Living your Faith

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Posted 9/12/13 at 9:34 AM | Jeremy Kee

God is Unfair

A discussion broke out the other night in class as to whether or not God is unfair and, if He is, how that can be reconciled with the belief that God is good. The thesis was that if God is good then His actions must be fair, yet we seem many times over the in Scriptures that He often acts in ways we would easily and without second thought consider to be unfair. How can this be?

The discussion centered on His treatment of Cain and Abel. As the story goes, God regarded Abel (a sheppard) over Cain (a farmer). In the story, the two brothers bring to God an offering from each of their fields. Abel offers, “the firstborn of his flock”, while Cain brings “fruits of the ground.” God favored the offering of Abel over Cain and, a few verses later, Cain leads Abel into a field and murders his brother.

From this story the discussion on the fairness of God was born. The popular thought was that God arbitrarily chose Abel’s offering over Cain’s. Perhaps God even set the two brothers up so that Abel was favored over Cain. There is a long and documented history of God “favoring” the younger brother over the older, which is precisely what is represented here. So, does God choose favorites or is there a basis for his favor? FULL POST

Posted 9/4/13 at 10:04 AM | Jeremy Kee

Just War Theory: A Primer

The Syrian Civil War is an undeniable horror, the likes of which we only rarely in this world see, though such conflicts in recent years have been on the rise around the globe. The rhetoric coming from Washington would suggest that the U.S. is now on the verge of military intervention in said civil war, despite it being in its 30th month. The catalyst for our increasingly likely intervention is the recent use of chemical weapons against the civilian population, which resulted in the death of 1,400 Syrians. This, the administration cites, is the proverbial “Red Line”, the crossing of which necessitates international military action aimed at bringing this war to an end or, at the very least, a ceasefire for negotiations.

This episode brings to light the same questions associated with any military involvement, namely, “Is the conflict just?” Does the U.S. have the legal or moral imperative to act when our country is not directly threatened? Fortunate for us, we have the advantage of more than 1,000 years of wisdom and scholarship to draw from in reaching an understanding on the matter. In particular, we may look to St(s). Augustine and Aquinas, among other intellectual greats, and the Theory of Just War. Just War Theory (JWT) is a series of precepts by which states and individual actors may determine whether the use of force is just or not. It is through the lens of these precepts as laid out by theologian Glen Stassen in his book Kingdom Ethics that we will look at the issues and justifications employed. FULL POST

Posted 8/26/13 at 10:45 AM | Jeremy Kee

I Am the Worst

The other night, after having built up a lot of unexpected positive energy, I decided to go for a late night drive. It was not too far into said drive that, for whatever reason, I began to reflect on 1st Timothy 1.15-16, which reads:

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example of those who were to believe in him for eternal life.”

In this passage, Saint Paul declares himself the foremost of sinners, popped into my head. It has always been a fascinating notion to me, to regard one’s own sins and shortcomings as the worst.

I began to wonder: what if more Christians viewed their own sin as worse than that of their neighbors? What if every Sunday morning, as we congregate in our respective houses of worship, we felt within our souls that of the tens, hundreds, or thousands in around us we were the worst? What would this mean for our day-to-day interactions with our neighbors? What would this mean in our day-to-day interactions with our own thoughts and actions? What would this mean, most importantly, for our day-to-day interactions with God? FULL POST

Posted 8/19/13 at 9:12 AM | Jeremy Kee

Friend of God

From time to time I am struck by how many of my favorite Bible verses, stories, and characters are found in the Old Testament. Jesus tops them all with the greatest of ease, of course, and not only because as a Christian I am supposed to say that, but also because it is true. The physical embodiment of the Holy Spirit, God made flesh, is the culmination of all my Old Testament favorites. Everything points to Him.

