Pass the Salt Please.

dubbelzoutSalt. It can be used to relieve bee stings, preserve food, enhance flavor or melt ice and gives seawater its distinctive taste. I willingly admit that I am a picky eater, although I prefer to say that I have a finely tuned palate. The Dutch blood that runs deep into my heritage has hardwired me to appreciate and love the salty taste of DubbelZout (double salt) hard black licorice. This fine Dutch treat has been preserving the Dutch and others for many years. (and yes I am eating them as I write this blog entry)

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Taken in context of the surrounding verses in Colossians 4, this figurative “seasoned with salt” statement is saying this,  let your conversation be uplifting. Paul writes this letter so that we can “talk the walk” that Jesus came to live out among us. Christ’s divine-human nature exemplifies the life that we are to live today. Full of grace, Christ came to love, teach and give. His words that were “seasoned with salt” were spoken to point us towards His Father. Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians from prison, it was meant to be encouraging and uplifting in a time when false teachers were drawing Christians away from the focus of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. His reminder that “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” reminds us of His supremacy over all things.

This passage reminds me of that of James chapter 3 and how he writes about the “Taming of the Tongue”. He asks the question, “Can both fresh water and saltwater flow from the same spring?” Essentially what he is asking is this, can our conversations or words reflect the love of Christ and curse mankind at the same time? According to James the answer is no! Unfortunately, this is how much of the world lives. We will never measure up to the standard of perfection lived out by Jesus because we were born into sin. It is important and key to our faith that we work diligently to reach for that measure of excellence, to ask Him to supply our needs, to give us the wisdom and courage to turn away from sin. The incarnation of Jesus happened so that we would be saved from our sins, so that we could return to a right relationship with our creator, our Father in heaven.  May our conversations be full of grace, uplifting and honoring to God so that others will see Him in us.

Well, That’s Life!

milkWell, that’s life! These words can often be heard after something bad or unlucky has happened. People frequently use these two short words to express their feelings or attitude towards something. I know that I use this phrase more often than I should because once and a while I hear my kids using it. A toy breaks, a cup of milk spills, someone doesn’t get a part in the school play or we miss an opportunity to see a rainbow, “oh well, that’s life!” When something bad happens and we have no control to change it our inclination is to chalk it up as a lesson learned.

Reading through the book of Luke I see a number of examples of “that’s life” as we follow the story of Christ’s life and ministry, but from a slightly different perspective. Let me give you some examples: In Luke 4 we read about Jesus healing Simon’s mother-in-law, in Luke 5 we hear about Jesus calling his disciples. In Luke 7 Jesus raises the son of a widow from the dead, Luke 9 recounts the incredible story of the feeding of the 5000 and Luke 17 records the miraculous healing of 10 Lepers. Of course there are many more stories recorded in the book of Luke, but when we look at these together we can see that in every case these things happened during the everyday happenings of life. There was no committee to plan the feeding of the 5000, the lepers called to Jesus as he was walking by and He just happened to be at Simon’s house when his mother-in-law was sick. My point is this, as Jesus lived among the people, much of the impact He had on their lives happened in the events of everyday real life.

Through our relationship with Christ, we are called to live as He did. The word incarnation means to “take on flesh”, Christ took on our flesh to live among us, to be an example for us and ultimately to die for us so that we can be saved. For us to live an incarnational life today means to reflect Christ’s life in our own. It is in our day to day interactions, our conversations, our attitudes and relationships that shape how people see Christ in us. We won’t get to know people and share in their stories if we are not “on the road” with them. In order for us to have an unforgettable, God honouring impact on our community, a place where people know that they matter to God and to us, we need to go out and be a part of that community.

Understanding the “Word”

mixtapeI wonder how many people still have one or two of these old mixed tapes laying around? I can still remember taking hours of time to make some great compilations of my favorite songs on this now forgotten media. There was something to be said about having access to all your favorite songs in on place. Generally speaking, mixed tapes recorded a specific style or genre of music, one might have had a mix tape for different times and places.

The book of John contains a compilation or collection of verses that follow a specific theme. In the second to last chapter of John we read this statement: “But these (the events and evidence of Jesus’ power and authority) are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (20:31) John begins his book by writing about who Jesus is in relationship to his Father, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (1:1) The expression “Word” John uses here refers to Jesus Christ. This sets the stage for what John writes in verse 1:19, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”. (1:14) Coupled together, these verses give us a clear picture of the meaning of Jesus’ incarnation. Christ’s divine-human nature reveals the love God has for us. Taking on our human nature meant a certain death, a death that was necessary to save the lives of many.

Recorded over and over throughout scripture is the call to believe in Jesus, to have faith and trust in God. Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection are the cornerstones to our faith. Jesus no longer walks among us in the flesh, it is by the power and direction of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we can live and learn to see Him as active and alive. We may not have walked with Jesus like his disciples did, and at times we may feel far removed from the experience of the signs and wonders they witnessed, but I know that God is alive and active here and now. Like the mixed tape, the book of John and other books in the Bible record only a portion of What Jesus did (see verse 20:30). The God-inspired written word (the Bible) is our guide to knowing and loving Him. We need to take the time to listen and allow the words of God to settle into our hearts and minds today.

Hard to Grasp

rubikHave you ever tried to teach someone something and the concept or idea is just lost on them? Someone once tried to teach me how to complete a Rubik’s Cube. First, he showed me how he could do it (which I thought was impressive) and then he tried to explain the theory behind how it works. I felt confident that with his instruction and demonstration I could complete the puzzle, so after a number of failed attempts I simply gave up. Still to this day, I am lucky if I can match one colored face on the cube, and I am ok with that.

“Do you still not understand?” These are the words of Jesus found in Mark 8:21. Jesus was talking to his disciples and the intent of the question goes far beyond the moment of not having any bread to eat. The written words on a page have some limitations as to how we perceive Jesus’ emotions when he asked this question. When you take the time to read the first seven chapters of Mark and see all the things that Jesus has done (driving out impure spirits, healing people, forgiving people, raising a girl from the dead, feeding thousands, etc.) I feel like I can say that He might have felt some level of frustration as he tried to teach the disciples. When I read this question I see it from this perspective, “Do you not yet know who I am?”

I am tempted to say that we have a much better picture of who Jesus is today, but when I think of the disciples being by his side and witnessing the incredible miracles he performed I wonder if we really do? When Jesus came into this world, He became the same as us, flesh and blood. The divine person of Jesus Christ took on our human nature. Through His divine nature we see throughout the book of Mark and the other Gospels evidence of His power and glory. One of the things that helps me connect with knowing who Jesus is as our Saviour is to remember that He walked on the very same earth that I live on, he breathed the very same air that I breathe. It is by faith that I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. it is through His word that I can learn and know more about Him.