Archive for December 2012

The Hosea Principle

December 13, 2012

ShepherdsNativityI’ve been reading a great book by John Ortberg entitled Who Is This Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus. It’s about the influence of Christ and his teachings on human culture and history. I’m glad to be reading this book during Advent. Learning about all the ways Jesus’ first advent (i.e. coming) has changed the world helps me really look forward to his second advent.

Most of us, without knowing it, experience the profound and pervasive effects of Jesus and his teachings on education, medicine, government, human rights and economics. Ironically, we who are experiencing most of the benefits are also becoming less and less likely to give Jesus his due. Ortberg writes: “Historian Philip Jenkins noted that the most striking church change in our day is that a hundred years ago, 80 percent of all followers of Jesus lived in Europe and the United States. Today about 70 percent of all followers of Jesus live in the southern hemisphere, South America, Africa, and the East. Jenkins writes, ‘Christianity is flourishing wonderfully among the poor and persecuted while it atrophies among the rich and secure.'” (more…)

An Even Better Story

December 5, 2012

MotherTeresaYesterday’s gospel reading talked about a man who planted a vineyard and rented it to some farmers. Of course, when you rent from a landlord, you expect to pay, well, rent. But these tenants decided to withhold their rent. Instead, they pummeled the rent-collectors, which would have sounded pretty foolish to those who first heard the story. What were those tenants thinking?  Then again, what was the landowner thinking when he sent his son to collect the rent? Why not just call the cops, or lead a small army of friends and servants to collect the rent and evict the tenants? Why risk the life of your own son?

Some of Jesus’ parables communicate a moral. This one communicates the gospel. Like many of Jesus’ parables, instead of stating the facts, it understates the facts. It leaves the reader to make the comparisons with the real story and to fill in the blanks. (more…)