Steve Collier and I have never met, but each blog entry he writes makes me hope we will soon! In this entry (click on the title to get to the original) he responds to David Cameron’s view of the Bible:
Have you ever felt burdened by something? I know I certainly have! And for many of us, maybe we have had times in our lives as followers of Jesus that we’ve felt burdened. If so, I wonder what those burdens were? I have an inkling that for many of us, those burdens may be to do with that word that Cameron uses: morals. Are we doing the right thing? Are we acting in the right way?
If we take Cameron’s understanding of the Bible, then what we have is a book of morals. And if we adopt his understanding of faith, then what we are left with is the slavish burden of attempting to live up to those moral standards. You see, by reducing the Bible to a book of morals, what we really do is impose the law upon ourselves – that very thing that Jesus died to set us free from.
Glad to see you’re blogging again Steve!
Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Christians are those who know the Lord’s name: his identity and character as the God who reveals himself, the God who saves a wretched people, the God we know in and through Jesus. We know him personally and place our trust in him, because he has proven himself trustworthy.
How has he proven himself? The Psalmist could point to the Exodus, and to countless individual stories, to show the trustworthiness of God. He could point to promises made and promises kept. He could speak of the Lord’s covenant with his people. He could confidently assert that God had never forsaken his people in the past, and so they could trust him in the future.
Trust him to do what? Ultimately by God the Son taking on our nature in the person of Jesus, whose name literally means “God our Saviour”. The Lord’s name – his identity as the God who saves – is made known personally. Knowing Jesus and all that he’s done for us, we have perfect grounds for trusting in God. We have confidence he will never leave or forsake us, even in the midst of darkness, because Jesus went through the dark night of death and rose to resurrection life. Like a needle pulling a thread through dark cloth, Jesus takes us through death to new life in him.
Who does he do this for? All those who seek him, who look to him, who find their refuge in him. The Christian life is not about seeking an abstract salvation, or simply a ticket out of hell. The Christian life is about seeking, running after, throwing ourselves on Jesus, our Refuge, our Champion, our Brother and our King. Our ultimate sin is to have rejected the life that is ours in Jesus. Christians are those who run after him, like the Beloved of the Song of Songs searching for her Lover, turning to Jesus for life and salvation.
As another year begins, won’t you join me in running after Jesus? He promises us that those who seek will find.
Here’s what are probably the best Christian books I’ve read this year. Honourable mentions go to Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho and Steve Levy’s Bible Overview for getting me thinking about the Old Testament more.
- The Good God – Michael Reeves. This seems to have been many people’s pick of the year, and with good reason. Mike’s introduction to the Trinity shows clearly how the life of God as Father, Son and Spirit is an overflowing goodness that brings light and life to us and the whole world. He writes such lively prose that you can’t help but imagine him chuckling to himself with joy as he writes. It’s a book about delighting in the Trinity that is itself delightful.
- The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness – Tim Keller. I reviewed this for 10ofthose back in January, where I said it left me convicted about my pride, convinced of the joy that “thinking of ourselves less” brings, and rejoicing in the power of the gospel to transform lives. My small group are getting copies of this as (belated) Christmas presents. It’s short, cheap, and packs a gospelicious punch far above its size and price.
- A New Name – Emma Scrivener. Emma’s wonderfully honest and witty blog has probably given me more articles to email to friends than any other website, so I was very excited to get hold of this book. Her auto-biography is a remarkable testimony to the grace of God through the ordeal of anorexia, and should be required reading for anyone whose friends struggle with eating disorders, negative body image, depression, OCD, or sin (so that’s everyone, then).
- Thoughts for Young Men – J. C. Ryle. Ryle was a bishop in the 19th century, but he could have written this book directly to young men in the 21st. A sterling call for young men to turn to Christ, and not be ensnared by the world. I want to study this book with other young men so that we can exhort each other as Ryle exhorts his readers. Short, simple and wonderful to read.
- The Meaning of Marriage – Tim and Kathy Keller. There are many books on marriage that single people either shouldn’t or don’t need to read. This is not one of them. I can’t speak for marrieds, but this is highly recommended for singles – particularly those who view marriage with rose-tinted glasses, or who are looking for a perfect partner, or simply wondering what marriage is all about.
Fiction and other books here.