Loving Jesus means you’re commanded to love fellow believers–all of them

I’m not a big bumper sticker guy, but I couldn’t help noticing the one proudly displayed on my new neighbor’s car. When I first saw it, I was excited because it said, “JESUS LOVES YOU” in large capital letters. Great! I thought. A Christian has moved in next to me. I imagined early morning Bible studies, perhaps even attending church together, exchanging prayer lists, or swapping casserole recipes for church potlucks. But the rest of the bumper sticker gave me pause. In fine print, under the “JESUS LOVES YOU,” was a cryptic second line: “But everyone else thinks you’re a jerk.” My neighbor is not a theologian. I’m not even sure he is a follower of Christ. But those simple lines gave me some good insight into a phenomenon that unfortunately plagues the evangelical. We think it’s acceptable to love Jesus and hate His followers. The last few years have seen...

Continue Reading

What The Incarnation Means for Our Bodies

The angel was clear, to Mary, about the mission of Jesus. In his angelic announcement, he said that Jesus would come to "save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21)." To be our Savior, God had to become human. He had to suffer as a human. He had to take on the full punishment of God's wrath for human sin. This was God's plan all along, an event that took place at "just the right time" (Galatians 4:4-7). The prophet said that it would "please the Lord to bruise him (Isaiah 53:10)." Jesus accomplished what no man could accomplish. He, as the Second Adam, restores our humanity and reconciles us to Christ: As Charles Wesley so beautifully writes: Born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth. And later: Second Adam from above, Reinstate us in Thy love. Christmas is the celebration that Jesus came to this earth to...

Continue Reading

Book of Wishes: The reason we long for more

It arrived every November, wrapped in cellophane, its pages filled with new possibilities. On the cover, a dreamy holiday image, pulling your heart into the season and beckoning you to indulge in hours of wish making. It’s hard to overestimate the sheer joy the Sears Wish Book brought to my young heart. Before Amazon and Apple. Before Walmart and Black Friday. Before Facebook and Google. Every year, I waited with anticipation and longing for the day this catalog would come. A savvy wisher would ignore the advice on the front page, which warned shoppers against skipping to other sections and “missing out” on possible gems like Garfield piggy banks, board games, and Chicago Bears pajamas nestled among the cheesy sweaters, cheap jewelry, and knife sets. The gems, every child knew, were found in only one place—the toy section. Full immersion in the Wish Book took days, not hours. A young boy had to...

Continue Reading

When everything isn’t awesome: Is the modern evangelical worship service a safe place to lament?

A couple years ago, I took a day off and treated my family to a matinee showing of The Lego Movie. My wife and I have four children—three girls and one boy—so this day was like an oasis for my son and me, surrounded as we are by princess movies. As it turns out, everyone, girls included, enjoyed the film. What we didn’t realize, however, was that the theme song “Everything is Awesome” would replace “Let It Go” from Frozen as the tune that would get stuck in our heads most often. By the end of the summer, for the sake of our sanity, we nearly banned it in the Darling house. But every time I watch the movie and see those little plastic figures running around gleefully, I can’t help but be reminded of church. If there is a soundtrack to most evangelical worship services today, it’s that everything is...

Continue Reading