It is instructive, then, to see that Paul takes the gospel literally into the public square. It means that he did not see the Christian faith as only able to change individual hearts. He believed that the gospel had what it took to engage the thinking public, the cultural elites, and to challenge the dominant cultural ideas of the day. He was after converts of course—he was first and foremost a church planter, not a theologian or Christian philosopher. But he wouldn’t have been able to engage the hearts of cultural leaders unless he also engaged the ideas of the culture itself. He did not shrink from that challenge. He did not merely try to find individual philosophers to evangelize in a corner. He addressed them as a culture, a public community.
Here is a lecture by Tim Keller on why your work matters to God and why God matters to your work. This is a bit of an intro to his forthcoming book Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work.
Tim Keller has an excelled article on CNN.com today. Here is an excerpt:
We don’t know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, or why it is so random, but now at least we know what the reason isn’t, what it can’t be.
It can’t be that he doesn’t love us. It can’t be that he doesn’t care. He is so committed to our ultimate happiness that he was willing to plunge into the greatest depths of suffering himself.
Someone might say, “But that’s only half an answer to the question ‘Why?’” Yes, but it is the half that we need. If God actually explained all the reasons why he allows things to happen as they do, it would be too much for our finite brains.
What we truly need is what little children need. They can’t understand most of what their parents allow and disallow for them. They need to know their parents love them and can be trusted. We need to know the same thing about God.
A reminder from Tim Keller, concerning what Scripture is primarily about.
HT: Justin Taylor
Third Millennium Ministries published an excerpt from an old sermon of Tim Keller’s on Matthew 11.2-6 on “Who is the Real Jesus” . . . and it gets right to the heart.
1) I am thinking about becoming a Christian, or I am thinking about Christianity and want to know whether it is true, but I am struggling. I want to be a doctor and I don’t whether I will make it through med-school. Will Jesus help me get through med-school? Or
2) I am struggling because I have a bad marriage and am thinking of getting a divorce. What is the Christian view on divorce? Will I be supported?
3) I have a problem with self-esteem. I have a problem with guilt. I have been in a lot of abusive relationships. If I come to Jesus, will he make me fell good about myself?
4) I am gay, and I want to know that if when I come to Christianity, will I be supported or will I be condemned?
What is Jesus answer to those four questions? They are actually all the same. You know what his answer is? Not yes, not no. He says that they are the wrong first question because of the reason the thief was wrong and John was right. The reason the thief says I want to know what you are going to do about my life before I give myself to you. I want to know whether you are the messiah by the way in which you support me. In other words, the thief says, if you let me live the way I know I should live then I know you are the one … and John the Baptist just says, “Are you the one?” And the reason that John is right and the thief is wrong, is not because John is more spiritual, but because he is more sensible. And that is this. The thief, and everybody who asks one of those four questions assumes they already know how their life should be lived, who they really are, and how the world out to go before they know whether he is the Author of life … Whether He is the One your heart was built for. How in the world can you assume that you know who you are and what you need before you even know if you were created or were an accident? How can you know who you are and what you were made for before you know whether you can communicate with and know the creator of the universe?
Leviticus 19.4 “Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the Lord your God.”
“It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.” – Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters
If we want to identify our idols, we can ask ourselves some very simple diagnostic questions.
If you have answered these questions, you have likely found some of the idols of your heart.
For instance, just yesterday I was driving to a meeting in a neighboring city. For about 10-12 of the miles I was stuck behind two trucks carrying the two halves of a modular home. They took up both lanes and made it impossible to pass.
I must admit two things: they were actually doing a good job of keeping up with the speed limit and according to my GPS I would easily make it to my meeting on time.
So how did I respond? I got frustrated that I could not get around these trucks. I was irritated and sulking for that entire 10-12 miles. Why was I so upset? My idols were at work. Which one? Take your pick . . . but maybe my control idol. Particularly when I am driving I enjoy the control that I have . . . I am the king of the road. That is why I do not like people driving slow in the left lane. (It’s for passing right?) When my ability to control a situation is taken away, suddenly I am frustrated and begin to get angry.
Why do we . . . no take that back . . . why do I so easily find my life so easily upset? My heart is an Idol Factory.
“From this we may gather that man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” – John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion
“. . . every one of us is, even from his mother’s womb, expert in inventing idols.” – John Calvin, Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles
I am a big fan of audiobooks. They help to make unproductive times more productive (e.g. driving in the car).
Every month the folks over at ChristianAudio give away a book of the month. This month the book is Tim Keller’s Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road (Unabridged). This is one of the best books out there on mercy ministry. I would highly recommend it. Use “AUG2010” as a coupon code when you checkout and it is free.
I’m downloading it now.