Contextualization and Church Planting
A New Class System is Emerging
After I wrote this blog, and before it was posted, President Joe Biden set forth several mandates regarding vaccines. Without a doubt, the content of this blog is relevant for helping Christians think well about vaccines and masks.
There Is Nothing New Under The Sun
Throughout history, humanity has known how to divide itself. Classes are created to segregate one group of people from another. We have caste systems that have existed since the 1500s. I am old enough to remember the Rwandan genocide. In 1994 and over 100 days, about 800,000 people were slaughtered in Rwanda by ethnic Hutu extremists. The Hutu’s were mainly targeting members of the minority Tutsi community. The class system in Rwanda was tribal.
India is well known for its caste system. From top to bottom, the priests are on top (Bhramin), followed by the warriors (Kashatryia), then the merchants and landlords (Vaisya), and last are the commoners and peasants (Sudra). You are born into a caste, and you cannot leave the caste.
People are divided into classes by economics, race, ethnic background, country, and religion. At present, in America, a new class is emerging. A new division is being created. The division is between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the division was between the masked and the unmasked. However, masks have now become a sideshow to vaccines. There is a large contingent of pro-vaxers who are passionate about every single person receiving a vaccine. The anti-vax folks want to be left alone or have questions about the efficacy and safety of the vaccines. Each side has its reasons, and each side is now digging the trench for a long battle.
Dare To Be Different
My aim isn’t to stir the pot. Oh, I have opinions on masks and vaccines. I have strong opinions. My close friends and family are not naive to my position. But my main concern is that the cultural conversation lacks civility and charity. Further, I am concerned that the lack of civility and charity has made its way into the church. My hope is that the church would rise above the emerging class system and remain united even amid varying opinions. The following are several thoughts about staying united while disagreeing with brothers and sisters in Christ.
United By Christ
Christians need to remember we are united to each other because we are united in Christ. Do yourself a favor and read all of Ephesians chapter one. The theological reality of our unity is far superior to an opinion on masks and vaccines. Perhaps it’s time for the church to memorize all of Psalm 133.
1 Behold, how good and pleasant it iswhen brothers dwell in unity!2 It is like the precious oil on the head,running down on the beard,on the beard of Aaron,running down on the collar of his robes!3 It is like the dew of Hermon,which falls on the mountains of Zion!For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,life forevermore.– Psalm 133:1–3
God delights to see his church – the bride of Christ – united. You would be naive to think Israel didn’t witness cultural conversations attempting to divide God’s people during the reign of King David. The same for the apostle Paul in the 1st century. Perhaps the outstanding number of passages on unity in the Bible exists because the devil would love nothing more than to see disunity in the church.
I am not suggesting you keep your opinions to yourself. Instead, I hope opinions can be framed with Christian unity. Perhaps a hyper-focus on Christian unity can temper the passion and rhetoric between the vaxers and
Selfless-Space: Coming face to face with our human desire to put ourselves first and choosing to seek God in making choices that put Him and His will first…no matter the sacrifice
One of the first verses of the Bible my oldest daughter memorized when she was young was Philippians 2:3. We read in Holy Scripture,
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.Philippians 2:3
Philippians 2:3 is a verse that challenges the inclinations of every individual. A person’s tendency is not to be concerned about God and others but with the self. Yet, we admire an athlete or movie character who demonstrates a remarkable level of self-sacrifice. Likewise, our military is honored for its self-sacrifice. Thus, we see glimpses of self-sacrifice, but it isn’t easy when we are personally faced with an opportunity to place others before ourselves. So why does the tension exist? And how does a person lay down self-interest for the sake of others, and more importantly, for God?
The Nature of Man: Sin
Every person born into this world has a sinful nature (Genesis 3). Because of sin, every person has an insatiable desire to put their needs and wants before others and God. For example, marriages that break down can often be attributed to a selfish desire. Siblings might fight over a toy, not because the toy is interesting, but because the other person has the toy. Sin corrupts the heart and can make a person hyper-focused on the self. If all this is true, how can someone begin to live out Philippians 2:3? How does a person put the needs of others before the self?
The Path Toward Self-Sacrifice
After you read Philippians 2:3, we are told to take on the mind of Christ (v. 5). Taking on the mind of Christ means following the self-sacrificial humility of Christ. Consider for a moment how Jesus modeled self-sacrifice through humility. Jesus knows about your sin, and he took the hard path to the cross to forgive your sin and set you free from the power of sin. If you are a Christian, Jesus died on the cross in your place. If you keep reading Philippians 2, you will read this glorious verse about Jesus.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.– Philippians 2:8
Philippians 2:8 is the good news. If you are a Christian, you are called, every single day, to lay down your desires, wants, and needs for the sake of others and the glory of God. Christians are called to emulate Christ.
