unitive

Comments (View)

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. || 1 John 1:5

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. || 1 John 4:8

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. || 1 John 3:16

Oh God, Thou art lightning and love. || Gerard Manley Hopkins

(Source: theunitive.com)


Comments (View)

Comments (View)

I’m thinking about going to the gym to work out next week … but I’m not looking forward to it. In addition to my general dislike of treadmills and nautilus equipment (have you ever tried to lift weights? They are really heavy!) I’m anticipating a crowded facility. It’s the annual influx of fitness hopefuls. I call them the “same old resolutionists” … and most years I’m one of them.
This is what we do. At this time of year we make promises to … whomever: ourselves, God, the gods, that special someone who might enter our life this year! I don’t have any research to back it up but I’m pretty sure most New Year’s resolutions have something to do with improving ourselves. (read more) View Larger

I’m thinking about going to the gym to work out next week … but I’m not looking forward to it. In addition to my general dislike of treadmills and nautilus equipment (have you ever tried to lift weights? They are really heavy!) I’m anticipating a crowded facility. It’s the annual influx of fitness hopefuls. I call them the “same old resolutionists” … and most years I’m one of them.

This is what we do. At this time of year we make promises to … whomever: ourselves, God, the gods, that special someone who might enter our life this year! I don’t have any research to back it up but I’m pretty sure most New Year’s resolutions have something to do with improving ourselves. (read more)


Comments (View)

Comments (View)

Comments (View)

The theologian Christoph Blumhardt said every Christian is called to be converted two times.  Blumhardt believed that we are first converted to Christianity, from the world to God, but must be converted again, back to the world. When I first heard Blumhardt’s suggestion, I was reminded of the conversion experience where someone steps into relationship with God for the first time, and then comes clean from the world by throwing out “secular” music, cleaning up their language, and even sometimes finding a whole new group of friends, just so they can reorient themselves as a Christian.But if that’s turning to God, what does being converted back into the world entail?  What does that look like? Some might say that it’s when you start to initiate friendships with people who aren’t Christians by relating a bit more.  Maybe you listen to secular music again.  Maybe even just a cuss or two every now-and-again or a drink or two, just to let everyone know you’re not one of those “uptight Christians.”  That just doesn’t ring true to me.  It strikes me as being too much of an escape from life as a Christian.  And I don’t think that’s what Blumhardt had in mind either. It has more to do with what our driving force is.
When we first turn toward God in conversion it’s a beautiful example of love and of worship as we become fully oriented toward him.  Why shouldn’t we stay there?  Because that’s not where God is fully oriented.  Because God’s love is also oriented toward the world, so our love follows.  God’s love in us must be the driving force to the people around us.  It puts us back in the world.  The point isn’t if we listen to Mumford & Sons or not.  We must know that it’s God’s love in us that drives us, not to “secularism,” but to real people.My friend illustrates a life lived this way by evoking images of the Pentecost when he says that we must be an upper room people that learn to go back downstairs.  I’m sure that the experience of the upper room wasn’t easy to leave, and yet the apostles did leave, to go back down the stairs, and engage with real people in a real world.  It was not safe for them.  It was not convenient.  I bet they wouldn’t have used the word “fun” to characterize their time downstairs.  I’m sure there were times when they felt they had no idea what they were doing.  Yet, they went to the places where Christianity is not the orientation to be Jesus there, and so must we.  So, perhaps we do have an example of what it looks like to be converted back to the world.  The Bible again shows us the way.  Being converted back into the world doesn’t entail a secularization of Christianity, it means we live a life of intention, as a missionary in whatever context we find ourselves in.  To our next-door-neighbors, our co-workers, our baristas, and our table-tennis instructors ( What? You don’t have one of those?).  By living as upstairs-Christians in a downstairs-world, we intentionally make ourselves available, relationally and spiritually, allowing God’s love to convert us once again.Ways forward …
Pray for the people in your life who have yet to experience that first conversion.  Then pray some more.
Be a missionary in your own context. Intentionally spend time in places where there is no God-ward orientation.  
Do you have anxiety about going downstairs?  Self-consciousness?  Pray through those feelings.  Journal about why that may be.

If you’ve like this post read more on engaging the world and calling here.




Pete Tegeler is a worship leader and a seminary student.  If you were to stop by his house, you might find him singing nonsense songs or dancing in the kitchen with his wife Erin and their two girls.


View Larger

The theologian Christoph Blumhardt said every Christian is called to be converted two times.  Blumhardt believed that we are first converted to Christianity, from the world to God, but must be converted again, back to the world.

When I first heard Blumhardt’s suggestion, I was reminded of the conversion experience where someone steps into relationship with God for the first time, and then comes clean from the world by throwing out “secular” music, cleaning up their language, and even sometimes finding a whole new group of friends, just so they can reorient themselves as a Christian.

But if that’s turning to God, what does being converted back into the world entail?  What does that look like?

Some might say that it’s when you start to initiate friendships with people who aren’t Christians by relating a bit more.  Maybe you listen to secular music again.  Maybe even just a cuss or two every now-and-again or a drink or two, just to let everyone know you’re not one of those “uptight Christians.”  

That just doesn’t ring true to me.  It strikes me as being too much of an escape from life as a Christian.  And I don’t think that’s what Blumhardt had in mind either. It has more to do with what our driving force is.

When we first turn toward God in conversion it’s a beautiful example of love and of worship as we become fully oriented toward him.  Why shouldn’t we stay there?  Because that’s not where God is fully oriented.  Because God’s love is also oriented toward the world, so our love follows.  God’s love in us must be the driving force to the people around us.  It puts us back in the world.  The point isn’t if we listen to Mumford & Sons or not.  We must know that it’s God’s love in us that drives us, not to “secularism,” but to real people.

My friend illustrates a life lived this way by evoking images of the Pentecost when he says that we must be an upper room people that learn to go back downstairs.  I’m sure that the experience of the upper room wasn’t easy to leave, and yet the apostles did leave, to go back down the stairs, and engage with real people in a real world.  It was not safe for them.  It was not convenient.  I bet they wouldn’t have used the word “fun” to characterize their time downstairs.  I’m sure there were times when they felt they had no idea what they were doing.  Yet, they went to the places where Christianity is not the orientation to be Jesus there, and so must we.  

So, perhaps we do have an example of what it looks like to be converted back to the world.  The Bible again shows us the way.  Being converted back into the world doesn’t entail a secularization of Christianity, it means we live a life of intention, as a missionary in whatever context we find ourselves in.  To our next-door-neighbors, our co-workers, our baristas, and our table-tennis instructors ( What? You don’t have one of those?).  By living as upstairs-Christians in a downstairs-world, we intentionally make ourselves available, relationally and spiritually, allowing God’s love to convert us once again.

Ways forward …

  1. Pray for the people in your life who have yet to experience that first conversion.  Then pray some more.
  2. Be a missionary in your own context. Intentionally spend time in places where there is no God-ward orientation.  
  3. Do you have anxiety about going downstairs?  Self-consciousness?  Pray through those feelings.  Journal about why that may be.

If you’ve like this post read more on engaging the world and calling here.

Pete Tegeler is a worship leader and a seminary student.  If you were to stop by his house, you might find him singing nonsense songs or dancing in the kitchen with his wife Erin and their two girls.

Comments (View)

My husband and I hear from many young ladies who are struggling with their worth and identity. These are issues I’ve wrestled with in the past (and from time to time still do). So I’m excited to share these prayer and scripture inspired thoughts with you… I hope they encourage you towards a deeper relationship with Christ and healthier dating relationships. I hope it stirs up some deep joy too as you reflect on the love that Christ offers us! 

Don’t be a Delilah (Judges 16)You may remember the story of Samson’s strength that destroyed a temple (and himself) and you may remember Samson’s hair, but do you remember Delilah?Delilah was a beautiful, deceitful, and persistent woman who preyed on Samson’s weaknesses. Blinded by Delilah’s beauty Samson became weak and vulnerable.Have you ever used your beauty to make a man weak—to make yourself strong?In my 30 years I’ve had friends and met many gals who have acted like Delilah. Through my own observation it seems like the common thread among these gals is insecurity, a deep insecurity. 

