Mundane Monday

Monday. coffeemundaneWhat a day! We sigh, we curse, we cry – it’s back to work for most of us. Starting the cycle of another week, so we cling on untill we reach Friday.

But Monday following Sunday is the second day of the week. Monday is actually a good day. On Sunday began a new week and a new life – the Son rose from the dead! And on Monday we can enjoy the warmth and light of the Son by setting our eyes upon the blazing beauty of Jesus. Resurrection brings hope back to our Mondays and every other day of the week.

So then, why Mundane Monday? Living in light of the resurrection seems far from Mundane. Yet I think Jesus brings hope to our mundane, He cooked and ate and walked with friends and did bible studies after his resurrection. It brings a new definition to what we deem as spiritual. Eating, drinking, washing, walking, cleaning, chatting can all be wonderfully full of life and be enjoyed as people in Christ.

The super spiritual of us could ask –

Which is more important: eating, sleeping, reading the bible, going to work, spending time with friends or going to a prayer meeting?

In Christ, all of these are wonderfully important. None of them more spiritual than the other. Some days require a priority of some in order to function in the day. But in Jesus all of these can be enjoyed, because out of the flow of the heart comes praise to the Father for allowing such things in our lives to be done. If my heart is filled with bitterness then it results in none of these being enjoyed and I become a slave to them all. (Which results in having a list of spiritual importance because I think it gets me points or make me a better Christian)

So if your Monday feels Mundane then rejoice. May your eating, sleeping, cleaning, going to the post office, dropping kids off at school, writing coursework, reading your bible and drinking coffee all be done in light of the resurrection. Enjoying the things the Father gives you and giving thanks to Him. If you find your heart struggling then come back and gaze upon Jesus. Isn’t he wonderful? He is the source of your joy so that you can do all things with thanksgiving.

1 Corinthians 10:31

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Jesus or Cheesus?

Ned_FlandersReading the Guardian on my friends table last night I came across an article. An article entitled “I bang my head against the wall when evangelicals turn Jesus into Cheesus No PR agency in the world could sell the disturbing message of a broken man on the cross. That’s why we get Jesus-lite” 

This caught my attention. Why is this in the paper? Giles Fraser writes about Evangelicals display Jesus and that it often turns into a Cheesus PR campaign.

My guess is that he hates this falseness. Perhaps he sees a hypocrisy in contrast to the Jesus he has read about? It’s interesting to see how he feels Christians come across to the world and the Jesus they are presenting.

So who is the Jesus he has read about? This is what he says:

“The disciples run away, unable to cope with the impossible demands placed upon them. The hero they gave up everything to follow is exposed to public ridicule and handed over to Roman execution. And the broken man on the cross begins to fear that God is no longer present.

The fact that this is not the end of the story does not take away from the fact that tragedy will always be folded into the experience of faith. Even the resurrected Jesus bears the scars of his suffering. A man who has been through something like that will never smile that cheesy smile or think of faith as some sunny suburban upspeak.”

The suffering Christ is devastating, its weak, it brings about judgement, darkness, the weight of sin suffering placed upon his shoulders. Jesus doesnt bare a cheesy smile. Jesus cries out in pain. This isn’t a bumper sticker moment.
This moment should make us weep.

But it also gives us great joy. This is what Giles Fraser is missing. He says:

“Which is why, for the worst sort of Cheesus-loving evangelicals, the cross of Good Friday is actually celebrated as a moment of triumph. This is theologically illiterate. Next week, in the run up to Easter, Christianity goes into existential crisis. It fails.”

The cross looks like failure to the world. It looks weak and pathetic. But it IS a moment of triumph. Those evangelical cheesus Christians have it right – it’s a place of victory.

It is finished – Jesus cries.(John 19v30)

A wave of hope washes over me. My sin is dealt with. The punishment has been paid for in full. The blood shed is covering me.

The_Cross_religious_Renaissance_Mannerism_Antonio_da_CorreggioAt first glance the cross looks like a massive fail. But then look again. There is no failure here. My sin is being dealt with. The Father is showing how much he loves us by sending his Son to die for us. (John 3v16) Come and look at the cross again. 

Giles Fraser concludes with:

“But the problem with PR Christianity is that it can easily transform Jesus into Cheesus, which is a form of Jesus-lite, a romantic infatuation, a Mills & Boon theology that makes you feel all warm inside. The Gospels, however, tell an altogether more disturbing story. And there is no PR agency in the world that could sell the message of a man who told his followers that they too would have to go the way of the cross. That’s the problem with Cheesus. He won’t really suffer and he doesn’t ever die.”

In some sense he is right – we don’t want a Cheesus. We don’t want Jesus-lit or a mills and boons theology. But we DO want the cross and we most certainly want the resurrection. Thats what puts a smile across our face – Jesus is alive. Giles Fraser is right, a cheesus wont ever suffer or die. And we don’t want that Cheesus. But we want a Jesus that suffers, dies and rises again!! That is the good news of the Gospel.

And who is this PR agency that he believes could never sell this message? The message that we all must die to ourselves and carry our cross? Who possible could be this PR agency? Well, for the last 2000 years the PR agency has been the bride of Christ – the Church. The church is the one that beckons people to come and see Christ, come and die to yourself, come and find comfort in this suffering servant who deals with your sin and come and rejoice in the resurrection. Sometimes we get that wrong and it can look like a cheesus. But we as the church are the ones to display Christ to the world – a suffering christ, a weak but triumphant Cross and a glorious resurrection.

Black Mirror: Life, Death and Resurrection

blackmirrorI have come to an end of my mini series of engaging with the Black Mirror series. I only looked at 3 episodes but there are another 3 you can watch and they are worth watching, I just felt these 3 really resonated with me. I enjoyed observing and thinking about the ideas that black mirror presents to us. It challenges us on how we use social networking, technology, how we view ourselves and our desires and society. There are many other themes within these episodes that I did not talk about. But the ones I picked out were:

15 Million Merits: The fullness of life: Looking at Incarnation – the real, the dirt and the humanity of people. The tendency to hide in a virtual world where we become numb and lifeless and we find ourselves craving for something real and something true. So we must come and look at Christ who offers us fullness of life which is found in the reality of how fully human He is. Flesh not virtual.

The Entire History of You: Imagine you could remember everything. Nothing is forgotten. The only way to forgive someone is by erasing them from your memory. But is that enough? Does that really produce genuine forgiveness in your heart? Jesus offers us something better. He offers himself on the cross for true forgiveness and healing.

Be Right Back: We desire our loved ones back. We desire resurrection. But not a lifeless, hollow resurrection. Not a life that can only be found on facebook or in any virtual world. We want full, life filled resurrection. We want life after death. We want real hope. Jesus offers us real and true resurrection. When he said “Be right Back” He came back as a new creation, eating, drinking and fully beautiful. Only Jesus offers that.

So those are the three:

Incarnation, The Cross and Resurrection.

Life to the Full, Truly Forgiven, Life after death.

The world craves and yearns for it but it can only and ever come through and in Jesus Christ.

Black Mirror: Be Right Back

Black Mirror-brb  When you lose a loved one it feels like you are slung into an empty pit. A pit of darkness and numbness, with high walls and thin air. It is horrible and you would do anything to have them back. In the episode “Be right back” from Black Mirror it explores the idea of bringing back a loved one. Not like in some strange zombie way. At first its in a way that would ease pain and then it becomes strange.

Martha loses her husband which is devastating and as a method of coping her friend signs her up to the latest technology where a computer program can glean information about your loved one so that you can talk to them. They gather that information from facebook, twitter and e-mails. The more activity online the better. Martha can then start to chat with her dead husband (Ash) through this program. This program simulates Ash in a convincing way and Martha spends hours talking to him, spends hours on the internet and then on the phone as the program updates and it can sound exactly like Ash. It sounds strangely comforting. Imagine being able to talk to your loved one again? Being able to hear their voice one lastartificial-intelligence-ai- time. Being able to say I love you. It’s a very human response.

