Friday, January 25, 2008

An AskChaka First

I was very gratified to see that Matt Casper, one of the coauthors of Jim and Casper Go to Church, commented on the post below. Click here to go to the site he's talking about. This may well be the first time that someone I don't know personally has commented on this blog. Yay for milestones!

(By the way, I should probably disclose that I work for the publisher of J&CGtC. Sorry you haven't gotten any royalties yet, Casper. I bought my copy on my employee discount, so I hope that didn't short-change you.)

I posed a question in that post: "If God wants to give us good things, what good things does he have in mind?" The definition of "good things" varies from person to person, of course. And it doesn't take much time in the Bible to give you the impression that God doesn't just hand out to us whatever we think is good. The proof of this lies in the life of Jesus.

Let me explain. It suddenly struck me one day about three years ago that we have an easy way to know what God's best for our lives looks like. Who was the person most blessed by God? Who did God honor more than anyone else? Let me put it this way: To whom did God give a name (a reputation, honor) above all other names? (This one's easy, just go for the Sunday School answer.)

I assert that Jesus had the most blessed life, the life full of the most good things--from God's perspective. Jesus most deserved a good life from God, and God wasn't stingy with answering his prayers:

While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. Heb 5:7-8

But how did God answer the prayers of Jesus? He was rescued from death, but he still experienced death (we'll talk about Harry Potter's debt to Hebrews some other time). He had a blessed life, but what kind of life was it? It contained poverty, rejection, insecurity, abandonment, and bitter death. If we look for freedom from pain and discomfort as a mark of the blessed life, we will miss the most blessed life of all. The goodness that God gave to Jesus included these things.

The upshot of all this is that I think God's idea of blessedness is radically different from ours. We know that Jesus said the poor were blessed, but we don't believe him; we think he's just trying to make them feel better, or showing that he's really cool and not materialistic at all. How would Joel Osteen pray if he believed that the poor have a more blessed life.

Wait, that's a cheap shot. How would I pray if I believed that?

Well, I have to run to an appointment (my sister-in-law has an art show in the city), and I haven't finished my thought, so I'll b

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