This insecurity shows up in how they dress and act, pictures they post, texts they send and lines they say. Underneath all the actions is a voice crying out, “Show me that I am worth it, affirm me. Help me know that I am significant.”Relationships that begin here never end well. The man ends up clingy. Both parties get hurt. It’s not a good scene. If you find yourself wrestling with “Delilah-like” tendencies please see that meaning, significance, worth, affirmation and identity are all freely given to you by someone who loves you more than any other man. Someone who became weak for you—because of His strong love.  

His name is Jesus. “Modern day Delilah’s, you need to realize that there is a man who was made weak for you. Not weakened by your beauty but weakened because of His loving grace. Jesus Christ became weak on the cross so that you might not strive for security—trying to justify yourself. In accepting His love your life is justified—you have significance in His eyes—so much so that He died for you. You have no reason for insecurity and you have every reason to treat men with the respect they deserve.” 

Ways forward
Talk to some friends about your Delilah-like tendency. We need community to journey with, to help us where we struggle and wrestle. 
Return to the cross, daily. Keep focusing on Jesus identity-forming, worth-giving, sacrificing love. When you see His love clearly your life will begin to change.
Read about His love. Read through 1 John, slowly (it’s towards the back). It is bold, honest and points to true love.


Don’t Take as Long as Leah (Genesis 29)

Leah had “weak eyes” while Rachel, her sister, was beautiful (Genesis 29:17).  Ouch.Like many, Leah grew up in the shadow of her younger and more beautiful sister Rachel. You can imagine it, “Rachel this, Rachel that.”One day a guy named Jacob shows up and guess what! He wants to marry Rachel, not Leah! He even works for her dad for seven years just to marry her.But at the end of those seven years Rachel and Leah’s dad somehow gets Leah in Jacob’s bed—on the night he’s supposed to marry Rachel. Awkward!While Jacob never ends up loving her (Genesis 29:31, 33) they (adding awkward to awkward) start having kids.1st kid: Reuben, meaning “He has seen my misery”2nd kid: Simeon: “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.”3rd kid: Levi: “attached” out of a desire that her husband would feel attached to her.You can understand. Leah is married through her father’s deceit to a man who doesn’t love her. She keeps having this man’s children, but still she isn’t loved. She just wants, more than anything else, for her husband to love her. But it doesn’t happen. But something else does. 4th kid: Judah, “praise”Praise, despite her sulking, angry, resentful husband. Praise, despite her always feeling that she’s living in the shadow of her sister. Praise! Then she stopped having children (Genesis 29:35).How does she do it?How does she praise God in spite of the mess of a marriage?She turns towards God. Throughout her marriage with Jacob she longed for his acceptance, for his love. This desire, while completely understandable, became an ultimate focus and sabotaged her joy.“Idolatry is taking a good thing and making it an ultimate thing” – Tim KellerLike Leah, many women long for a joy-infused relationship complete with Prince Charming. But we women need to know that Prince Charming is a fairy tale and Jesus is better.  When we pursue a fairy tale we end up in a tragedy.In my own life I have seen this to be true. It’s when my devotion and love for Christ has been strongest, it’s then that I’ve been able to love and respect my husband like I should (and like he deserves). There have been times when my eyes haven’t been fully focused on my Lord, times when I’ve made an idol out of my husband. This always leaves me frustrated and joyless. Have you ever felt like Leah? Have you ever longed for a relationship, so much so that it has become something of ultimate significance? Are relationships an idol in your life? Or have you made an idol out of a relationship, putting a burden on the relationship it wasn’t meant to bear?When the quest for a relationship is an idol, women settle. Typically she settles for one of two options:1. Slugs: Men with no ambition and no desire to do anything with their life (and no real interest in loving and serving their future wives). 2. Wolves: Men that only want to use you for your body and have little or no care for you as a person, you as God’s beloved. My heart breaks for women when I see this… It took Leah a long time for her to see that God is enough to give her validation and a sense of security—don’t take that long! Realize that you are whole, beautiful, and worth it! “Modern day Leahs, you need to know that you have worth. Look to the cross. God loves you so much that he took your place giving you what was rightfully his. While slugs are apathetic and wolves are vicious, Jesus Christ is a true man. He provided for you what no one else could. Don’t settle for a love that is less than sacrificial. His word says that His love for you has caused you to be holy, blameless and without blemish (Colossians 1:22). Don’t settle for a love that isn’t a real love. Don’t fall into the trap of making relationships an idol!” 

Ways Forward 
Be comfortable waiting. It can be hard when you see many of your friends dating and you aren’t. This can stir up tons of deep heart feelings. But don’t settle! Patience is considered a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Know that in the place of waiting God is working. 
Singleness and Marriage are both good. It’s hard to imagine singleness being good, especially in our romance and sex-soaked world. But singleness is good (check out 1 Corinthians 7). We worship a guy who died single and the best missionary in the history of the world was single. 
It is not good to be alone. While a dating relationship and Christ-focused community aren’t the same thing at our core we long for relationship. As you become vulnerable and step out in trust with sisters and brothers you’ll find yourself not needing to fill that sense of inner-loneliness. Our cry for community is answered in a variety of ways. Single doesn’t mean lonely. 

A Woman at a Well (John 4) 

Do you remember the story of the women at the well? Jesus asks her for a drink of water and the woman is shocked because she is a Samaritan and Jesus is a Jew. Jesus responds by telling her, in his unique Jesus way, who He is. He offers her healing, redemptive, living water.If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water (John 4:10).While some women are like Delilah and others are like Leah, the root of the problem is the same. We long for something that only Jesus can provide and when we look for it in a dating relationship it messes everything up. Many women wander for years, or a lifetime, in this desert of relationship confusion—longing for something to satisfy their parched heart. All the while Jesus offers not just water but a well of living water.


Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (John 4:14)


What we need He offers, just ask and trust. 


This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16)
View Larger
My husband and I hear from many young ladies who are struggling with their worth and identity. These are issues I’ve wrestled with in the past (and from time to time still do). So I’m excited to share these prayer and scripture inspired thoughts with you… I hope they encourage you towards a deeper relationship with Christ and healthier dating relationships. I hope it stirs up some deep joy too as you reflect on the love that Christ offers us! 

Don’t be a Delilah (Judges 16)
You may remember the story of Samson’s strength that destroyed a temple (and himself) and you may remember Samson’s hair, but do you remember Delilah?

Delilah was a beautiful, deceitful, and persistent woman who preyed on Samson’s weaknesses. Blinded by Delilah’s beauty Samson became weak and vulnerable.

Have you ever used your beauty to make a man weak—to make yourself strong?

In my 30 years I’ve had friends and met many gals who have acted like Delilah. Through my own observation it seems like the common thread among these gals is insecurity, a deep insecurity. 

This insecurity shows up in how they dress and act, pictures they post, texts they send and lines they say. Underneath all the actions is a voice crying out, “Show me that I am worth it, affirm me. Help me know that I am significant.”

Relationships that begin here never end well. The man ends up clingy. Both parties get hurt. It’s not a good scene. 
If you find yourself wrestling with “Delilah-like” tendencies please see that meaning, significance, worth, affirmation and identity are all freely given to you by someone who loves you more than any other man. Someone who became weak for you—because of His strong love.  

His name is Jesus. 

“Modern day Delilah’s, you need to realize that there is a man who was made weak for you. Not weakened by your beauty but weakened because of His loving grace. Jesus Christ became weak on the cross so that you might not strive for security—trying to justify yourself. In accepting His love your life is justified—you have significance in His eyes—so much so that He died for you. You have no reason for insecurity and you have every reason to treat men with the respect they deserve.” 

Ways forward
  1. Talk to some friends about your Delilah-like tendency. We need community to journey with, to help us where we struggle and wrestle. 
  2. Return to the cross, daily. Keep focusing on Jesus identity-forming, worth-giving, sacrificing love. When you see His love clearly your life will begin to change.
  3. Read about His love. Read through 1 John, slowly (it’s towards the back). It is bold, honest and points to true love.
Don’t Take as Long as Leah (Genesis 29)
Leah had “weak eyes” while Rachel, her sister, was beautiful (Genesis 29:17).  Ouch.

Like many, Leah grew up in the shadow of her younger and more beautiful sister Rachel. You can imagine it, “Rachel this, Rachel that.”

One day a guy named Jacob shows up and guess what! He wants to marry Rachel, not Leah! He even works for her dad for seven years just to marry her.

