Thursday, June 29, 2017

Dave's 95 Theses

A Devotional Exercise

The 500th anniversary of the reformation is this October 31st.   On that date in 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 theses for an academic debate discussing the fundraising practice of granting indulgences used by the Roman church at the time.    The issue he raised in this debate was the spark that enabled the Reformation of the church to quickly spread throughout Europe and transform the theological, historical, political, sociological, economic, cultural and artistic landscape of western civilization.  

As my way of commemorating this milestone, I decided to come up with my own 95 theses.   (A word of warning, mine are a lot more random and less focused than Luther's) Basically, I tried to say 95 things about my faith.   Each one is sourced with a biblical reference to show that the statements I made spring from up from the wellspring our faith and are not my mere opinions.   I would not call them facts either, because other people of faith will read these verses and come up with different conclusions than I have.  What they are is my humble attempt at a witness to the work of our Lord Jesus Christ and the challenges he calls us to consider. This was harder than I thought it was going to be, and I hope that by sharing it can be a blessing to you. 

1. Since Jesus is the way the truth and the life, Christians are called to act as if Jesus meant what he said and that his words truly matter. John 14:6

2. Jesus doesn’t belong to me; I belong to Jesus. John 10:11-18

3. Jesus understands me because he is human. Galatians 4:4-5

4. Jesus can save me because he is God. Colossians 1:15-16

5. Jesus’ humanity means that God can identify with anyone’s life situation, classification or identification. Jesus’ divinity means that these things can be transcended. Colossians 3:11

6. God wills that we can rejoice in the life given to us no matter what happens. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

7. God is acting in today's world. Psalm 121:4

8. We are called to love God above all and to love all people as we love ourselves. Matthew 22: 27-40.

9. Consuming religious services or products is no way to be confused with actual discipleship of Jesus Christ. Mark 8:34

10. There is a single common humanity created in the image of God. Upon this fact all teaching about salvation rests. Genesis 2:27

11. Religious, political, cultural, gender and racial classifications do not affect anyone’s value in God’s eyes. Galatians 3:28

12. Diversity is a tangible expression of God’s good creation. Colossians 1:16-17

13. Monocultures lead to destruction. Genesis 11:6

14. Those who equate a political, cultural, gender, religious or other humanly created identity with actual faith in Jesus Christ betray the Gospel, divide the body of Christ and torture the consciences of the faithful. Revelation 7:9

15. Those who hold a different political, cultural, religious or other identity than ourselves are to be treated with love, dignity, and respect. Matthew 5:43-48

16. Using degrading or abusive language to put down or gain advantage over a person of different political, cultural, gender, religious or racial identity is in all circumstances sin. Matthew 5:21-26

17. Followers of Jesus are called to love, care for, and provide acts of mercy for those of different, religious, political, cultural, gender and racial classifications than themselves. Luke 10:37

18. The church should care for its own as well as serving others. James 5:13

19. We are to witness Jesus Christ to all people without exclusion. Matthew 28:18-20

20. God understands your fears and will not discount them 1 Peter 5:7

21. People are always good and bad mixed up. Every individual has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

22. There is no such thing as a completely pure or innocent person. Psalm 51:5

23. If we claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, we must learn to forgive others as God has forgiven us. Matthew 18:21-35

24. If we are truly followers of Jesus Christ we must commit to living a life where we do not continue to sin. Romans 6:1-4

25. When we sin, followers of Jesus Christ are not to hide the truth, but bring our situation to God and other people for healing and forgiveness. 1 John 2:1-2

26. We are called not to kill because life belongs to God. When we make allowances for killing for any reason we subvert God’s will. Leviticus 17:10-12 & Exodus 20:13

27. War, capital punishment and abortion are always expressions of humanity’s bondage to sin. Christians should work to minimize their occurrences while demonstrating love, forgiveness and mercy to both those who commit and are affected by these actions. Matthew 5:38-42

28. A commitment to God means providing for others in need at every stage of their lives. Luke 6:27-36

29. A commitment to God means a commitment to the poor. Galatians 2:10

30. A commitment to God means a commitment to the sick. Matthew 25:35

31. A commitment to God means a commitment to the hungry. Matthew 25:35

32. A commitment to God means a commitment to the homeless. Isaiah 58:7

33. A commitment to God means a commitment to the imprisoned. Matthew 25:36

34. A commitment to God means a commitment to the refugee. Leviticus 19:9-10

35. A commitment to God means a commitment to the immigrant. Deuteronomy 26:5

36. If you give to others to make yourself look better; you may be doing more harm than good. Matthew 6:2-4

37. No one is entitled to grace; it is always a gift. Ephesians 2:4-6

38. Good works do not make good people. Galatians 3:10

39. People are created to do good works. Ephesians 2:10

40. People don’t get credit from God, only grace. Romans 3:21-26

41. Debts to God are not satisfied but forgiven. Colossians 2:12-15

42. In the end, love and justice will amount to the same thing. Galatians 5:13-15

43. In the end, Christ is the only judge who matters. Revelation 20:11-15

44. Good works may not save us, but they reflect our faith, spread the Gospel and let our neighbors know that they are loved. James 2:14-17

