Good Question

The purpose of the Museum of the Bible, opened in 2017 in Washington D.C., is not just to display relics. It shows how the Bible has impacted human history, individual people, and every area of life.

What a timely message, since modern voices claim Biblical teachings are stifling and oppressive. Last year, a British court ruled that belief in the Bible is “incompatible with human dignity” in punishing a Christian physician for disagreeing with certain modern sentiments.  It even cited a specific verse (Gen. 1:27) it found offensive.  That is a logical sequitur from Karl Marx’s declaration, “The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness.”  History repeats itself, as in “there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord” (Jud. 2:10).

Would America be happier without Christians? Consider a few facts. Our oldest universities such as Yale, Harvard, and Princeton were founded by Christians.  Each year, one in six patients receive care in hospitals founded by Christians.  Over 350,000 congregations help alleviate the pain of human need for over 70 million Americans each year with $20 billion in donations.  In post-Katrina New Orleans, churches in Louisiana distributed 62 million pounds of relief supplies.  Pastors provide about 140 million hours of counseling and mental health services annually, at no charge.

The world is better when it embraces the Christian concept that all people have value, and are made in God’s image. Look at the video clip of Tim Tebow talking about his “Night to Shine” worldwide prom initiative on “The Tonight Show,” then dancing with Judy.  What a contrast to the world Jesus stepped into, where the Roman practice was to discard unwanted girls and babies born with challenges or deformities.  If killing innocent humans is despicable today, it’s because of Jesus.

Today’s culture is sailing into turbulent waters, blown by winds of secularism. As the saying goes, “You might get what you want, but you might not want what you get.” Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion admitted, “I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, insofar as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.”

Steve Green, President of Hobby Lobby, was instrumental in the founding of the Museum of the Bible. He writes about the revolutionary preaching and ministry of Jesus and notes, “Within three centuries, this nonviolent movement had swept the Roman Empire.  Doctrines of racism were laid aside, crucifixion and the cruel gladiator games of the arenas were ended, the dignity of life was taken to new levels, the seeds of the emancipation of slaves were planted, and the groundwork of modern science was laid.  It was the beginning of countless blessings bestowed on the world by the Christian church.  Why would anyone want to see that end?”  Good question.

Lasting Beauty

Julie Andrews famously sang about “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.” Her favorite things included “girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes.”

The lyrics work because we never tire of beauty. C.S. Lewis wrote, “We want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to become part of it” (“The Weight of Glory”). God has created us with a yearning for more of the beauty we see, but that desire will not be satisfied this side of eternal glory.

About glory the Bible says, “We do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the (temporal) things which are seen, but the (eternal) things which are not seen” (2 Cor. 4:16-18). Whatever weighty glory awaits, it is beyond our earthly experience, we won’t know it until we see it, and it is beautiful beyond imagination. Is that not the beauty we truly desire?

In a fable, Lewis describes a woman thrown into a dungeon where she bears and raises a son. A grating above is the only glimpse of the outside world. With pad and pencil, she sketches fields, rivers, and mountains to explain that the world is far more glorious than their dungeon. One day, she realizes that he doesn’t get it. “You didn’t think that the real world was full of lines drawn in lead pencil?” “What?” says the boy. “No pencil marks there?” He could not imagine the color, contours, and movement of nature that would make the black, static lines disappear. Likewise, we cannot imagine the “things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard…that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9).

You are hard-wired with an appreciation for beauty. Not only is that evidence for the existence of God (for what evolutionary purpose are you enraptured by brilliant sunset hues of orange and pink?) but also it hints at what is to come. When you experience beauty, remember the promise of an eternal weight of glory.

The Sound of Music is not about escaping dog bites and bee stings, but the Nazi occupation of Austria and the accompanying evils of the world. Earthly beauty is only a momentary escape from those evils, but it is a major hint at the eternal beauty that awaits God-lovers. Let beauty give you hope and keep you from losing heart, as you await the things not seen. May the hills be alive with that sound of music!


Martin Luther King, Jr. was an Atlanta pastor who spent time in an Alabama jail. When his fellow clergymen described his cause “extreme” and called for an end to it, he responded with his now-famous Letter from Birmingham City Jail.

King wrote, “You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. As I continued to think about the matter, I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you.’ Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: ‘I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.’ Was not Martin Luther an extremist: ‘Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.’ And John Bunyan: ‘I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.’ And Thomas Jefferson: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evidence, that all men are created equal.’ So, the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love?”

I can think of a few other extreme things Jesus said to whoever might be listening. “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant” (Matt. 20:26). “Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35). “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27). “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” (Luke 18:17). “Whoever believes in (God’s only Son) shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Is it extreme to believe the virgin birth of Jesus actually happened? Philosopher Vince Vitale recently spoke about this. He mentioned Stephen Hawking’s atheistic explanation for our universe: “. . . the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.” Vitale wonders, “Is that any less miraculous of a birth than the account from Luke Chapter 1? We live in a miraculous world. Regardless of whether you are a theist, an atheist, or an agnostic, there’s no getting around that fact. It’s not a matter of whether we believe in a virgin birth, it’s just a matter of which virgin birth we choose to accept.”

King and Vitale make the same point. We are all extremists of one stripe or another. The culture prefers the extremes of progressive secularism and naturalistic scientism, and concludes that faith is irrelevant. So, to believe and act on the Bible’s audacious truth claims is to earn the label “extremist.” But if that’s what it takes to know and follow Jesus, I accept. What kind of extremist are you?


It’s resolution time again, isn’t it? Or not. I suppose any time is a good time for improving, restarting, or renewing something. My suggestion is that if you are planning a resolution, surround it with lifestyle changes that will make it easier to become a habit.

Perhaps the resolution urge comes from God making us in His image, and He is about restoring, reconciling, and renewing. When He created the earth it was dark, formless, and void. But He renewed it with light and life, and saw that His creation was good.

But we still need renewal because things didn’t stay good. While love and beauty abound so does evil, reminding us that this is a fallen world. Actually, that’s on us. We collectively ruined things when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Any brokenness you observe or experience has its root in that.

But thankfully, things do not have to stay ruined. God the Son stepped into the world to wipe away the root cause of sin and brokenness. That means rebirth is possible. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3). It means renewal is possible. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17).

God’s renewal of creation will continue. John the Apostle saw a vision of a new heaven and a new earth in the future. He heard Jesus saying, “Behold I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5). Knowing that brokenness and ruin are impermanent encourages you to endure the twisting and turning of the world. As a believer, you are an ambassador for Christ and part of His visible work in this world as He renews it one life at a time. Be about your Father’s business, as Jesus was.

Smith and Stonestreet in their book Restoring All Things list four questions that can help you resolve how to participate in God’s renewing work in the world. (1) What is something good that you can promote or protect? (2) What is missing that you can provide? (3) What is evil that you can stop? (4) What is broken that you can restore? These questions are good for churches, volunteer organizations, and businesses as well.

Your response may be something you do alone, or with others. You might need the courage to do something counter-cultural, or the discipline to do something time-consuming. As you participate in God’s work of renewal, your family and community will benefit. Even more, it fulfills the purposes for which God renewed you.