Why do we dare to “take it all in” when our hearts are ready to epode with grief? Why do we sing when we mourn? Why do we adorn graves with flowers? Because we know that death can only be recognized by the living, sorrow can only be shared by those who grieve, and there is no shame in dying. Death may look like failure to those who worship life. The grave may appear as a dark reminder for those who seek repose in the busyness of daily demands. But, for those of us who have died with Christ Jesus, if his death teaches us anything it’s this: what looks like failure is really victory; what appears to be loss is actually gain; what seems to be shameful is the place where honor is found; and what sounds like the mourning is true worship. Believers call it a “sacrifice of praise,” for only those who are crucified with Christ can thank God for each, a fragrant aroma.
Tag Archives: Paul
I realize, of course, by the nature of their questions that they have been listening. It’s because they understand very clearly that Paul’s world is different from our world, that Paul faced different challenges than we do today, that Paul’s assumptions do not translate directly into out context, they must ask “So what?” They want to take Paul’s advice seriously. It’s not enough for them to understand the historical meaning of Paul’s letters. They want to know-they must know!-if Paul’s gospel still matters today, especially since the apostle dealt with some of the same issues we face: gender battles, social contests, racial prejudice, marital struggles, sexual vices. Indeed, Paul didn’t hide behind vague theological ideas when he wrote his letters to the churches of the first century. He deals with the messy details of daily life for Christ believers. Do we eat this or that? Should I have sex with her or not? Do we have to believe everything you do? Should I get married? Should we help the poor who refuse to work? Because Paul’s instructions are so specific on his experiences and ideas about what the gospel should look like in his time, we can’t help but wonder: is Paul’s timely advice timeless?
Trying to answer the “So what?” question has brought Paul’s gospel into better focus for us-not just his theological ideas, but his personal experience of the gospel of Jesus Christ, his spirituality. Typically, Paul’s letters have been used as resources for his theology. We’ve grown accustomed to studying Paul for his theological insights, siphoning from his letters what he believed, distilling the contents for “hard doctrine.” Yet, for Paul, the gospel was not merely what he taught, but how he lived. He wanted his converts not only to believe what he had “received”; he expected them to follow “his ways” in Christ (1 Cor 4:17).