Nic At Night

The more discerning among them sensed something else was going on. Jesus spoke with authority but refused to take charge. He wielded extraordinary power, but never for himself. What was he up to?

Watch Nic at Night here

MOVING FORWARD

God loved. God gave. We believe. We receive. Does that sound too simple? If so, it’s because Jesus de es our expectations. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17).

WEEKLY READING

Spend some time this week reading and reflecting on Luke 20.

Angry Birds

Angry Birds – Sermon Video and Audio links from North Point Church in Atlanta

Wherever Jesus went, he was followed by tax collectors and sinners—all the worst people in his society. The marginalized, messed-up, and hated flocked to Jesus. People who were nothing like him, liked him. Imagine if, today, people like that flocked to the church. They should. If the church acted like Jesus, they would. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day complained that all these sinners were always around him. They assumed his proximity to these sinners meant that he condoned their sin. But Jesus never worried about being found guilty by association. Instead, he fully embodied God’s truth and God’s grace.

It’s among a crowd made up of both sinners and religious leaders that Jesus takes the opportunity to tell his most famous parable – The Prodigal Son. In the story, found in Luke 15, a man had two sons. One was a behavor; the other was a misbehavor. The misbehavor asks for his inheritance right away, as though his dad were already dead. The man gives his son the money. The young man sets off on his own and squanders the wealth that his father had worked for years to amass. Eventually, he found himself in dire straits. The only job he could find was tending to pigs. He even ate their slop. Humbled, the misbehaving son decided to return to his dad’s home and beg to be taken back— not as a son, but as a servant. Scripture tells us what happened next: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:20b–24)

Both the sinners and the Pharisees listening to Jesus understood the point he was making about God’s radical grace—that even when we insult and dishonor him in the worst way, he celebrates our return instead of meeting us with scorn and I-told-you-so’s. The Pharisees in the crowd responded the same way that the man’s behaving son did: with self-righteous resentment that his repentant brother wasn’t met with judgment. But the father in the story explains: “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” (Luke 15:31–32) Regardless of our sin, God could not love us more. Nothing we do can cause him to love us less.

 

When Gracie Met Truthy

Jesus calls his followers to love the way he loved. But as recorded in the Gospels, there’s a tension in the way he loved—it was messy, inconsistent, unfair, and confusing. At times, Jesus was harsh; at times, he was forgiving. At times, he pointed out sin; at times, he seemed to ignore it. Our temptation is to try to resolve the tension created around Jesus’ love. But if we try, we lose something important, something essential. The challenge for followers of Jesus is to love in the messy, inconsistent, unfair, and confusing way that he did—to hang onto the tension.

When Gracie Met Truthy – Sermon Video and Audio links from Northpoint Church in Atlanta

 

In Justice For All

We all want to rid the world of injustice. But we can only recognize injustice if we know what justice is to begin with. We don’t always agree about what is just. So, who gets to define justice?

Andy did a great job of unpacking this question in the next installment of Who Needs God? There are gads of additional resources available on the dedicated website for the series accessible at Who Needs God?

The message this week – In Justice For All

 

Gods of the No Testament 

Great discussion! This week’s sermon from Andy touched on something for almost everyone. It really hit home for the people who are stuck in the middle – between the unforgiving “rock” of a godless universe and the “hard place” of the unsettling, doubtful bits of Christianity.

Here’s the link:

Gods of the No Testament – Northpoint.org

Most of us have some false understandings about God because growing up we believed in:

1. A somebody told me so God

2. A Bible told me so Jesus

There are very few stories about Christian deconversion that begin with Christianity itself. When deconversion happens, it’s usually because we have abandoned one of the following versions of God that our religion has taught us:

1. Bodyguard god – A version of god who promises bad things don’t happen to good people. Let’s remember that Christianity started with a horrible thing happening to a really good Person! Plus the early church grew by the very same principle – it’s best people suffered terrible persecution.

2. On Demand god – A version of god who responds to fair and selfless requests the way we would.

3. Boyfriend god – A version of god that is based on the expectation that you will always sense His presence. But think about it…you are the least aware of the things that are the most constant! You don’t wake up in the morning and think, “I’m an American!” Or “I’m a student!” Yet if we are trusting in this God,  if we don’t feel His presence, we question whether or not He is present.

4. Guilt god – With this version of god, we are taught that if it’s enjoyable the answer is no. No, no,  no, no, NO. This god loves you but He doesn’t like you. We run from this God the quickest but he takes the longest to get away from.

5. Anti-science god – With this version of god we are forced to choose between undeniable science and unreliable religion I can’t continue to pretend or defend. We are told to quit thinking and just believe. However, God OR science is a false alternative. If we rely on science for our health why would we reject it in any other realm?

6. Gap god – This version of god conveniently shows up for everything that we can’t explain. The list of things we can explain is getting longer and the list of what we can’t explain shorter. Unexplainable things may be explainable tomorrow. We must pay attention to the frontiers of our ignorance. It’s not the unexplainable that points to God it’s the explainable. A predictable, stable, explainable universe is the greatest evidence for God that there is.

These gods don’t exist. If you’ve lost faith in these gods…good! They aren’t the accurate versions of God at all. They aren’t arguments for or against anything. They are ancient relics of childhood fantasies.

If your grown up questioning destroyed your childhood god, he may not have been the right one.

This is not an argument for the existence of God. This is simply the liberation of knowing that if you walked away from one of these gods, you may have left your faith unnecessarily.