Saturday, December 14, 2013

2013 New Testament Challenge – Day 30 (Catch Up!)

Every year I participate in a special effort called the New Testament Challenge sponsored by a priest of the Orthodox Church in America. He encourages Christians to spend the Christmas Fast, also known as Advent) reading the entire New Testament as a preparation for Christmas. Each year I have done this, it has been blessing to me and I pray this year will be no different. As part of the New Testament Challenge, I endeavor to blog a bit about the reading for that particular day. I may miss a few, but I pray for those who follow this blog (NOW ALSO ON FACEBOOK) it will be a blessing.

Well, I fell into the trap of getting busy. By way of confession, I haven’t been at my desk more than a couple hours this past week. So today, I’m using the “Catch Up” option for the Challenge. I will however endeavor to say a few things about each Challenge section.

Day 22 – 1 Corinthians 1-11
The Corinthians must have been a tough bunch, because Saint Paul continually urges them to leave their old lifestyle behind.  I suppose this can be comforting for us today – that we aren’t the only ones struggling to leave the worldly life behind – but one point I think stood out for today, especially considering all the so-called culture war talk as of late:
I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner -- not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person." (1 Corinthians 5.9-13)
With the recent publicity of a court case in Colorado, which forced a baker to make a wedding cake against his will for a same-sex wedding reception, these words by Saint Paul touched me. Saint Paul (and Christ for that matter) wants us to focus on OUR life and the life of OUR Church, rather than ‘Bible thumping’ our fellow citizens.

Day 25 – 1 Corinthians 12- 2 Corinthians
The Holy Scriptures can be confusing. The Old Testament, without the ‘point of view’ of the Risen Christ cannot be fully understood. Likewise, the New Testament, until the return of Christ, cannot be fully understood if we depend upon human logic. Saint Paul said,
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4.1-6)
It’s time to allow the Light of Christ to shine upon your reading the Holy Scriptures and leave worldly wisdom behind to embrace Godly wisdom.
For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end (as also you have understood us in part), that we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus. (2 Corinthians 1.12-13)

Until tomorrow…..I’ve more to catch up tomorrow….

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