Who are these men: Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sethur, Nahbi, Geuel?
You might well have guessed that they are the ten men sent out from the tribes of Israel with Joshua and Caleb to explore the Promised Land, and who came back with a report lacking faith – you can read it in Numbers 13.
Faith can be a battle in which we need all the help we can get. Consider the command (not advice) contained in 2 Timothy 3:1-5
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
“In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”
C. S. Lewis
Matthew 9 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest tosend out laborers into his harvest.“
Romans 10 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Isaiah 6 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
Rob Bell (famous for the Nooma videos) is publishing a new book, Love Wins. This is the video publicising it:
One quote from the blurb issued by Harper Collins, the books publishers;
Fans flock to his Facebook page, his NOOMA videos have been viewed by millions, and his Sunday sermons are attended by 10,000 parishioners—with a downloadable podcast reaching 50,000 more. An electrifying, unconventional pastor whom Time magazine calls “a singular rock star in the church world,” Rob Bell is the most vibrant, central religious leader of the millennial generation. Now, in Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering. With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic—eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins.
Is there anything wrong with that statement?
In class we have talked about God being God-centred – it is not an easy concept to take hold of especially when we like to think salvation and the plans of God are all about us. I shudder to think how many Christians cannot see beyond themselves to the greater plan of God. Anyhow on the Desiring God blog we see Bradd Pitt finding the same difficulty and John Piper answering his problem.
In a 2007 interview for Parade, actor Brad Pitt describes how he stumbled, as C.S. Lewisand Michael Prowse and Erik Reece before him, over God’s ego.
Pitt was raised a conservative Southern Baptist. For a while, his religion worked. But not for long.
Religion works. I know there’s comfort there, a crash pad. It’s something to explain the world and tell you there is something bigger than you, and it is going to be alright in the end. It works because it’s comforting. I grew up believing in it, and it worked for me in whatever my little personal high school crisis was, but it didn’t last for me.
Why not? He points to the ego of God.
I didn’t understand this idea of a God who says, “You have to acknowledge me. You have to say that I’m the best, and then I’ll give you eternal happiness. If you won’t, then you don’t get it!” It seemed to be about ego. I can’t see God operating from ego, so it made no sense to me.
So there it is again.
God is infinitely wise, just, holy, strong, and good. But God’s command that we see him for what he is, and be glad about it, is the reason Pitt found God unintelligible. God’s god-ness has always been the main problem.
There is an answer to the seeming egomania of God, and his demand that we embrace him as the supreme—and supremely satisfying—Treasure of the universe:
Reason #1 — He is supremely valuable and supremely satisfying.
Reason #2 — Receiving him as such is the only way we will find full, everlasting joy.
Reason #3 — Therefore, his demand that we do so is love, not egomania.
Pray for the thousands of Brad Pitts to see that God’s demand for worship is a demand that we enjoy what is supremely enjoyable.