Christus Iesus Venit

We don’t think of it as a Christmas verse, but 1 Timothy 1:15 speaks specifically to the reason for Jesus’ coming. Paul writes, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners– of whom I am the worst.” Usually spoken with humorist caveats, such as: ‘I always wanted to be a Chief,” this verse tells us why it was necessary that Jesus leave the comfort of his home – to save us. The implication is that our circumstances were dire enough to warrant nothing less than a rescue.

When we consider the Nativity, we think of the teenage mother, the faithful husband, the adoring shepherds and wise men. We also think of the vulnerability and meekness of the Son of Man who made his appearance to us as a babe. That baby, born in a stable, inconvenienced by an oppressive government had no power to defend, provide, self-determine. Jesus’ helplessness in the Nativity is mirrored in the helplessness of those he came to save.

For Paul, one never grows out of meekness. He tells us, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the chief.” Paul was saying that he still was a sinner who needed rescuing in spite of Jesus have already come. We too are to follow Paul’s model. I am still a sinner who needs saving. Herein is the disarming power that the true Christian brings to the consumerist celebration that has become Christmas.

The reality is that we are in over our heads. We’re not merely in need of a renovation, but rather, we are in need of transformation. Again, though, we do not have what is necessary to make ourselves safe. We do not have the power.

Welsh pastor, Martin Lloyd-Jones, recognized the trouble facing the church when he preached a series of sermons in recognition of the revival work God had done in Wales 100 years previously. In preaching on Mark 8 and the failure of the disciples to save a young boy from his demon possession, Lloyd Jones comments as if Jesus is answering the disciples question as to why they could not cast the demon out,

“You have not sufficient power. I did what you could not do because I have power, because I am filled with the power that God gives me by the Holy Spirit, for he gives not the spirit by measure unto me. You will never be able to deal with ‘this kind’ unless you have applied to God for the power which he alone can give you. You must become aware of your need, of your impotence, of your helplessness. you must realize that you are confronted by something that is too deep for your methods to get rid of, or to deal with, and you need something that can go down beneath that evil power and shatter it, and there is only one thing that can do that, and that is the power of God.” (Matin Lloyd-Jones, “The Urgent Need for Revival Today” in Revival).

As you celebrate Advent, as you get more an more desperate that you’ll never be able to live up the other’s expectations (and your own), remember that the problems which you face are ultimately too deep for you to get out on your own means. What is needed is rescue from above, salvation from a such a one as Jesus, who came to save sinners.

All content copyright, unless noted otherwise, Randy Edwards, 2001-2006. All rights reserved.

Burden Bearing

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.”

Galatians 6:1-5

When Paul speaks in Galatians 6 about bearing one another’s burdens, I don’t think he means for our burden bearing on a friend’s behalf to be that as a comforter. Granted, much comfort is extended when we stand shoulder to shoulder with a friend and offer consolation in their struggle. However, in Galatians, I think that what Paul means is that we are to carry the weight of what it costs us to continue in relationship with the one “who is caught in sin.”

To be in relationship with a sinner costs. Sinners are rude, intemperate, self-seeking, deceptive, and callous. To move into the world of a sinner is unsafe. Paul warns us that as we seek the gentle restoration of our brother, we should take care. Paul’s warning of carefulness is not so much because of the sinner’s danger to us, but of our danger to ourselves. Why? We too, are sinners.

“Watch yourself,” Paul says so that we be careful not to think that we are any better than they. As we move into another’s life, we are warned to test our own motives, thoughts, and judgments lest we too should fall. Being watchful of our own heart and apprehending the mercy extended to us in Christ, we, who are spiritual, restore. In the process of restoration, we “take the hit” for the knowledge of their sin, stubbornness, and insensitivity. “Taking the hit” — that is fulfilling the “law of Christ” — laying down one’s life for another

Paul, in speaking of our burdens and the burdens of those who obey in faith, says that each one is to “carry his own load.” Paul is saying, “Christian, it is good for you to take responsibility for your own actions, and it is good for you to bear with one another the consequences of their actions.” This means that the call to ministry, humility, and service is to every Christian not merely the strong or spiritually successful. Every Christian can be as Christ, each can humble themselves, can test their motives, and can rely on Christ.

The danger in our carrying for those “caught in sin” is that we think because we didn’t get caught that there is no cost for us to be a Christian. When we forget the burden that Jesus bore, we become harsh, judgmental, and proud. We forget the cross. Jesus said the night before his crucifixion, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13);” this is the spirit of true burden bearing friendship.

All content copyright, unless noted otherwise, Randy Edwards, 2001-2006. All rights reserved.

Saturday Morning Ride Begins

Saturday Morning Rides began this past week with four brave souls who had to stumble around in the predawn dark to find the previously packed away leg tights, arm warmers, and jackets — 45 degrees, Wow. Those of you who missed it, we know who you are and will be coming to get you next time.

Several riders will be riding in the Tour de Pig (see previous post) on Saturday the 7th. Pre-ride Pasta Load, Peleton Putsch, and Movie Night is scheduled for the evening of the 6th at Maison du Chez Gregoire. If any are not riding in the Tour and would like to either ride Saturday morning or just go cheer on the riders, let me know.

Spokes Against Strokes

Cycle for Life
Spokes Against Strokes Cycle for Life will be held on Saturday, October 14, 2006. The ride begins from Hanover Park Vineyard in Yadkinville. Click the picture and the link will take you to the downloadable registration form.

Tour de Pig

Well some are gearing up for that desperate ride through Davidson County. There’s even talk of a Pasta Feed/Breaking Away movie evening the night before. (Go Cutters!) If you’re interested drop me note, and I’ll get it to the appropriate parties. Team Cinzano members need not apply. The Tour de Pig is on October 7 and starts at Davidson Community College.

The picture links to the event’s registration .pdf file. I wonder if Greg Wilson will be there?