45. God is completely free to act in any way that God chooses. Isaiah 45:7

46. God is not subject to any theology, interpretation, expectation or abstract concept. Isaiah 45:7

47. Collective human actions stand under God’s judgement as much as individual actions do. Amos 2:6-8

48. Only God decides what justice ultimately is. Isaiah 28:17

49. Worship without a commitment to justice is not worship at all. Isaiah 58:6

50. How our actions affect the most vulnerable in our society is the most important criteria for making moral decisions.. Isaiah 10:1-2

51. Worldly prosperity or success is not necessarily a mark of genuine discipleship, evidence of faithfulness or of God’s special favor. Matthew 5:1-12

52. Our weaknesses, hurts and faults make room for God in our lives. 2 Corinthians 12:9

53. No individual has the exact same spiritual gifts as another. 1 Corinthians 12: 4-6

54. Exploiting the work, bodies or assets of others violates the will of God. Isaiah 65.25

55. Those who rejoice in the troubles of others damage their relationship with God. Proverbs 17:5

56. Suffering for remaining faithful to the teaching of Jesus Christ is a mark of genuine discipleship and evidence of faithfulness. 1 Peter 3:13-16

57. Our practices of faith are virtuous when they seek communion with God and hope for our world. Matthew 6:1-16

58. Our faith practices are required to be understandable to all and welcoming to everyone so that each person we encounter has an opportunity to hear the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 14:21-25

59. Our houses of worship are to be called be houses of prayer and not market based institutions. John 2:16

60. A genuine life of faith is lived in community with other people. 1 Corinthians 12:27

61. Disciples of Jesus Christ are called to be a blessing to the local communities where they live. Jeremiah 29:7

62. Leadership in the body of Christ should be focused on service rather than power. Luke 14:10

63. Leadership in the body of Christ is to be shared among all the faithful. 1 Peter 2:9-11

64. Leadership in the body of Christ requires exemplary conduct. 1 Timothy 3:1-12

65. Leaders of the body of Christ should expect to be called to pray for others at any time. James 5:14

66. Where your ultimate concern lies, there is your god, no matter whom you may confess to worshiping. Matthew 5:19-23

67. Like individuals, the church is both good and bad mixed up. Acts 15:1-11

68. A complete Christian life includes worship, community, education, and service to those in need. Acts 2:42-47

69. Faith belongs in the home just as much as the church. Acts 2:46-47

70. Government led prayer is not sanctioned by Jesus. John 18:36

71. Praying for our government is commanded by scripture. 1 Peter 2:11-17

72. A disciple of Jesus is to be part of the public life of his or her country. Romans 13:7

73. Demons cut off people from the rest of the people of God. Mark 5:2-5

74. Healing requires social inclusion. Mark 5:19

75. Sexuality should be expressed within a boundaried relationship 1 Corinthians 7:9,36

76. Every follower of Christ is a priest. 1 Peter 2:9

77. Jesus was a victim of mob violence. Mark 15: 11-15

78. Jesus was killed with the help of the law of the land. John 18:30

79. The Holy Family were refugees Matthew 2:13-15

80. The Holy Family was homeless. Luke 2: 7

81. The Word of God is much more than Bible trivia. Hebrews 4:12-13

82. If it has to be proven, it can’t be faith. Hebrews 11:1

83. Jesus was killed because people who knew better did not stand up for justice. Luke 23:24

84. Jesus did not go to the cross because we were good; he went because we are loved. Romans 5:6-11

85. Compassion that leads to physical and tangible acts of assistance to the vulnerable and rejected is the norm for expressing our faith. Matthew 25:45

86. Persecution is not an excuse for withdrawing compassion, if it were, then Christ would not have died for us. 1 Peter 2:21-25

87. One can’t love God without loving other people. 1 John 4:20-21

88. No one can count the number of all who are saved. Revelation 4:11-14

89. Those inside the church need to hear the Gospel just as much as those outside of it. Revelation 22:16

90. Of course divorce is a sin, which means it can be forgiven. Matthew 19: 7-9

91. Renewal through Christ is not a one time event, but a lifelong process. 2 Corinthians 4:16

92. Being wealthy is not evidence of competence or superiority. James 5:1-6

93. Neglecting to address the physical and tangible needs of the vulnerable and focusing exclusively on the spiritual is sin. James 2:14-17

94.The best prayers are when we pray from our inner voice. Matthew 6:5-6

95.Jesus is inviting you to be in relationship with him. Revelation 22:16-17

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