Christian perspective

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A personal view...

Passion of the Christ

The prophecy

Some Bible texts I find inspiring and challenging...

A confrontation of economic and theological approaches to "ending poverty" in Africa

The financial crisis, private and public debt - contrasting the approaches of economics and theology (draft)

 

A personal view

I find the intellectual case for the Christian faith overwhelming. But it is still only part of the story; Christianity is the answer to the deepest needs of all humanity. Thanks to God's love for us, it "works". Jesus promised us abundant life here on earth as well as in heaven if we put him first in our lives. I want to illustrate how God fulfils our needs by my own experiences since I became a Christian 6 years ago:

The need for love and human relationships: My relationship with my wife has been transformed as we have grown together as Christians rather than "walking alone together". I have found time to be with my children rather than letting work take over, without harming the latter. We have discovered the loving fellowship of a Christian community in our church. Encouraging and building people up at work has become a source of joy to me, following Christ's bidding. My hard heart has been softened through giving. 

The need for understanding: observing nature, I thank God for all he has created, and through study I have found my faith strengthened by the fact that science often points to evidence of design in nature and the universe. I worry less (about money and health in particular), knowing God will provide for my needs. 

The need for a relationship with God via prayer: By prayer I can come before God to adore him, say sorry and give thanks as well as make requests. It is evident to me that God hears such requests in prayer, even if they are not always fulfilled in the way or at the time we desire. Nevertheless, I have met individuals whose abrupt recovery from terminal conditions - following prayer - has baffled doctors. I have witnessed previously disturbed houses left totally peaceful after being prayed through. I have seen many other answers to prayer, including individuals coming to faith after prayers by their loved ones.

These are not all; for example Christianity fulfils the need for a purpose in life: Jesus bids us remake the world as the kind of place God intended when he created it. That includes helping the poor, the environment and the local community.

Of course, on this earth nothing will be perfect - we will always have troubles - but Jesus' love helps us to overcome them. My family has felt Jesus' presence in recent intense suffering due to illness of one of our children, supported by our church's prayers. I was in a car crash in 2003 this year that wrote off much metal - but the drivers were apparently unscathed, and all three of us felt that God had been protecting us (I had called loudly for God's protection as the car spun round in total darkness). Through Jesus' promise of eternal life, death, such as that of my believing mother, loses its finality - I was comforted that we will meet again, while God fulfilled her prayer to die quickly and not be a burden to others. These experiences show the truth of Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

I still do many wrong things but have the assurance that God will remember them no more if I am truly sorry. But the worst thing I did was to waste 40 years in the fruitless pursuit of happiness through accumulating more "stuff" (career, house, possessions), before becoming a Christian. Some others might seek comfort through social advancement, drink or affairs. 

I implore readers to put their trust in Jesus and his freely offered salvation before it is too late. All you need to start your new life is to pray this simple prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ,

I know that I have sinned and done things that have hurt you.

I am willing to turn away from what is wrong in my life.

I want to go where you lead in the future.

Thank you for dying on the cross so that I might be forgiven.

Come into my life this day; Come in as my Saviour and Lord: Come in to be with me for ever.

Thank you Lord Jesus. Amen.

Then join a loving Christian community.

 

Passion of the Christ

You have no doubt heard about this film in the press and on TV. I just want to say that having seen it, I thoroughly recommend you to see it - it is literally stunning in its power. Although I speak as a Christian, I am convinced that followers of other faiths - or none - will also find it provides deep and challenging insights.

See the following websites for further insight:


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0335345/
http://movies.yahoo.com/shop?d=hv&cf=info&id=1808434070
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/ThePassionoftheChrist-1129941/
http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/passion.htm
http://www.stlukes.org.uk/why/index.htm

 

The Prophecy

Everything that happens to Christ  is foreshadowed in the following amazing prophecy made 500 or more years ago before Jesus lived:

Isaiah 52.13-53.12

See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.

Just as there were many who were appalled at him--
his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man
and his form marred beyond human likeness-- so will he sprinkle many nations,
and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
and what they have not heard, they will understand.

Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Some Bible texts I have found inspiring and challenging in thinking about study, work, finance...

 

Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Esteem her, and she will exalt you;embrace her, and she will honour you. (Proverbs 4:7-8) Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.  (Ecclesiastes 11:6)
You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth. (Deuteronomy 8:17-18) As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone. You know the commandments: `Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.' ""Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy." Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!" (Mark 10:17-23)
When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future. (Ecclesiastes 7:14) Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men (Colossians 3:23)
What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. (Ecclesiastes 2:22) Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. (Ecclesiastes 12:12)
Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. (Ecclesiastes 5:10) Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment  (Ecclesiastes 11:9)
A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions. (Proverbs 18:2) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. (Proverbs 1:7)
Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." (James 4:13-15) Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow. (Proverbs 13:11)