Archive for the ‘Robert Capon’ Tag

Participation In The Coming Of Jesus Christ…!, part 6

ADVENT/EPIPHANY – All of Humanity Included In the Love and Life of the Whole God


In this 6th message of the Gospel series at New Life Fellowship of Baltimore, Maryland, entitled: “Participation in the Coming of Jesus Christ…!“, Pastor Tim continues to Proclaim the Good News of the God Revealed in Jesus! In particular he helps us see:

  • How the mix of Greek philosophy with Christianity has affected songs we write and sing about “G-O-D” (You’ll get a laugh out of one “hit” song and maybe understand your grandparents a little better! haha!)
  • How we might better understand the term “Son of Man” and what is being conveyed more meaningfully to us about the God Who is with and for us on our side!
  • The 4 “D’s” that represent ways we take part with Jesus RIGHT NOW in His coming that match up with Who God is, and who we are in Him in His Ministry of Good News as believers!

We laughed a lot, too! Check it out! 🙂

What’s the Point of all the Miracles in the Gospels?

Icon Jesus and Peter on the WaterI think this is an important question because we don’t see these sort of miracles taking place today. I know, some Christians would have you believe that we do, but let’s be honest – we don’t. Despite the best efforts of televangelists, sixth-hand stories in forwarded emails, and “you have to see this” posts on Facebook, we do not see people walking on water, rising from the dead, or having demons cast out of them as the Gospels (and the book of Acts) depict it.

There’s a longstanding tradition in Christianity, and this is reflected in the Gospel accounts themselves, that says the miracles that Jesus performed (and those performed in his name by the Apostles) were meant to prove Jesus’ Divine origin as the Son of God. That alone would be explanation enough for why these sorts of miracles no longer occur: having served their initial purpose in proving Jesus’ Divinity, they are no longer needed.

But we want them don’t we? When it’s our child who’s sick, when we are facing death, and when defeat seems to be overwhelming victory we long for God to step in with what Robert Capon has called “right-handed” power and prove to the whole world that he exists and that he is on our side. Instead, we see God acting with what Capon calls “left-handed” power. We see her working in littleness, lostness, and death.

Let me suggest another reason for the miracles of the gospels: what if – and this is just a “what if” – the miracle stories of the Gospels are meant to show us the general uselessness of miracles for the cause of growing the Kingdom.

Consider the arc of Jesus’ story for a moment: a miracle worker appears in Galilee, claiming a special relationship with God, and his miracles result in what? A mass conversion of the whole nation? A turn of the people away from darkness to light? Not exactly. Instead, he is rejected and crucified. The right-handed power of God is proven to have little to no effect in bringing people to trust God. Instead, it seems to be the opposite: the more God acts with power in Jesus the more people angrily reject him. Even Jesus makes this point in the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man when he says “. . . neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)

There’s something in our nature that says “if only God would show up with power; if only God would work a miracle, then I would believe and so would others and then we would be convinced that God really loves us.” It is this wishful thinking that sends so many Christians chasing after the miraculous in Facebook videos. But the Gospels themselves reveal that our thinking is more wishful than factual. The Gospels tell us that God did show up with power and did work miracles and all it did was freak us out and cause us to try to kill him.

Perhaps one reason for the miracles in the Gospels is to help us understand where and how we should be looking for the work of the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit: not in the flashy, powerful, and supernatural, but in the pain of our crucifixion, in the darkness of the tomb, and in the places at the margins of society where no one cares except the one who is Love.

~ Jonathan Stepp

P.S. There’s no need to post your personal miracle stories in the comments section. I too have experienced the inexplicable and been encouraged that the Father loves me in Jesus because of it. This post is about the kind of public events that we see in the Gospels.

Problem Child

“You see, no one really ever accepted me. Who’d be that caring, that loving?  Who’d be that dumb?” ~ Junior, “Problem Child”

As a fan of comedy movies from the 80s and 90s, I was quick to notice when the movie “Problem Child,” starring the late John Ritter, appeared on our channel guide.  For those who missed this film, the plot centers on Ben and Flo Healy, who both desperately want to have a child for different reasons.  Ben sees it as an opportunity for relationship, but Flo sees it as way to advance socially.  After finding out they are infertile, they decide to adopt.  At the same time, the nuns at the local orphanage are at their wits-end with a 7-year-old orphan named Junior.  Everyone who has ever adopted Junior always returned him – 31 times.  In an effort to placate the nuns, the adoption agency foists Junior on the unsuspecting Healys.  Of course, this makes for good physical comedy, whether Junior is terrorizing the cat, setting fire to his bedroom, or befriending a serial killer.

The best part about this movie, however, is the interaction between Ben Healy and Junior.  During the first night at the Healys, Junior tells Ben, “You’ll learn quick enough (what it’s like to be a dad).  Then you’ll get rid of me.”

Ben tells him, “We’re never going to get rid of you.  You’re here forever.  The two of us…we’re going to do everything together.”  Later in the movie, Ben is at his breaking point and for a moment, considers returning Junior to the orphanage.  Then he says the greatest line ever:  “What are we going to do with our little problem child?  Something that no one has ever done for him before.  We’re going to love him when he’s bad; we’re gonna love him even harder when he’s worse until one day, he’s gonna crack and say, ‘Hey, these folks really do love me. They ain’t gonna quit on me.'”

We are all problem children, beset with the disease of sin.  Sin is not so much about bad behavior or wrong actions, as it is a willful trusting of ourselves and our own recounting of our stories.  Instead of trying to earn righteousness on our own, we should be seeing the Father, Son, and Spirit for who they are, trusting in how they re-tell each of our stories, mistakes and all.

Author Robert Capon talks about this “retelling” of our individual stories in his book, The Fingerprints of God.  He calls it “recapitulation,” and defines it as the eternal Son re-speaking our sins as all right to the Father:

“We go to our final home with our sins, not without them, for the simple reason that every moment of our history is held in him.  If that home is heaven, we’ll get there because our sins are held as no problem in his gracious recounting of them, not because we’ve gotten rid of them.  And if that home happens to be hell, it will be not because we’ve failed to get our sins out of our history but because we’ve refused to trust his recounting of them and insisted on trusting only our old way of adding them up.  Both heaven and hell, you see, are populated only and entirely by forgiven sinners.  The difference between those two conditions is faith or unfaith in Christ’s recapitulation of all things…” (44).

In the movie, Junior never becomes a good kid.  In fact, two more sequels were made, each one expounding on his unlimited ability to get into trouble.  But the one thing that never wavers is his adopted dad’s love for him.  Ben Healy is no longer oblivious to Junior’s proclivity toward mischief, but he accepts him, loves him, and bails him out of all the messes he creates.  He “retells” Junior’s story, not erasing Junior’s sins, but showing him, through love, that he is much more than all the trouble he makes.

One day, we’re gonna crack and say, “Hey, the Father, Son, and Spirit really do love me.   They ain’t gonna quit on me.”  The Triune God, aware of our tendency to sin, accepts us, loves us, and retells our story so that it is a cause for celebration.  In our retold story, they say, “We’re never going to get rid of you.  You’re here forever…(and) we’re going to do everything together.”

~by Nan Kuhlman

%d bloggers like this: