Was our solar eclipse a “sign”?

Amid this week’s excitement surrounding one of the clearest solar eclipses in recent history, questions surfaced in many people’s hearts: “Is this a sign? Is this the fulfillment of some ancient Biblical prophecy? Is this more than a natural phenomenon—is this a harbinger of apocalyptic consequence?”

Not everyone asked these questions of course. Some people never even considered whether there was anything more happening than an object momentarily impeding our view of the sun. Others would find these questions laughable. However, questions like these are actually quite reasonable since human civilizations have always tried to prophetically interpret the movements of the heavens, and since many Bible prophecies are packed with predictions of astrological signs that arise at the end of time.

So what was it? Was the eclipse a beautiful natural phenomenon or a cosmic message in the sky? Regardless of how one answers those questions, I have three thoughts on how we can process moment like this week’s solar eclipse.

First, we should enjoy it! At the simplest level, we just experienced one of the most amazing astronomical movements of our generation. These moments should be lived, appreciated, and enjoyed!

Second, we should let our gaze linger upwards. Natural moments like these remind us of the vastness of our universe and give us a renewed opportunity to marvel at the intricacy, mystery, and beauty of our home on planet earth. In addition to the fun and excitement that these moments create, they also move us to worship as we consider the source behind our creation.

Finally, we should appreciate the Bible scholars and curious students who are re-reading biblical prophecy and their popular commentary books. Natural phenomena of this nature are always great opportunities to review the words of Scripture and to be reminded that we are more than flickering motes in an endless universe—we are a part of God’s plan for human history and we have work to do as long as time exists.

In every generation since Jesus’ ministry on earth people have viewed themselves as the terminal generation—the final generation before the return of Christ. I think that good can come from this belief. On a purely biological level we are terminal, and this awareness can drive us toward lives of greater weight and consequence; we want our remaining time to count! And on a theological level, the day will come when one of these generations is right. Jesus did promise to return, there will be a terminal generation, and until He does, there are people to love, causes to advance, and a beautiful king to serve. Let’s do this well. Let’s live faithful, Christ-oriented lives that positively affect people in our generation and in generations to come.

Advertisements

America’s original sin (a thought on Charlottesville)

The extremism of blatantly white supremacist, neo-Nazi activity, such as occurred this past week in Charlottesville, can potentially lull people into thinking that it is just that—blatantly extreme activity that does not reflect the normal state of affairs in America.

Granted, the extreme fringe is never an accurate representation of the whole, but the mere presence of radical extremism (in any group or ideology) should give us pause to consider why it exists at all.

The horrific expressions of white supremacy in America do NOT express the heart of America as a whole but it IS an existing strain of America’s original sin. America was not a purely Christian nation in all of its origins. Certainly there were some who wanted it to be so, and who sought to establish a people and a government upon noble virtues that would liberate and lift the conditions of all of mankind, but from its inception there were threads of deep sin in our country.

In 1620 the pilgrims who sailed to Plymouth Rock to build a hope-filled New World signed the Mayflower Compact, a veritable covenant with God to establish a nation that would reflect His heart, character, and love for the world. However at the exact same time that seeds of righteousness were being sown through the Mayflower Compact, African slavery was being introduced through the colony at Jamestown.

America’s history is very reflective of Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares, wherein both good and evil seeds were sown together. Historical revisionists who want to eliminate the truly Christian thread in our country’s founding are wrong—good, Christ-honoring seed was undeniably sown into the foundation of our country. However, Christian historians who want to position America as a purely Christian light on a hill for the world are also wrong—seeds of racism, oppression, and slavery were built into our country from its inception. Indeed, slavery existed in our country for one hundred fifty years before our Declaration of Independence was drafted, proclaiming the inalienable rights of all mankind. Slavery continued to exist for nearly one hundred years after our Declaration went into effect.

All of this is to say that when racist tragedies occur like they did in Charlottesville we must do more than plead ignorance, stating that, “I’m not racist and I would never condone prejudiced ideology”; we must repent. Our nation still bears the stain of our original sins, and someone—namely the person who claims allegiance to Jesus Christ—must repent and renounce that sin and work tirelessly at embracing, modeling, and proclaiming a better way to live.

Renouncing the tares, tending the wheat, and modeling the values and virtues of a higher kingdom—this is the calling, life, and mission of true followers of Jesus Christ. Let’s live our calling and be a healing force in our world.

Nemesis

In Greek mythology Nemesis was the retribution goddess that brought justice and consequence against those who yielded to pride or exploitation. Her name literally meant, “to give what is due” and she ensured that people got what they deserved.

She was portrayed as a winged goddess with a whip and dagger, the perfect equipment for tracking people down and disciplining them severely.

In our day and age it can often seem like justice is forever postponed or delayed. We know that Nemesis is a myth, but we long for the reality that the myth proclaimed. Why does evil seem so entrenched? Why does injustice so often rule the day? When will oppressors get what they deserve?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us that this would not always be so. Indeed, he said, “Evil carries the seed of its own destruction”[1] and it’s true. History is replete with the accounts of oppressive empires that flourished for a season and then sunk into ruins. Today, tourists take pictures of those ancient remains.

Evil will not prevail. Human suffering and exploitation will not get the final word. God is just and the Scriptures remind us that a day is coming when “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).

Until that day, we have the honor of extending God’s love and justice to our spheres of influence. We get to see the incremental advance of goodness, kindness, and faith, knowing that someday, like Pharaoh’s army on the seashore, the forces of injustice will be fully and forever swept away. Let’s carry on as unflagging ambassadors of God’s faith, hope, and love.

[1] Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love, Philadelphia: Fortress Press: 1963, p.83.

A moral obligation to be intelligent

Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing…” (Luke 23:34)

In his book Strength to Love Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us that it was not merely sin that nailed Jesus to the cross; it was also ignorance. “The men who cried, ‘Crucify him,’ were not bad men but rather blind men. The jeering mob that lined the roadside that led to Calvary was not composed of evil people but of blind people. They knew not what they did. What a tragedy!”[1]

History is replete with accounts of men and women who engaged in woeful behavior based largely in either ignorance or misunderstanding. Mankind’s historical inquisitions and persecutions had strains of ignorance and intellectual blindness running through them that made their outcomes doubly tragic: they were evil, yes, but they were also uninformed. Misunderstandings of science, racial equality, mental illnesses, and many other things have led to oppression, enslavement, and misguided notions that have traumatized the human race.

We are called to be better. I think we should ponder these words from Dr. King and consider where they might apply to our perspectives and our engagement with the world: “Sincerity and conscientiousness in themselves are not enough. History has proven that these noble virtues may degenerate into tragic vices. Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. The church must implore men to be good and well-intentioned. But devoid of intelligence, goodness and conscientiousness will become brutal forces leading to shameful crucifixions. Never must the church tire of reminding men that they have a moral responsibility to be intelligent.”[2]

Let’s commit today to redoubling our efforts at being good, just, conscientious, and intelligent.

[1] Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., The Strength to Love, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1963), p. 43.

[2] Ibid., 46.

Amber’s Novella is now available! :)

Amber and I just finished our novella, I Am She, and Amber did an awesome job with it!! She is a fantastic writer, and we had a blast collaborating on our first book. As a novella (about 115 pages), this book can be read in just a couple of hours and I think you will love it—it’s a perfect summer, beach read. You can check it out in both print and digital formats on Amazon here. I’ve also included a picture of the back cover and description below as well.

Let me know what you think! 🙂