I have since my sophomore year of college been drawn in particular to Abraham. He has always been, at least to me, the benchmark of faith for we who are imperfect. Abraham was not a man without fault, but he was a man of faith, and by his faith was he justified. Think about some of his acts of faith:

  1. God told him to go to a land that He would show to him, and Abraham went, along with all those who would accompany him (Gen 12.1-9);
  2. God promised Abraham and his wife, Sarah, that they would have a child of their own, even in Sarah's old age and barren state (Gen. 17.15-21); One year later, Abraham’s son, Isaac, was born (Gen 21.1-5);
  3. (My personal favorite) God told Abraham to take Isaac and to offer him as a sacrifice. Abraham obeyed by taking Isaac up Mount Moriah, tying him to a makeshift altar, and lifting the knife. Only in the down-thrust was he stopped by The Angel of the Lord. His faith had once again been proven (Gen 22);

In the life of Abraham, we see the agony of faith. So often, God asked him to do things that most of us would scoff at, if not refuse outright. Who amongst us would actually go through with sacrificing a loved one if we truly heard God tell us to do so? Yet we see Abraham do precisely this, for he was faithful in the providence of Almighty God. FULL POST

Posted 8/8/13 at 10:48 AM | Jeremy Kee |

1 comment

The Answer to the Millennial Question: BE A CHURCH

Much has been written on the so-called “Millennial Generation” and their impact and concurrent exodus on and from the church. This generation, of which I am apart, represents a stark change from generations past. Poll after poll, and all related research shows that we millennials want a church that stands for the truths it has taught for so long – radical love for our neighbor, service to a power greater than ourselves, a sense of tradition and orthodoxy, and living simply and humbly. In essence, the millennial generation is looking not for a church, but rather for the Church.

Attempting to maintain relevance with upcoming generations, many churches today either water down those elements of the Gospels which they think non-believers interested in the faith will find offensive, thus taking away the power of the Good News, or else they give their youth and young adult groups the proverbial facelift, introducing elements of pop culture such as flashy worship bands, and “fellowship” activities that are at best agnostic. The idea seems to be that as long as they are “in” the church, all is well.

It is not enough to be in the church. To be transformed by the power of Christ, one must be both in and of the Church. It is not enough for millennials, or anyone for that matter, to simply attend church service every Sunday. That is vanity. One must be involved in the body of believers that makes up the Church founded by Jesus Christ. FULL POST

Posted 7/9/13 at 11:22 AM | Jeremy Kee |

4 comments

Who, Then, Is Good?

This was originally meant to be the second half of a piece I posted yesterday, but decided to post the two independent of one another.

Someone remarked to me that “it [pro-life vs. pro-choice] is a fight of good vs. evil,” but I am hesitant to agree. Why? Simply put, we are all evil. We read in scripture “… there is no one on earth who is righteous”. To violate God’s will is sin, and sin is evil. If sin is evil, and if we are all sinners, then we all own a share of the evil in the world. Some among us may be more proactive in exorcising the sin from our lives, but at the end of the day we are all part of the fallen human race, desperate for salvation from ourselves and starving for the mercy offered only through the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

This is not to say, of course, that man is not capable of good, or that all the works of his hands are evil. Not at all! Man is made in the image of God, and God is absolute good, so however depraved man may become there will always be an imprint of the Creator upon his soul. Just as man is capable of recognizing good and evil, so too is he equally capable of performing both good and evil. FULL POST

Posted 7/8/13 at 1:48 PM | Jeremy Kee

Morality vs. Choice

Photo: Flickr/Pro-Life Waco - Creative Commons
Abortion supporters in Texas

Deep in the heart of Texas, there is a little spat going on between the pro-life and pro-choice camps. I have attended several of the rallies held this week, and can bear witness first hand to the awful things you hear being all too true.

That this is so quickly becoming a defining issue of our age – whether or not it should be easy, or even legal, to abort the unborn – is heartbreaking, yet this is only its surface appearance. The real issue runs much deeper. It is not simply pro-life against pro-choice. Rather, it is morality vs. amorality or, if you prefer, traditional morality vs. the morality of me. Allow me to explain.