But at the end of those seven years Rachel and Leah’s dad somehow gets Leah in Jacob’s bed—on the night he’s supposed to marry Rachel. 

Awkward!

While Jacob never ends up loving her (Genesis 29:31, 33) they (adding awkward to awkward) start having kids.

1st kid: Reuben, meaning “He has seen my misery”
2nd kid: Simeon: “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.”
3rd kid: Levi: “attached” out of a desire that her husband would feel attached to her.

You can understand. Leah is married through her father’s deceit to a man who doesn’t love her. She keeps having this man’s children, but still she isn’t loved. She just wants, more than anything else, for her husband to love her. But it doesn’t happen. 

But something else does. 

4th kid: Judah, “praise”

Praise, despite her sulking, angry, resentful husband. Praise, despite her always feeling that she’s living in the shadow of her sister. Praise! Then she stopped having children (Genesis 29:35).

How does she do it?

How does she praise God in spite of the mess of a marriage?

She turns towards God. 

Throughout her marriage with Jacob she longed for his acceptance, for his love. This desire, while completely understandable, became an ultimate focus and sabotaged her joy.

“Idolatry is taking a good thing and making it an ultimate thing” – Tim Keller

Like Leah, many women long for a joy-infused relationship complete with Prince Charming. But we women need to know that Prince Charming is a fairy tale and Jesus is better.  When we pursue a fairy tale we end up in a tragedy.

In my own life I have seen this to be true. It’s when my devotion and love for Christ has been strongest, it’s then that I’ve been able to love and respect my husband like I should (and like he deserves). There have been times when my eyes haven’t been fully focused on my Lord, times when I’ve made an idol out of my husband. This always leaves me frustrated and joyless. 
Have you ever felt like Leah? Have you ever longed for a relationship, so much so that it has become something of ultimate significance? Are relationships an idol in your life? Or have you made an idol out of a relationship, putting a burden on the relationship it wasn’t meant to bear?

When the quest for a relationship is an idol, women settle. Typically she settles for one of two options:

1. Slugs: Men with no ambition and no desire to do anything with their life (and no real interest in loving and serving their future wives). 

2. Wolves: Men that only want to use you for your body and have little or no care for you as a person, you as God’s beloved. 

My heart breaks for women when I see this… 

It took Leah a long time for her to see that God is enough to give her validation and a sense of security—don’t take that long! Realize that you are whole, beautiful, and worth it! 

“Modern day Leahs, you need to know that you have worth. Look to the cross. God loves you so much that he took your place giving you what was rightfully his. While slugs are apathetic and wolves are vicious, Jesus Christ is a true man. He provided for you what no one else could. Don’t settle for a love that is less than sacrificial. His word says that His love for you has caused you to be holy, blameless and without blemish (Colossians 1:22). Don’t settle for a love that isn’t a real love. Don’t fall into the trap of making relationships an idol!” 

Ways Forward 
  1. Be comfortable waiting. It can be hard when you see many of your friends dating and you aren’t. This can stir up tons of deep heart feelings. But don’t settle! Patience is considered a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Know that in the place of waiting God is working. 
  2. Singleness and Marriage are both good. It’s hard to imagine singleness being good, especially in our romance and sex-soaked world. But singleness is good (check out 1 Corinthians 7). We worship a guy who died single and the best missionary in the history of the world was single. 
  3. It is not good to be alone. While a dating relationship and Christ-focused community aren’t the same thing at our core we long for relationship. As you become vulnerable and step out in trust with sisters and brothers you’ll find yourself not needing to fill that sense of inner-loneliness. Our cry for community is answered in a variety of ways. Single doesn’t mean lonely. 
A Woman at a Well (John 4) 
Do you remember the story of the women at the well? Jesus asks her for a drink of water and the woman is shocked because she is a Samaritan and Jesus is a Jew. 

Jesus responds by telling her, in his unique Jesus way, who He is. He offers her healing, redemptive, living water.

If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water (John 4:10).

While some women are like Delilah and others are like Leah, the root of the problem is the same. We long for something that only Jesus can provide and when we look for it in a dating relationship it messes everything up. 

Many women wander for years, or a lifetime, in this desert of relationship confusion—longing for something to satisfy their parched heart. All the while Jesus offers not just water but a well of living water.
Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (John 4:14)
What we need He offers, just ask and trust. 
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16)

Comments (View)

College ministries often have the reputation of being a more subtle E-Harmony.  Though often thought of as negative, it shouldn’t be. The church is, perhaps, the best place to meet the person you will one day marry. 
But, I’ve been wondering…
What if the core element of Christianity, Jesus Christ bringing reconciliation to God, pardon forgiveness from God and victory over sin actually shaped the dating relationships that began in the church. 
Here are some ways forward, though written to men they are equally for women… 
How do you treat her? Like a sister or a commodity (1 Timothy 5:2): Paul tells his younger friend to treat the young women in the church he leads as “sisters” and with “purity.”
If it was something Paul felt compelled to tell Timothy it applies to you as well. 
How does this shape a dating relationship or a the pursuit of a relationship?
It means she’s been bought with a price. It means that if you are in Christ she is your sister.
Contrary to what the magazines in check-out aisle suggest, women are not a commodity or a resource for satisfaction (or a buffer against insecurity). They are gifted, mysterious and bearers of God’s image. Approach them as sisters, nothing less. 
God’s love for her is greater than your love for her (Ephesians 5:20-32): Sure, you love her. I get it. But you don’t love her as much as God loves her. Paul shows this in Ephesians 5. I know the passage is about marriage but think about it. Paul takes the most profound love-relationship that exists among humans, marriage, and says that God loves His church that way. And that God’s covenant-love expressed in Christ is better, bigger and deeper than any other husband. Paul essentially says, husbands learn from the best husband. 
Men, if you want to honor your girlfriends look to Jesus’ love for the church.
What does that mean? It means that while you think you love her, in and of yourself, you don’t know what’s best for her. God does. It means God’s picture of relational love (incarnational and sacrificial) should define all your relationships, especially your girlfriend.
It means you speak God’s loving word over her rather than cajole and pressure her with your broken desire. It means that you seek to present her radiant and without blemish, rather than leaving her emotionally wounded and in need of counsel. 
God’s love in Christ is a compass north for the boyfriend as well as the husband.
Her relationship with God is more important than your relationship with her (Galatians 4:4-6). I know you think your relationship with her is the most important thing in the world but it’s not. It just isn’t.
"Boyfriends are speed bumps" is what a friend once told me. It’s true, kind of. God’s relationship with her is more important than her relationship with you. 
So if you really love her you will want her to grow spiritually, even if it means breaking up.
If you get this you will realize that God has adopted her as his daughter and is seeking to grow His life in her. If you aren’t helping her towards spiritual growth in Christ you might not love her—in fact you probably just love yourself and appreciate the feeling she gives you. 
Pointing her towards the true love found in Christ is the sign of real love. 
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16)
The truest part of her is not her feelings for you but her being “in Christ” (Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11). Sure, your feelings are strong but they’re not the truest part of you or her. Paul is so emphatic on this point that he says in two different places that the truest part of ourselves is us being in Christ. 
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slavenor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:11). 
If you understand that at the core of who she is lies her identity in Christ, not her feelings for you, then you can begin to truly respect and honor her. Then you can begin to truly know her. 
Prayer 
God, help us to let your love shape our love. 
Help us to love like you love.
Incarnationally.
Sacrificially. 
We need your Spirit for this—help us. 

College ministries often have the reputation of being a more subtle E-Harmony.  Though often thought of as negative, it shouldn’t be. The church is, perhaps, the best place to meet the person you will one day marry. 

But, I’ve been wondering…

What if the core element of Christianity, Jesus Christ bringing reconciliation to God, pardon forgiveness from God and victory over sin actually shaped the dating relationships that began in the church. 

Here are some ways forward, though written to men they are equally for women… 

How do you treat her? Like a sister or a commodity (1 Timothy 5:2): Paul tells his younger friend to treat the young women in the church he leads as “sisters” and with “purity.”

If it was something Paul felt compelled to tell Timothy it applies to you as well. 

How does this shape a dating relationship or a the pursuit of a relationship?

It means she’s been bought with a price. It means that if you are in Christ she is your sister.

Contrary to what the magazines in check-out aisle suggest, women are not a commodity or a resource for satisfaction (or a buffer against insecurity). They are gifted, mysterious and bearers of God’s image. Approach them as sisters, nothing less. 

