In 165 AD, a devastating epidemic sweptthrough the Roman empire, killing 1/3 of thepopulation, incl. Emperor Marcus Aurelius…
In 251 AD, another plague hit the empire, thistime both rural and urban areas were affected…
―Most of our brothers showed unboundedlove…never sparing themselves andthinking only of one another…Heedless ofdanger, they took charge of thesick, attending to their every need andministering to them in Christ…drawing onthemselves the sickness of their neighborsand cheerfully accepting their pains…‖Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria, AD260
―The heathen behaved in the very oppositeway. At the first onset of the disease, theypushed the sufferers away and fled fromtheir dearest, throwing them into the roadsbefore they were dead and treated unburiedcorpses as dirt, hoping thereby to avert thespread and contagion of the disease; but dowhat they might, they found it difficult toescape.‖Bishop Dionysius
Result?‗Miraculous‘ healing Huge ConversionsGrowth of Christian populationSpread of Christian love/principles throughout empire!
What do we needto awake from? What do weneed to awake to?
The kingdom of Godis like a team ofresistancefighters, plottinggoodness
The kingdom of God islike flying jet-planes oflove into towers of hate
The kingdom of Godis like a cigarettesmoker…feelingfresh air in herlungs
The kingdom of God isliving inWonderland…whereeverything is upsidedown
Jesus‘ strange kingdom…• It‘s ―weak‖ and ―foolish‖ (1Cor 1:18-27)• It‘s lowly and despised…it‘s something that is NOT (1Cor 1:28-29)• It‘s not of this world (John 8:23)• It fights with crazy ‗weapons‘, e.g. love, forgiveness, etc. (Luke 23:34)• It‘s perfected in our weakness (2Cor 12)
―In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I wasgiven a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, totorment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord totake it away from me. But he said to me, ―My grace issufficient for you, for my power is made perfect inweakness.‖Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about myweaknesses, so that Christ‘s power may rest on me.That is why, for Christ‘s sake, I delight inweaknesses, in insults, in hardships, inpersecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, thenI am strong.‖ (2 Cor 12: 7-10)
God‘s Discipline• God knows our arrogant easily-hardened hearts• God knows the importance of destroying pride; our human nature ‗naturally‘ longs to rely only on ourselves• Gods wants to prove to us that our own efforts are insufficient• Good news: He is always there at the ‗end‘ of the road
We cannot experience God‘s power unless wefeel we need to rely on Him
God‘s Frame• Our pride tends to view our successes as resulting from our own efforts• We need to see events with the eyes of Christ (and our weakness ‗forces‘ us to see!)• We don‘t need miracles; we need believers• Good news: He is already there even when we don‘t know it
God‘s Self-Limitation• We are intimately connected to God‘s power via our weaknesses (strength from weakness is like the irrevocability of freedom)• Faith really moves the hands of God – why? Because God decided that it will.• Good News: Weakness is raw material for greater faith - asking for more faith is itself an act of faith!
God‘s Hiddenness• God wants to teach/show us another kind of power, one the world doesn‘t understand• God‘s power ―looks like‖ weakness, so our power also expresses itself through our weakness• God‘s power cannot but appear weak to a sinful world• Good News: Whenever there is weakness, we know (contra appearances) that God‘s strength is being perfected
Can we see the truthwithin illusion, theauthentic embedded inthe superficial, the wonderinside the ordinary, themiraculous of the banal?
―He had no beauty or majesty toattract us to him, nothing in hisappearance that we should desirehim. He was despised and rejected bymankind, a man of suffering, andfamiliar with pain.Like one from whom people hide theirfaces, he was despised, and we heldhim in low esteem.‖ (Isaiah 53:2-3)
What good is it, my brothers andsisters, if someone claims to have faithbut has no deeds? Can such faith savethem? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister iswithout clothes and daily food. 16 If oneof you says to them, ―Go in peace; keepwarm and well fed,‖ but does nothingabout their physical needs, what good isit?‖James 2:14-16
We feel bad… thus we need to make ourselvesfeel worse in order to feel better
‗Bad‘ Faith…• Glorifies the act of believing i.e. it‘s believing in believing• Is purely mental assent (like selecting boxes, ―Do you believe in Jesus Christ?‖)• Ends up with false beliefs (because divorced from learning)• Is a deferred form of faith; we believe because others believe and thus is often contradicted by practice
‗Bad‘ works• Are purely ‗instrumental‘ and thus a form of bribery (like vote-buying)• Are irrational and neurotic (―feeling worse to feel better‖)• Are ultimately about the self, not others
―By this all men willknow you are mydisciples: if you havelove for one another.‖John 13:35
Loving Faith-Work• Believes because of love i.e. we trust and relate to God as a form of love• Insists on truth as a vehicle of love; we even judge out of love• Pray, work, serve and learn out of love and for love