In our time, we have long seen a shift from traditional morality - the foundation upon which has stood the social, spiritual, and legal conventions so long been held as just and true - to a morality of the individual, based purely on choice. It is a morality of me – what do I want? What is best for ME? In this new morality, there is no morality, because the “morals” are determined by the individual. Our former, antiquated ideas of right and wrong have blown away like dry grass on a summer’s day (or so we are told). The morality of the individual, which places absolute importance on one’s choice, represents a new age of enlightenment to those who subscribe to such moral bearings. FULL POST

Posted 7/2/13 at 7:03 AM | Jeremy Kee

Christ and the Sins of Others

This article is inspired by a comment left on a previous article. Please refer back to said comment for clarification.

Why did Christ come to live among us? He is the perfect Son of the Most High and Holy God. Why, then, would He want to live and walk and breath among us sinners? As it is written,

For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but in order to save the world through Him. - John 3.16-7 (ESV)

God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live among us in order that we may be reconciled with God and be offered eternal life. Christ came as a sacriice for our sins. He is not responsible for our sins, but He came, lived, died, and was resurrected for exactly that reason. Only in so doing could we ever experience salvation.

What does any of this matter? Christ came to live among us and because He did, and because we believe, we are saved. The story ends there, doesn't it? Not at all! Lest we forget, we are called to be like Christ. There is no room in this call for selective adherence to His word; it is all or nothing. Of course, no one is perfect, and because of this we will never be able to fully abide by His word. We may try, but we will always get something wrong. That is our sinful nature. FULL POST

Posted 6/27/13 at 1:17 PM | Jeremy Kee |

2 comments

When We Sent God Packing

The farther a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.” – George Orwell.

What happens when God is told to hit the bricks? When man succumbs to his own sin and chooses to walk in step with the world rather than resist its awful temptations, where does that leave God ahd His faithful? The good news – in so many ways – is that God is always there. Immanuel, "God with us." The world may tell God to leave it alone, but God will never leave them. He will never leave us. A good father always sticks around through the good and the bad, through loyalty and rebellion.

The Lord’s Prayer, the Holy Christ’s answer to the disciple’s inquiry of how they should pray starts with “Our Father, who art in Heaven…” Christ does not say, “My Father,” or “Your Father”, or even “Holy Father”. He says, “Our Father,” because God is for all of us. Elsewhere in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, God is described as our strength, our fortress, our refuge, our strong tower, our salvation, our deliverer, and on and on and on. God is for us! Just as the rain falls on sinner and saint alike, so too does God’s love and grace and mercy fall like rain upon each of us. Some of us may choose to step out of the rain, but the rain continues and there is nothing we can do to stop it. FULL POST

Posted 6/24/13 at 7:07 AM | Jeremy Kee

... But Rather Division

President Obama recently made comments while in Northern Ireland that have incensed the passions of Christians worldwide. Obama – in his never-ending quest to establish relativism and political-correctness as the pervading philosophies of the land – decided to charge the Protestant and more pointedly the Catholic schools of Northern Ireland as being a leading cause for the division still experienced in that part of the world.

What Mr. Obama does not seem to grasp, or perhaps what he understands and just flatly disagrees with, is that Christianity is not meant to be a feel-good, anything goes, kumbaya religion. Anyone familiar with the life of Christ knows that He was a most divisive person. What’s more, rather than hide from this reputation He was developing, He took total responsibility for it. Christ says in Luke 12, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”

He goes on to say that He will cause mother to turn against daughter, father against son, and all manner of other division. Critics charge that a God who takes the mantle of love upon Himself surely would not come to earth to create division. Actually, yes, He would (and don’t call me… well, never mind). Christ came to create division, because Christ is everything the world is not. The world seeks power, wealth, status, and creature comforts. Christ tells us to deny all these things – to deny ourselves – and to follow Him only. FULL POST