God’s love for her is greater than your love for her (Ephesians 5:20-32): Sure, you love her. I get it. But you don’t love her as much as God loves her. Paul shows this in Ephesians 5. I know the passage is about marriage but think about it. Paul takes the most profound love-relationship that exists among humans, marriage, and says that God loves His church that way. And that God’s covenant-love expressed in Christ is better, bigger and deeper than any other husband. Paul essentially says, husbands learn from the best husband. 

Men, if you want to honor your girlfriends look to Jesus’ love for the church.

What does that mean? It means that while you think you love her, in and of yourself, you don’t know what’s best for her. God does. It means God’s picture of relational love (incarnational and sacrificial) should define all your relationships, especially your girlfriend.

It means you speak God’s loving word over her rather than cajole and pressure her with your broken desire. It means that you seek to present her radiant and without blemish, rather than leaving her emotionally wounded and in need of counsel. 

God’s love in Christ is a compass north for the boyfriend as well as the husband.

Her relationship with God is more important than your relationship with her (Galatians 4:4-6). I know you think your relationship with her is the most important thing in the world but it’s not. It just isn’t.

"Boyfriends are speed bumps" is what a friend once told me. It’s true, kind of. God’s relationship with her is more important than her relationship with you. 

So if you really love her you will want her to grow spiritually, even if it means breaking up.

If you get this you will realize that God has adopted her as his daughter and is seeking to grow His life in her. If you aren’t helping her towards spiritual growth in Christ you might not love her—in fact you probably just love yourself and appreciate the feeling she gives you. 

Pointing her towards the true love found in Christ is the sign of real love. 

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16)

The truest part of her is not her feelings for you but her being “in Christ” (Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11). Sure, your feelings are strong but they’re not the truest part of you or her. Paul is so emphatic on this point that he says in two different places that the truest part of ourselves is us being in Christ. 

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slavenor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:11). 

If you understand that at the core of who she is lies her identity in Christ, not her feelings for you, then you can begin to truly respect and honor her. Then you can begin to truly know her. 

Prayer 

God, help us to let your love shape our love. 

Help us to love like you love.

Incarnationally.

Sacrificially. 

We need your Spirit for this—help us. 


Comments (View)


What if the church were full of people who were loving and safe, willing to walk alongside people who struggle? What if there were people in the church who kept confidences, who took the time to be Jesus to those who struggle with homosexuality? What if the church were what God intended it to be? (Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting)

These questions are some of the most important questions facing the church today. If you’ve watched any of the “Chic Fil A” thing unfold you know at least two things: 1) the church represents the minority position and 2) casual references to the biblical picture of sexuality and marriage incite scorn. 
While many are defending Chic Fil A, and understandably, the storm of outrage is also understandable. The church, Christ’s body, has often burnt the bridges leading to the gay community, or at least has let them fall into disrepair. 
What does it mean to build bridges?
What does it mean to have integrity to our Lord while also showing our Lord’s incarnational and sacrificial love?
These are questions we need to wrestle with. 
This past year I talked with a Christian friend who struggles with same-sex desire. Out of a context of friendship I asked him lots of tough question about his faith and life. At one point he said:

The church is the only community that has 100% accepted me. They’ve accepted me and challenged me. In the church I’ve learned that I am not accepted by my good works or rejected because of my “bad works” but accepted because Jesus Christ took my place on the cross. I have also come to understand that I am being changed from the inside out, whether or not my desires change I am being conformed to more fully reflect my identity as God’s son. 

