Posts Tagged ‘Gospel’

Food & the Kingdom of God

by   |  02.07.18  |  Alumni

Food & the Kingdom of God

Part 3 of 3

Read Part 1 and Part 2 here!

Spend a short time reading Scripture and quickly we discover food becomes a place where people encounter God. To name a few: Abraham welcoming three strangers, Moses and the elders eating with God on the mountain, Elijah being fed by a widow, tax collectors and prostitutes welcomed to dine at a table with Jesus, Peter being welcomed to a table of fish cooked on a charcoal fire, the Corinthian church sharing a communal meal at worship. Sharing food was a means whereby people could encounter God and experience the salvation of God. Sharing food is a means whereby we encounter God and experience the in-breaking kingdom of God.

Jesus Gathered Around Tables of Food

Before we talk about tables of food, can we be reminded of the synagogue: the place of worship? The synagogue was the place where Scripture was read and preached. The synagogue was where the people of God were formed deeper into the life of God. The synagogue became a place where God’s people were reminded of who they were and what they were called to be in this world. The synagogue was vitally important for the formation of God’s people. Jesus spent a lot of time in the synagogue.

Did Jesus ever invite people to join him in the synagogue in ways that resemble the invitation we extend to people to join us in our places of worship on Sunday morning? Jesus certainly told people he healed to go and show themselves to the priest. Yes, Jesus was a regular participant in the life of a synagogue. But, did Jesus ever invite people to join him in the synagogue? More »

Reading Scripture in the Context of a Neighborhood

by   |  01.11.18  |  Alumni

Reading Scripture in the Context of a Neighborhood

Part 2 of 3

A few years ago, I was sitting with Anna Carter Florence when the question was posed concerning how we read Scripture. I do not remember fully what Florence said, except that she was wondering if the location of reading Scripture mattered. Does the location by which Scripture is read and proclaimed matter? Do we hear the words of Scripture differently depending upon the location? Hearing God speak on the mountain versus hearing God speak in the wilderness—does location matter?

Ever since I sat with Florence that afternoon and listened to her theologically wonder about the location of reading Scripture, I’ve been paying attention to the location in which the community of faith is hearing Scripture.


We live in a “sea of words,” writes Richard Lischer (1). There are many words competing for our attention. We could also describe our lives as busy, conflicting, and overburdened. And yet, we intentionally set time aside to gather as a community in worship so that we can hear the Word of God. We carve out time in our lives to respond to the One who calls us deeper into the life of God. In worship we hear the living Word of God proclaimed. In a “sea of words”, we intentionally tune our ears to hear God speak through the words of Scripture.

Bible Studies More »

Knowing Your Neighborhood

by   |  12.15.17  |  Alumni

Knowing Your Neighborhood

Part 1 of 3

One Sunday morning, years ago, a refugee family showed up at church and they kept coming back. I walked out of the office one afternoon, made my way up the street, and knocked on the front door of where the refugees were living. The door opened and the gift of hospitality was extended. Over coffee, I learned of their story. I also learned this family was deeply committed to the life of Christ.

Over the next several months I would continue to unexpectedly drop in. One day the matriarch of the family said something similar to the following:

Seeing you at our front door reminds me of our church back home. Back home the preacher was the priest who made daily visits to the neighbors. The neighborhood knew the priest and the priest knew the neighborhood. But it seems, in North America, the neighborhood doesn’t know the priest and the priest doesn’t know the neighborhood.

Ethnography of the Neighborhood

A common refrain by those engaged in the missional church conversation is that the church does not have a mission, but the mission of God has a church. Those leading the conversation then help churches discover the avenues in which churches can join God already in His mission. However, often what is lacking in these conversations is knowledge of the neighborhood we are sent too (Luke 10:1-12). If we are going to be communities of faith announcing the nearness of God’s kingdom while we heal, cast out demons, and receive hospitality by the strangers, I wonder if one of the first steps we must take is to know the neighborhood to which we are being sent. More »

Does the Gospel Sell Itself? (part 4)

by   |  05.04.10  |  Uncategorized

Mark Hamilton, PhD - Associate Dean, Associate Professor of Old Testament, ACU Graduate School of Theology

Mark Hamilton, PhD - Associate Dean, Associate Professor of Old Testament, ACU Graduate School of Theology

Does the Gospel sell itself?  That’s how I began this series of posts, and that’s how I’ll end it.  If we are on a road alongside of which are exits to narcissism, self-indulgence, and self-promotion, and the Heavenly City seems further away in our rearview mirrors, then how do we change directions?  (I’ll drop the metaphor there, if you don’t mind!)  I’ve tried to set out some of the interpersonal and intellectual challenges because to reflect theologically and to act on the basis of that reflection, we need to consider several factors.

But here’s the final one, and the decisive one.  What does God want?  Now, I know that this question is tricky and easily hijacked by various sides of any given debate.  If you want change, you point to the God of renewal, and if you don’t want change, you mention the old paths.  Both sets of languages — both descriptions of the nature of God — have biblical warrant.  Which one applies at a given moment depends on several factors, not all of which everyone will agree upon.  Moreover, Christians have a wide range of views of just how specific God intends to be.  Neo-Calvinists assume that the sovereignty of God implies a very high degree of planning of human lives, while most other Christians are content to think of God painting in the cosmic picture in broader, more impressionistic strokes.  I do not say any of this to be cynical, but simply to note that I am aware of the hazards.

Still, as a Christian, I must always ask myself what God wants.  It is not legitimate to try to escape the question, if you want to think in Christian ways.  Here are some things (not everything!) that Scripture, which I believe to be the best indication of God’s will that we have, seems to think God wants from us:

1. Let’s be passionate about the search for God.  Christians should pray a lot and with passion.  If we spent more time on our knees, we might spend less time wringing our hands or shouting.  As Paul said to the Athenians, God has given us evidence of nearness by raising Jesus from the dead.  The search is not an idle quest for an elusive goal, but the pursuit of one lover for another seeking rest together.

2.  Let’s care about the stranger.  I have long been struck by Exodus’s story of the redemption of Israel and the legal conclusions that the text draws from that experience: “you shall not oppress a stranger; you know the heart of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9).  Perhaps Christians are so hostile to immigrants and other vulnerable people because we have concluded that this land really is our land, not simply a place on loan from God while we move toward our final home.  Have we forgotten that we too are strangers, that we too are redeemed people?

3. Let’s remember that we are in this together.  It is distressing to watch churches split over issues that can only be classified as trivial.  I have always found that praying for those with whom I disagree (which is quite a few people, as it happens!) or whom I found narrow and annoying and petty (also a fairly large group) changes things.  Very few Christians are so alienated from their own calling that we cannot find in them something to cherish. More »