Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Gospel and Disagreement

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12
These might not be the best examples but the reason I post them is because I was thinking about this idea earlier tonight when talking with a brother and welcoming any disagreement he might have about something I had just said.

Although I find the content of these conversations interesting, I found myself much more interested in the way the conversations unfolded than I was in the content of the conversations themselves.

When the gospel of grace brings us from our hiding place behind trees into true reconciliation with each other in Christ, that doesn't mean that we are going to agree about everything. Not even close. As long as we're waiting for Jesus to come back, we all see through a glass dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12). And when one dim perspective of Jesus meets with another dim perspective of Jesus, at some point disagreement is inevitable.

But the glory of the gospel is that it's not our agreement about everything that unites us. It's Jesus Christ alone, who He is and what He's done, that unites us. As long as we agree on that, there's a sense in which nothing else really matters. We can disagree about anything else.

The gospel frees us to disagree because we don't have to justify ourselves by being especially defensive or trying to prove that we're right. Jesus is our justification. He was always right in His living and speaking. We don't have to tiptoe on the thin ice of shared opinion because we're afraid of a disagreement that might damage our fellowship. We stand on a Rock. Christ is unbreakable. And the mystery of the gospel is that when we disagree it's an opportunity for our gospel fellowship to be dug down deeper and for Christ's glory to shine all the more brightly.

So don't be afraid to disagree. If you are, it's probably a sign that you're not believing the gospel and are still hiding behind trees.

Have you already forgotten? You've been clothed with Christ (Philippians 3:9). You're no longer naked. You can come out from hiding.

And, after all, what a boring world we would live in and where we would lose so many opportunities to learn and grow if disagreement never happened.

Thank you, Father, for these diligent and seasoned laborers who so faithfully guard and proclaim the gospel of grace not just in their pulpits and with their pens and with the content of conversations like these, but with the in-between moments of their lives and with the nature of conversations like these. Help us to imitate them and so live in light of the gospel more and more with each day that passes. For Jesus' sake, Amen.

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Spurgeon of Africa

Or so he's called.

Conrad Mbewe on his life and conversion. It's kind of eerie how much of his testimony I can identify with: carefully choosing his words to say that he grew up in a "church-going" family, wrestling with prideful ambition in the call to preach (he's far more humble than I have been), college campus ministry, being part of his local church's planting efforts before becoming a pastor, the lengthy delay between his call to ministry and the fulfillment of that call, and the very request of asking God to "open the door and I'll walk through" (I prayed this almost verbatim the night when I sensed God calling me to Kenya just over three years ago).

And then on African Evangelicalism and Nigerian Junk.

And his sermon from the recent Gospel Coalition conference in April:

So what do you think? Do you see any resemblance?

HT: Gospel Coalition Blog

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

He Was Delighted to Be a Doorkeeper

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
Psalm 84:10
The value which he set upon the sanctuary is presented in a very striking light by the comparison, that he would prefer having a place at the very doors of the temple, to his having full possession of the tents of wickedness, the plain import of which is, that he would rather be cast into a common and unhonoured place, provided he were among the people of God, than exalted to the highest rank of honor among unbelievers. A rare example of godliness indeed! Many are to be found who desire to occupy a place in the Church, but such is the sway which ambition has over the minds of men, that very few are content to continue among the number of the common and undistinguished class. Almost all are carried away with the frantic desire of rising to distinction, and can never think of being at ease until they have attained to some station of eminence.

--John Calvin, Commentary on Psalm 84:10
I'm rebuked by these words.