Most families go wrong, each in its own predictably unpredictable way. Even parents’ best attempts at forming a healthy family usually backfire because of the arbitrary ways humans respond. Try to be caring and children feel smothered. Let them roam freely and they feel abandoned. Model respect and love and children will pick up a perfectionist vibe and conclude imperfections are not tolerated.
Family is a real challenge. Family is the place where we long to be most safe, yet it is also where we are most vulnerable and most dangerous. And most hurt.
So why should we imagine that it's "good news" that God has a family?
Have you ever heard parents at a ballgame tell a kid who just struck out or missed an easy fly ball, “It’s okay Johnny.” Such words are meant to comfort, but they do nothing to help Johnny do better next time. My kids call this kind of empty comfort “baby talk.” Such a parental attitude doesn’t treat the child as a capable and responsible person, but as a helpless victim of circumstances. God cares so much that he doesn’t just provide the comfort of “it’s okay,” he also offers guidance, instruction, and wisdom for how to live well.
One of the reasons the good news gets lost on many people is that a narrow gospel lacks context– especially for people who are far from God or unfamiliar with the story of Jesus. Proclaiming “Good news! Jesus died for your sins!” fails to sound like good news when heard by people who lack context. This would be akin to declaring, “Good news! Mr. Smith agreed!” Everyone within earshot of such “news” would wonder, Who is Mr. Smith? What did he agree to? With whom did he agree? What’s this agreement have to do with me? Is this agreement good for the one sharing the good news or others or everyone?
Too often the gospel is reduced to the good news that Jesus died for you. While that definition is totally true, it doesn’t seem to tell the whole story. After all, the angels announced to shepherds the “good news” that a Savior had been born (read Luke’s gospel or watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special if you don’t believe me). My hunch is that while the gospel certainly is not less than Jesus’ death and resurrection, it very well may be more.
Facebook used to be fun. But somewhere along the way, we all started using social media to proclaim our own little version of the truth; the gospel the way we see it (and everyone else should see it). Facebook became our tiny digital pulpit from where we could preach to the choir (who amen with their thumbs-up likes) and try to convert the damned (or at least piss them off).
Is there more to the world than what you can see, touch, hear?
Humans are of two persuasions on this question: materialists and spiritualists.
Unless you’re a college philosophy professor, why should you care about these two views of reality? Simple: your opinion on this important topic makes a difference in how you live. I propose the spiritualist view offers a better explanation of reality. Here are three examples of why that is:
Why do liberals and conservatives disagree so fervently? The answer is that they see the world very differently. But how so? This is one of the important questions Jonathan Haidt not only asks but gives a practical, helpful and interesting response.
Sometimes I jokingly describe myself as a recovering Southern Baptist. I’m only half joking. My take is that many Baptist leaders say they are “conservative” theologically, but it turns out their conservative theology is actually a political calculation.
The reason Russell Moore is one of my favorite people for 2016 is that he is a Southern Baptist leader who actually takes theology seriously. As the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, he is the spokesman for the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. In other words, he helps form the message of what it means to live faithfully as a Christian in today’s world.
Leon Bridges is a throwback artist whose music echoes the soulful gospel sounds of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, and he pulls this off without coming off as sentimental and without any sense that he’s mimicking the sound of others. He is his own man, he has his own sound, and his music sounds as fresh in 2016 as it might have in 1966.