Manifest Destiny and the Kingdom of God: How Do You Discern the Spirit of the Age from the Spirit of Jesus on Mission?

William Sherman Memorial, New York

How manifest was Jesus’ destiny as King of God’s kingdom? Not very. Unlike America’s destiny which was proclaimed or made manifest to the nations as exceptional and second to none, Jesus’ kingdom was not very visible or exceptional by human standards. After all, John the Baptist only knows Jesus is the Messiah because of the Spirit’s descent as a dove upon Jesus at his baptism of repentance in the wilderness (See John 1:33). A dove? A baptism of repentance? In the wilderness? (See … [Read more...]

Shrewd Serpents, Innocent Doves and Voice-Activated Copy Machines

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Jesus exhorted his followers sent out on mission to be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves in their missional activity. It was important that they combine the traits of both creatures in their witness given that they were being sent out as sheep among wolves. They would face severe danger and persecution for their witness to Christ: “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16; ESV). What do the images of … [Read more...]

Drive-By Evangelism & the Incarnation

Armed Ganster Shooting from Car

If you drive quickly through Luke 3, you might miss the significance of Jesus’ baptism (Luke 3:21) and genealogy (Luke 3:23-38) for his identity and mission. Jesus undergoes John’s baptism of repentance (See Mark 1:4) and Luke’s gospel makes a point of tracing Jesus’ lineage all the way back to Adam (whereas Matthew, given the author’s Jewish emphasis, traces it back to Abraham; see Matthew 1:1-17). The long and the short of it is that Jesus does not drop down to earth and do … [Read more...]

A Mother’s Day Tribute–Disarming Nuclear Families and Warheads of Hate with the Arrows of God’s Love

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I don't envy mothers, but I sure do respect them. They carry their children for months as they cope with nausea and kicks and then give birth to them, often in great pain. The pain does not end there for mothers, as they bear with the kicks and punches life brings their way through their children's decisions, sorrows, and losses. Of course, there are also the joys of holding their children close and watching them succeed in small and great ways as they grow up and develop. As with most other … [Read more...]

God Is Missional

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Mission is not extraneous to the triune God’s being and activity. It is central. God is missional, for it is bound up with God's communal being. Take for example the word "love." 1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love. Love is an active word. Love requires an object. I cannot be loving, if I have never loved another. It is not enough to love myself. The love of myself in isolation from another is not love, but a form of narcissism. Love of another requires that I go beyond myself. God always … [Read more...]

Happy Fifth Anniversary, Patheos! From Uncommon God, Common Good

Uncommon God, Common Good--Patheos

Happy Fifth Anniversary, Patheos!   I have decided to honor your fifth year anniversary by highlighting five key themes that I address at my blog, “Uncommon God, Common Good”.  1.     Trinitarian Thought: The title of my blog “Uncommon God, Common Good” and the picture that accompanies it (based upon Andrei Rublev’s icon of the Holy Trinity) seeks to capture my conviction that the Trinity is not the greatest problem or puzzle to solve, but that the Trinity is … [Read more...]

What Is the Church—A Faith-Based Emporium or Christ’s Kingdom Community?

Christ and Money

Perhaps you have seen the Simpsons episode titled “She of Little Faith.” Homer is responsible for accidentally burning down the church that he and his family attend. The church community sells their collective soul to the nuclear power plant owner (who is the devil in disguise) to refinance and rebuild the sanctuary. The result is a “faith-based emporium” with comfortable theater seating for religious consumers, a pulpit bearing a screen for advertisements, and a money-changing … [Read more...]


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