14 January 2017

Un-sentimentalizing Jesus

Mary Vandenberg at her blog, Life, God, and other Mysteries, captured what I was trying to get at it in my desire to un-sentimentalize Christmas:
"Its fairly easy to worship the newborn king. The infant Jesus seems helpless and tame, his omni-attributes veiled beneath the chubby baby cheeks.

But what about the Jesus who rebukes evil spirits, tells the woman at the well to sin no more, and accuses his followers of being an “unbelieving and perverse generation”?

And what about the Jesus who instead of proclaiming peace on earth as our Christmas cards and carols proclaim, tells the people: “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.”

Or how about the Jesus who reminds us that the cost of following him is rejection by the world? (Luke 9:23-24; John 15:18-19)

What will I do with all of Jesus – not just the warm and fuzzy parts – this year?"
I encourage you to read the rest of the blog (both this entry and previous entries).

13 January 2017

Jeremiah 29:11 in context?

The Babylon Bee, a Christian satire site, has a wonderful article on Jeremiah 29:11. Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (NIV). Many people find it inspiring and encouraging. Unfortunately, as the article seems to suggest, many find the verse to be more inspiring without paying attention to its context (exile and living in a foreign land). 

And so, in a recent turn of events, The Babylon Bee "reports" that

"“Everything except that super-encouraging verse is likely not canonical, added by a scribe at a later date,” one expert told reporters. “Apparently someone invented an entire fabricated context around the verse to give it additional depth and meaning, rather than letting it stand as the beautiful, context-less words of positivity and affirmation that Jeremiah originally intended.” . . .
At publishing time, scholars had also announced that a similar forgery had occurred in the book of Philippians, with chapter 4:13 being the only passage likely penned by the Apostle Paul."
from "Confirmed: Earliest Manuscripts Of Jeremiah Just Had Chapter 29 Verse 11."

It's nice to notice that I'm not the only one who gets frustrated by how this text often gets completely removed from its context. While the text is definitely one of hope and comfort, the comfort is primarily in the confirmation, not that God would make his people rich and have lives of comfort, but instead that God would be with his people despite all of the difficulties of their situation and as they did the unexpected: seeking the prosperity of the city in which they had been exiled (Jer 29:7).