Well, okay, I exaggerate with the last one there!  Sorry Mr. Carnegie!).

Nothing wrong with practicality.  However, as I have spent years reading the Gospels and the rest of the Scriptures, I have reached the conclusion that the Bible is not an "Owner's Manual" with instructions of how to handle every conceivable circumstance in life.  Certainly, we can draw encouragement from Scripture in life.  When we are sad, anxious, angry, questinong, etc. etc.  The Psalms are a great resource for all sorts of spiritual therapy.

However, the Scriptures, Old and New together, tell a wonderful story of God's engagement and purpose in the world.  By the time we get to the New Testament, we find that this Testament is completing what came before.  The story has come to a climax with the advent of King Jesus.  Far from a mere wisdom dispensing, wonder working, itinerant preacher, Jesus made it his life's mission to proclaim that God had come back, just as promised.  Just take a look at the way Matthew opens and closes his Gospel:  "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us) (Matt. 1:23 ESV) and "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matt. 28:19-20 ESV).

All of the parables, teachings, sayings, and symbolic actions went into driving this point home.  The Gospels are all about the Kingdom of God come, and in the process of coming.  (Again, thanks to Tom Wright for his lucid and compelling scholarship.  If you haven't read his stuff -- you need to!)

That is the narrative that gripped me back in 1995, though I did not quite understand how to articulate it then; and the narrative that still holds me tight today.  I want people to understand that the world is not just a mass of chance and chaos.  That life is not one dang thing after another.  That God is actively involved, every minute of the day.  History is moving from a beginning to an end, and God is the only mover.  We come to church week after week to be reminded of who we are.  To give God praise for what he is doing in the world.  For being strengthened for the task of being God's people in and for the world as we look for and hasten The Day.

Okay, now it is time for some boogers!  Enjoy this blog entry.  In light of the two baptism events we have had in the past three weeks, this is a timely piece.

Boogers & Baptism

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