But there is a next step. Black Mirror takes us further. What if you could actually see your loved one? Where they physically returned to you as a very realistic robot (think less terminator and more AI or the Bionic Man). They would look like your loved one, same hair, eyes and skin colour. They would sound like your loved one. At any glance you would think it was them. It seems like a truly remarkable resurrection.

But a few hitches were encountered. Ash wasn’t really Ash. Ash was a computer program pretending to be Ash. Acting very much like him, but not really him. She hates how empty he is and she yearns for the real Ash. She cries:

““No, but you’re not you, are you? You’re just a few ripples of you. There’s no history to you. You’re just a performance of stuff that he performed without thinking and it’s not enough.”

I think Charlie Brooker is confronting our addiction to social media and our tendency to become so absorbed in it that it shows a few ripples of you, but it isn’t actually you. When thinking about this show my thought turned to fullness of life and real resurrection. Martha showed a great yearning – a yearning for Ash when he was alive and buried in his phone on blackmirrorbrbfacebook and then a yearning for Ash when he died and she was faced with a hollow resurrection.

I mentioned in my previous post on fullness of life in the Reality of Escapism. A virtual world that numbs us. In this episode Be Right Back, there is a desire for fullness of resurrection. We want our loved ones back. We want them back not in shell or on a facebook page. We want the fully flesh and fully human loved one back.

When Jesus rose from the dead, he didn’t come back zombie like or ghost like. He came back physically, with wholeness, eating and walking. He came back as a demonstration of the new creation. Resurrection is no empty shell. You will be fully alive, eating, drinking and wonderfully real as you can get with no sin or shame attached. Resurrection is beautiful. Martha was right to yearn for it. It’s a desire in us. We have eternity set in our hearts.

It’s good to yearn for life after death. But real resurrection and life can’t come through an android,  iphone or facebook. Thats not where to live or be raised to life from. Resurrection and life come only through the resurrection of Jesus. I’d like to say that this is an easy thing. But to get to resurrection there must be death. To get to the fullness of life there can be pain and suffering. The sting of death has been defeated – its claws and chains are gone. But there is still a wave of hurt and pain that comes over us when death knocks on the door. When that happens whats should we do? When looking for comfort where should we go? Not to social networking, but to Jesus. Come to Jesus who has been raised to life. He is the fullness of Resurrection and you will find all comfort in him. There is some solace in social networking, friendships and bonds that can help. But first come to Jesus – seek life in Him.

Christmas: Eat, Drink and be Merry

eatdrinkmerryAdvent Day 14

Vanity of Vanities cries the Preacher. All is meaningless. The book of Ecclesiastes feels very apt for our time. Everything can feel like a toil and a meaningless toil at that. The solution would seem to be:

Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. (Ecclesiastes 5:18 ESV)

Just eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow we die. Christmas is a time to be merry and eat lots of food until you are stuffed like a Turkey. It would seem we partly do this because there is no meaning in life and life itself is very short and slipping away so we should get on and enjoy ourselves and yet even this in itself is a vanity. The preacher then goes on to say that death is meaningless:

In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing. (Ecclesiastes 7:15 ESV)

It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath. (Ecclesiastes 9:2 ESV)

It seems even if a righteous man dies, it is meaningless. Death happens to everyone and it feels empty and meaningless.

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of a baby that was destined to die. The Son of God, a righteous man was born to die. It would seem hopeless and meaningless. As they laid him in the tomb did they whisper “Vanity of Vanities”?

But, he didn’t stay dead. He rose to life and as he burst through death ripping out its sting, he came alive with all hope and meaning. No longer is life a vanity. No longer is life about eating and drinking to escape some meaningless reality or because tomorrow we die. Instead life is about resurrection. And because of resurrection we can now eat and drink and be merry for the hope and life we have before us.

Christmas is about the one who will  be resurrected, so that we can eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we live!