One of the great questions occupying the minds of theologians and pastors alike is how the Church can respond to an increasingly pluralistic, diverse, global world where the Church is no longer in control of the dominant narrative.
The tax collector entered the temple a sinner in the eyes of all but went home justified (Luke 18:14). Zacchaeus the outcast was called to climb down from a tree and host the most Holy God in his ill-gotten home (Luke 19:5).
We’ve all heard the standard account by now, or at least some variation of it: overemphasize God’s justification of sinners through the Gospel, apart from the Law, and then the Law has no positive use in the lives of Christians.
We are all familiar with Paul’s thematic declaration in Romans that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). The Gospel is that power because it does everything that needs to be done to save sinners. It bestows the saving gifts and works faith.
“My mom’s never gonna forgive me!” She was right. Her mom never forgave her. I was translating for the 15-year-old minor the words of the defense attorney. He wanted to convince her that if she behaved well in the foster home, she could go back home.
We may feel righteous indignation against the drunk driver in court, but before God, we are no different. God looks into the DNA of our hearts and measures our extremely high level of lust, envy, pious pride, even intellectual, religious pride.
We try believing in more abstract concepts: justice (always out of reach), happiness (never fully defined), and self-improvement (with more definitions than a dictionary), only to find that we can never truly grasp which standards should be accepted and which should be rejected.
This is clear: He who disregards Christ disregards God hidden in suffering. For this reason that theologian prefers works to suffering, glory to the cross, strength to weakness, wisdom to folly, and, in general, good to evil.
When the Family Court judge called the next name on the calendar, an elderly couple slowly made their way to the table. Each one sat on either end. I took my place in the middle as their interpreter before the judge in the proceedings.