Miracle Type Mark Matt Luke JohnIn all four gospels 1. Feeding of 5,000 nature 6.35f 14.15f 9.12f 6.5fIn three gospels 2. Walking on water nature 6.48f 14.25f 6.19f 3. Peters mother-in-law healing 1.30f 8.14f 4.38f 4. Man with leprosy healing 1.40f 8.24f 5.12f 5. Paralyzed man healing 2.3f 9.2f 5.18f 6. Man with shriveled hand healing 3.1f 12.10f 6.6f 7. Calming the storm nature 4.37f 8.23f 8.22f 8. Gadarene Demoniac(s) exorcism 5.1f 8.28f 8.27f 9. Raising Jairus daughter revivification 5.22f 9.18f 8.41f 10. Hemorrhaging woman healing 5.25f 9.20f 8.43f 11. Demon-possessed boy exorcism 9.17f 17.14f 9.38f 12. Two blind men healing 10.46f 20.29f 18.35fIn two gospels (Mark, Matt) 13. Canaanite womans daughter exorcism@distance 7.24f 15.21f 14. Feeding of 4,000 nature 8.1f 15.32f 15. Fig tree withered nature 11.12f 21.18fIn two gospels (Mark, Luke) 16. Possessed man in synagogue exorcism 1.23f 4.33fIn two gospels (Matt, Luke=Q?) 17. Roman Centurions servant healing@distance 8.5f 7.1f 18. Blind, Mute, and Possessed man exorcism 12.22 11.14Only in one gospel (Mark) 19. Deaf mute healing 7.31f 20. Blind man at Bethsaida healing 8.22fOnly in one gospel (Matt) 21. Two blind men healing 9.27f 22. Mute and possessed man exorcism 9.32f 23. Coin in fishs mouth precognition/nature? 17.24fOnly in one gospel (Luke) 24. First catch of fish precognition/nature? 5.1f 25. Raising Widows son at Nain revivification 7.11f 26. Exorcism of Mary Magdalene exorcism 8.2 27. Crippled woman healing 13.11f 28. Man with dropsy healing 14.1f 29. Ten men with leprosy healing@distance 17.11f 30. High Priests servant healing 22.50fOnly in one gospel (John) 31. Wine miracle at Cana nature 2.1f 32. Officials son at Capernaum healing@distance 4.46f 33. Sick man at Pool of Bethesda healing 5.1f 34. Healing of the Blind Man healing 9.1f 35. Raising Lazarus revivification 11.1f 36. Second catch of fish precognition/nature? 21.1f
The LORD will rise up as he did at MountPerazim, he will rouse himself as in the Valley ofGibeon— to do his work, his strange work, andperform his task, his alien task. (Isaiah 28:21)
The Pattern of God‘s Judgment• Clearly and specifically fore-warned• Characterised by patience and reluctance• Happens only after repeated warnings and chances to repent! (e.g. Noah‘s time, Pharoah, etc.)• Involves rescuing / preserving a righteous remnant
"You know that those who are regardedas rulers of the Gentiles lord it overthem, and their high officials exerciseauthority over them. Not so with you.Instead, whoever wants to becomegreat among you must be your servant‖Mark 10:42-43
"For he who is least among you all—heis the greatest ‖Luke 9:48
“If you will protest courageously,and yet with dignity and Christianlove…historians will say, „Therelived a great people – a blackpeople – who injected new dignityinto the veins of civilisation.”Marin Luther King, Jr.
"The time for you and me to allow ourselves tobe brutalized nonviolently has passed. Benonviolent only with those who are nonviolent toyou. And when you can bring me a nonviolentracist, bring me a nonviolent segregationist, thenIll get nonviolent. But dont teach me to benonviolent until you teach some of thosecrackers to be nonviolent."Malcolm X
True power is the power of serving andsuffering love…
―I will allure her and bring her into thewilderness and speak to her heart‖(Hosea 2:14)
"If you are the Son ofGod, tell this stone tobecome bread."(Matthew 4:3)
3 Reasons Why Jesus Should‘ve Made Miracle Bread• He was hungry, what‘s so bad about using His power to feed Himself?• He had already fasted for quite some time• He can eat now, then focus on other things later
Sin is the ‗Cutting Short‘ of akingdom process!
"If you are the Son of God…throwyourself down. For it is written:He will command his angels concerningyou, and they will lift you up in theirhands, so that you will not strike yourfoot against a stone‖(Matthew 4:6)
4 Reasons Why Jesus Should‘ve Jumped• He will obtain supernatural proof of God‘s protection• He can show Satan how much power He has• He can ‗flex His muscles‘ and have sensational news to tell of• He can build confidence
The 3 Temptations• It‘s foolish to go to the desert for wisdom• It‘s foolish to not use your power to get what you want/need• It‘s foolish to not demand for ‗proof‘• It‘s foolish to seek easier ways to get what you‘ve already been promised
―For the message of thecross is foolishness tothose who areperishing, but to us who arebeing saved it is the powerof God.‖1st Cor 1:18
Foolish Message• It‘s ‗foolish‘ to put our trust in a man hanged on a cross• It‘s ‗foolish‘ to see our weakness as the perfecting of God‘s power• It‘s ‗foolish‘ to give ourselves for people and the world• It‘s ‗foolish‘ to rely on the power of service and forgiveness (and to believe that this is true power)• It‘s ‗foolish‘ to place ourselves in God‘s hands when there are ‗easier‘ ways to get things done
Power of God• It‘s powerful to live on the basis of Christ‘s work for us• It‘s powerful to draw on God‘s strength even when it requires our weakness• It‘s powerful to serve, to forgive, to love – for only then are hearts truly changed• It‘s powerful to let God‘s work be complete in us, to not short-circuit God‘s soul-building process• It‘s powerful to follow God‘s (‗slow‘ and ‗painful‘) approach• It‘s powerful to worship God