Christ is both our goal and our way

Christ is everything to the believer. Our lives follow his.This short reflection from Augustine's City of God shows us that Christ is the goal of human life and the way we walk toward that goal. He's the point and the path. (I've paraphrased it here from Marcus Dods' translation.)Man is properly understood to be made in God’s image. This is the higher part of his nature that transcends the lowly animals and brings him nearer to the Supreme. But while the human mind is naturally capable o … [Read more...]

Run your race with intensity

The apostle Paul compares our life in Christ to a footrace. Like any race this is one that only the diligent will win.Go back to your childhood story time. Though he had every advantage, Aesop's hare lost to the tortoise because he dawdled and frittered. We face the same temptations, but Paul exhorts us to run with intensity: Run like you want to win.Says the apostle, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?" This isn't to say that only one will … [Read more...]

In Christ we ascend beyond the angels

It is sometimes easy to focus on how sinful we are. Our frailty and failings stand in stark contrast to the life we hope and believe we can live in Christ. Focus on these things too long and we can become very discouraged. But there are reasons for encouragement, and one example can be found by looking at a song about Jesus’ mother.Orthodox and Eastern Catholic believers sing a short hymn about Mary called the “Axion Estin,” or “It is Truly Meet,” which declares her “more honorable than the … [Read more...]

It’s the little sins that kill you

Judas Iscariot didn't begin with betrayal in mind, and David didn't intend adultery and murder. But then one day they sat alone, their minds consumed with guilt and recrimination, the deeds done.How? Judas was one of the twelve. David was a man after God's own heart. What went wrong? The question is important if we want to avoid our own personal and spiritual disasters.One thing I know: It's not the exotic sins that get us. We're mastered by the moral failures we've already made mundane … [Read more...]

April fools for Christ

The Bible presents us two kinds of folly, both very different. We meet the first in Proverbs. It's the folly of the person who denies the existence of God, the person who embraces a materialist worldview.We encounter the second in the writings of the apostle Paul. This folly proclaims a God so real and imminent and palpable that he takes human flesh, walks among us, and expunges our sins upon the cross.These two views are as different as whisky and chicken broth.In a flatly … [Read more...]

Making grace stick

Sometimes we face problems in life that really rub us wrong, abrasive and hurtful experiences that we would never characterize as good. Like everyone, I have come through many of these episodes; in hindsight some of them even make sense. I'd go so far as to say that I'm grateful for them.Here's one way to think about these situations. … [Read more...]

Hippies, monks, and Lent

Here we are in the middle of Lent and I'm stuck on hippies.I've always been fascinated by the 1960s. These were wild and momentous years, populated by colorful and absurd characters whose impact far outstripped their usefulness. But drop the whole psychedelic mess into the period of the Great Fast and a compelling comparison of cultures emerges, one that might change how we see ourselves. … [Read more...]