These characteristics seem like sensible advice:
Taking on the mind of Christ.Living humbly before God and each other.Looking out for the interests of others before your own.
But when you consider that Christ humbled himself by dying on a cross and Christ put our lives before his own, and this is what you are to model, the task seems insurmountable. And apart from God, it is. But with God, you can live out these life-giving words. With the Holy Spirit working in your life, humbly putting the needs of others before yourself is a joy.
As you ponder the joy of self-sacrifice, think of one person you can serve. What are the needs of that person? How do you demonstrate Christ to that person by humbly laying down your needs for the other? When a person has come to your mind, along with the need, take time to act. Be like Christ.
Yet Not I But Christ Through Me
This devotional was written for Agape Pregnancy Resource Center in Des
Why We Are Pro-Life
Kenny Ortiz joins the Cornfield Theology podcast to discuss why we are pro-life.
Moving Toward Biblical Justice
What does it look like to pursue biblical justice? Is there a difference between social justice and biblical justice? In this episode of Cornfield Theology, I discuss these questions with Erik McEntyre.
Mission and Redemption in the Genealogy of the Gospel of Matthew
It’s no secret that men dominate the stories we read in Holy Scripture. There is no need to sugarcoat the truth. But the dominance of men in the Bible does not negate the profound impact made by women. For example, Deborah was a woman and a prophet who judged righteously (Judges 4-5). She was more of a military leader than a judge, but she was invested with leadership that held the lives of others in her hands. Another notable woman is Ruth. The story of Ruth is a story about loyalty and redemption. It’s a beautiful story that I have often read to my daughters.
Women also show up in New Testament genealogies. Ruth makes a reappearance (Matthew 1:5) along with Tamar (v. 3; cf. Gen 38), Rahab (v. 5; cf. Josh 2), Bathsheba (v. 6; cf. 2 Sam 11), and Mary (v. 16). The reason for including Mary is apparent, and even Ruth makes sense. But what about the other three women? Tamar tricked her father-in-law, Judah, into sleeping with him (Gen 38:14-15). Judah was no saint, but the point remains. Rahab was a prostitute. And technically speaking, Bathsheba’s name is not mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy. Instead, she is referred to as “Uriah’s wife.”
Any inclusion of a woman into a Jewish genealogy is unusual, but Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba deserve some explanation.
Genealogies mattered to Jewish life and culture. I don’t know my great-grandpa’s name on either side of the family, but young Eli living in the 1st century Israel has his entire family line mapped out going back centuries. There was a sense of pride to know where a young Jew came from. To be a part of a family tree meant a sense of belonging, and it also conveyed history.
So what is the point of inserting Tamar, Rahab, and “Uriah’s wife” into the genealogy of Matthew 1? Is the gospel writer, Matthew, attempting to show family pride, a sense of belonging, and history? Yes and no. I think there is more going on than initially meets the eye. And let’s be honest, not much meets the eye when reading a genealogy. They are passed over more than my kids pass over a kale salad at the dinner table.
History of Redemption
Matthew 1 connects the past with the present and the future. Thus, the genealogy in Matthew (and Luke) is not only about looking backward, but it’s about how God’s plan of redemption is coming to fruition. In particular, Matthew sets forth the genealogical roadmap of how Jesus Christ is the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16). Unlike Luke, Matthew extends back to Abraham and not Adam. Tracing the line of redemption is the primary goal of Matthew. The promise of a future redemption is made clear later in Matthew 1. We read in verse 21,
She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.– Matthew 1:21
The Greek verb for will bear (τέξεται) is in the future, middle, and indicative, while the Greek verb for will save (σώσει) is in the future, active and indicative forms, connecting the past with the present and future. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the apex of God’s plan of redemption. Salvation is what Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba needed, along with every person on the list.
Parenthetical Comments on David and Bathsheba
There is some debate between biblical scholars on the sexual intent of King David and Bathsheba. Was Bathsheba raped, or was she complicit in adultery? I will not answer the question here but make an observation about the exclusion of Bathsheba’s name in Matthew&#
Clear and helpful
They discuss deep theology but break it down for you. Don’t be intimidated, you may not understand everything they say but let’s be honest we should all aspire to be challenged both by the message and by the vocabulary or we aren’t learning as much as we could. They share great information and discuss biblical theology in a helpful way. Definitely worth making the time to listen regularly.
Always interesting & biblical
I love listening to Cornfield Theology. Every episode is funny and gives such good insight into theological and cultural issues. Big thanks to Shawn for hosting this!