In hearing this my eyes welled up with tears. I knew that a year ago this young man didn’t understand the gospel and didn’t feel included. Here was a testimony of change. You would never hear this story on CNN but here it was, the church being the church. 
Below are some resources and ways forward that I hope inspires us to be the church to our brothers and sisters wrestling with this desire…
Resources
Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill. This little book was so helpful for me. I’ve read a lot on the subject but here was succinct picture into the heart of the issue. Thanks Wesley!
Here is an article by Andrew Marin at Project Love on his journey to building bridges to the gay community. It will inspire you and challenge you. 
Ways Forward
Focus on identity. Galatians 3:28 is clear the Christian’s identity is not found in ethnicity, occupation, gender, or sexuality, but Christ. Many of us have been taught that sexuality and identity are the same. This is Freud not the Bible. All Christians need to realize this truth. When Christians (of all sexual orientations) realize this they come to understand that there is a Lord that calls for an allegiance in all areas of life and that this allegiance brings both sacrifice and freedom. 
Treat all sexual sin the same. For many reasons this has been hard for the church. While the teenager struggling with lust gets a hug and a prayer the gay Christian might get ostracized. This is wrong. The church loses credibility when it picks favorites. The church should strive to be as credible as its Lord. 
Create a trust environment. If there is no trust, no Christian wrestling with same-sex attraction, nor anyone else, will confide. More than ever the church needs to love and support the quiet voices wrestling with same-sex attraction. Here’s a hint: the more flippant and off-handed comments we make the less trust is established. 
Prayer
Lord, we want to be your body—help us. 
Lord, we want our gay brothers and sisters to confide in us—help us to be worthy of their confidence.
Lord, we desire sexual integrity—help us to find you more compelling than the direction our brokenness would take us. 
For all of this we need you. 

What if the church were full of people who were loving and safe, willing to walk alongside people who struggle? What if there were people in the church who kept confidences, who took the time to be Jesus to those who struggle with homosexuality? What if the church were what God intended it to be? (Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting)

These questions are some of the most important questions facing the church today. If you’ve watched any of the “Chic Fil A” thing unfold you know at least two things: 1) the church represents the minority position and 2) casual references to the biblical picture of sexuality and marriage incite scorn. 

While many are defending Chic Fil A, and understandably, the storm of outrage is also understandable. The church, Christ’s body, has often burnt the bridges leading to the gay community, or at least has let them fall into disrepair. 

What does it mean to build bridges?

What does it mean to have integrity to our Lord while also showing our Lord’s incarnational and sacrificial love?

These are questions we need to wrestle with. 

This past year I talked with a Christian friend who struggles with same-sex desire. Out of a context of friendship I asked him lots of tough question about his faith and life. At one point he said:

The church is the only community that has 100% accepted me. They’ve accepted me and challenged me. In the church I’ve learned that I am not accepted by my good works or rejected because of my “bad works” but accepted because Jesus Christ took my place on the cross. I have also come to understand that I am being changed from the inside out, whether or not my desires change I am being conformed to more fully reflect my identity as God’s son. 

In hearing this my eyes welled up with tears. I knew that a year ago this young man didn’t understand the gospel and didn’t feel included. Here was a testimony of change. You would never hear this story on CNN but here it was, the church being the church. 

Below are some resources and ways forward that I hope inspires us to be the church to our brothers and sisters wrestling with this desire…

Resources

  1. Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill. This little book was so helpful for me. I’ve read a lot on the subject but here was succinct picture into the heart of the issue. Thanks Wesley!
  2. Here is an article by Andrew Marin at Project Love on his journey to building bridges to the gay community. It will inspire you and challenge you. 

Ways Forward

  1. Focus on identity. Galatians 3:28 is clear the Christian’s identity is not found in ethnicity, occupation, gender, or sexuality, but Christ. Many of us have been taught that sexuality and identity are the same. This is Freud not the Bible. All Christians need to realize this truth. When Christians (of all sexual orientations) realize this they come to understand that there is a Lord that calls for an allegiance in all areas of life and that this allegiance brings both sacrifice and freedom. 
  2. Treat all sexual sin the same. For many reasons this has been hard for the church. While the teenager struggling with lust gets a hug and a prayer the gay Christian might get ostracized. This is wrong. The church loses credibility when it picks favorites. The church should strive to be as credible as its Lord. 
  3. Create a trust environment. If there is no trust, no Christian wrestling with same-sex attraction, nor anyone else, will confide. More than ever the church needs to love and support the quiet voices wrestling with same-sex attraction. Here’s a hint: the more flippant and off-handed comments we make the less trust is established. 

Prayer

Lord, we want to be your body—help us. 

Lord, we want our gay brothers and sisters to confide in us—help us to be worthy of their confidence.

Lord, we desire sexual integrity—help us to find you more compelling than the direction our brokenness would take us. 

For all of this we need you. 

(Source: )


Comments (View)