Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Leader or Tour Guide?

Ten spies with a bad report outvoted the two with a good report, and the word they brought back to Israel about the Promised Land reflected their attempt to justify their own reaction (Numbers 13:30-33).

Israel then 1) raised a loud cry; 2) wept; then 3) grumbled against their leaders (Numbers 14:1-4) -- a familiar sequence in ministry. In their dialogue with themselves (there is no record that they actually discussed this with Moses, or with God) they concluded "Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt."

In this instance they did not want a leader: they simply wanted a tour guide. They had already decided what they wanted and "leadership" -- from God or otherwise -- was the last thing on their minds. Leaders such as Israel wanted in this instance are the ones used to trip the booby traps or be the first ones eaten in a bear attack.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Is the Lord's Hand Shortened?

Before Jesus fed the five thousand (John 6) he had just delivered a sermon in which he based his authority to forgive sins on the fact that he only did what the Father gave him to do. Interestingly, he cites to them the example of Moses (John 5:45), and that because they did not believe Moses, they would not believe him.

Moses, it turns out, dealt with the same problem in Numbers 11. The people grumbled against God and his provision of manna, and God promised to fill them so full of the meat they craved until it “comes out at your nostrils” (Numbers 11:20). Moses, like Philip and Andrew after him, couldn’t see how God could provide meat to 600,000+ hungry Israelites. God told Moses, “Is the Lord’s hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not” (Numbers 11:23).

The people followed Jesus because of the signs he performed. Philip and Andrew thought that Jesus’ hand was shortened: how could he feed 5,000+ hungry groupies? And Jesus – forgetting all ‘seeker-sensitive’ principles – told the crowd that they only liked him because he fed their bellies.

Using the incident of Moses, manna, nostril-filling quail, and the loaves and fishes, Jesus points out that they don’t really need to have their bellies filled, but they really need their souls filled. And what was it that would fill their hungry souls? Why, the same Jesus who worked only what God told him to and fed 5,000+ in a miraculous way. “I am the bread of life,” he said. “Fill yourself with me.”

Indeed, now you shall see.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Reverse Copernican Revolution

Scientists, intellectuals and those generally predisposed against organized religion railed against the resistance of the church and other conservatives to the notion that the Sun, not Earth, was the center of our solar system. That resistance remains the basis of criticism that the church and conservatives are "anti-scientific."

What a difference a few centuries makes.

Now, the church and conservatives are advocating restraint against the wholesale reordering of world societies -- and the economic and social upheaval it will cause -- around the generally unproven notion that there is such a thing as "man-made global warming."

Now, it is the so-called scientists and intellectuals who advocate "green" everything with dire predictions (whose deadlines are constantly revised) of the melting of polar ice caps, submerged Caribbean islands, and the images of hapless polar bears with no ice to call home. Apocalyptic language, it seems, is not the sole province of religious types. Then again, the "blind faith" frequently ridiculed by intellectual culture seems now to be held by those worshiping at a green altar.

With revelations that green science may, in fact, have intentionally manipulated data in order to promote its agenda, it would seem that they are the ones now insisting that the earth is the center of the universe.

Perhaps this is the Copernican revolution in reverse.