“Ron! Why do you write about such serious stuff? Just remind us that Jesus loves us no matter what and then tell a cute story or write something funny!” Indeed, my topics are often serious or deep. Why? I sometimes address a specific need or balance our lopsided Christianity that usually tells only half the story. Yes, Jesus loves us no matter what we’ve done or where we are. But we’re not meant to stay there! According to King Solomon, there’s nothing new under the sun. And the need to respond to current issues or provide guidance dates to the earliest days of the New Covenant.
New Testament (Covenant) letter writers usually addressed a particular audience to inform or solve a problem. They would often provide balance in a Christianity warped by heresies or immoralities of the day. Take Paul, for instance. He wrote to the Church in Rome to steer a predominantly Jewish congregation from focusing on religious format or works. Sure, God had predestined the nation of Israel to carry out His plan of salvation (Romans 8:18-30 – similarly, see Ephesians 1:4-6, 11). Its people—especially those who entered the Christian faith—probably felt special and believed that adherence to the Jewish religious Law was still necessary for the New Covenant. However, a focus on works negated the unmerited gift of life offered through Jesus.
The Corinthian Church was another recipient of Paul’s written guidance and correction. These believers, mostly Greek, often engaged in things like sexual immoralities (e.g., 1Corinthians 5:1-13 and 6:12-20). Many filed lawsuits against each other. Still, others practiced gluttony and self-centeredness and rebelled against customs like how women should respond in church or keep their hair. Why did he write against violating local traditions? Because the violations caused problems in the culture and could make God’s Kingdom unattractive to the locals. Paul’s letters addressed those issues (and more) to correct bad behavior and provide a clearer view of a righteous walk of faith. What about today?
We still misbehave toward one another, abuse our bodies, and neglect spiritual formation believing all the while, selfishly, that God has a unique plan for each of us and that He works all things for our personal good. The practices are unrighteous, and the beliefs are gross misunderstandings of Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28 taken out of context. Yes, God Has a plan and has invited us to join Him in it, but it’s His plan for all, not personal spiritual elevation.
So, I write to you to offer balance and guidance and partner with you to practice your faith according to God’s good pleasure. I promise to lighten it up where I can! What’s next? Let’s learn how not to be aggressive—even passively aggressive—in “Vengeance is God’s, not ours—even in church!”
Blessings and peace,
Dr. Ron Braley