God is always up to something. It’s impossible to figure out exactly what, but sometimes you can just feel it in the air. Newness is in His nature. He makes all things new, and when they get old, he makes them new again. That’s why renewal is a process…it never ends. We’re always being made new, discovering new things, becoming new people, going new places, and developing new understandings about who God really is and what He’s doing in the world.

There is something magnificent, mysterious, and breath-taking about the universe. The way it’s all held together by a God who knows exactly what to do and precisely when to do it. I often lie on my hammock in the backyard and gaze into the sky at night and think to myself, “God is a wonderful artist… He never needs an eraser because he doesn’t make mistakes.”

Every time I look into the sky, it’s a brand new sight. I’ve never seen the same sky twice. He always gives a fresh perspective. Look out your window. Have you ever considered that you’re the only one in the entire universe with the view you have right now. Move an inch and the view changes. Have you ever considered that your view is always new.

Some people allow the ‘newness’ of God to slip through their hands. They get old and start complaining. They forget about all the great things God has done. In this condition their hunger for the presence of God departs and without even realizing it they stop living life to the fullest. They dry up and eventually breathe their last breath. I never want to be that person. I want to live in the newness of the life God has created for me, and I want to experience every last drop of it.

We are created to know God and to be known by God… to fall deeply in love with who he is and participate in all he does. For ‘newness’ to apply, we must allow the awareness of God’s presence to move from our brain to our heart. In the heart we experience renewal of the entire person. It’s where we learn to feel again; it’s where we rediscover all the things that make life worth living. Life cannot be understood in past-tense. It has to be lived in the present with an eye on the future.

Things are always changing… always moving forward. It’s God’s design; we might as well embrace it. Every person changes seasons in their lives; they can never recapture what once was. They have to change. If not, life will leave them and then they simply wait to die. Seasons of life remind us all that we must keep changing, there is no avoiding it.

You get one life, make it count. Give God everything you’ve got. Trust him in the good times and the bad. Realize he is always near, and always willing to make things new again. And he does t’s your job to spread newness like the flu. Give it to everyone you come in contact with… Be contagious with newness!

Relationships… followers of Christ are called to relational living. This means that we continually strive to love one another the way God loves us. It means everyone is welcome at the table. It means there is no room for criticism and exclusion. No one is left out. Everyone is included, regardless of race, class, creed, faults, imperfections, social status, or income bracket.

Somewhere along the way, some people have missed the spirit of the One who embodies love and truth, and instead they have, like the Pharisees, taken up with the spirit of the Law. The spirit of legalism shows the world that rules matter more than relationships.

In rediscovering a proper biblical interpretation of Jesus’ message it’s important to remember that Jesus’ ministry was at odds with the religious establishment of his day. Those that were considered spiritually orthodox are the same ones that labeled Jesus a ‘blasphemer.’ Like many reformers throughout history, Jesus was declared a heretic and executed. Ironically, yesterday’s heresy, often becomes today’s orthodoxy.

All of us interpret scripture with certain prejudices. Be careful. We all view of life through various cultural lenses stemming from personal experiences, places of origin, and family value systems. Be careful. We all bring a blend of political ideas, personal discrimination, and religious perspectives to the table when interpreting and applying the scripture. Be careful.

We can’t forget… Scripture must be interpreted through the Spirit of Jesus. When you read any passage, you must ask yourself, How is this like God as he is reveled in Jesus? Jesus clarified the moral character of God and this is the same window through which we must interpret the Bible. The way of Jesus is a different way: different from anything we’ve ever seen before. God is like Jesus and always has been. His followers willfully choose life over condemnation.

After the woman was caught in the act of adultery, the Pharisees took her to Jesus and insisted she be given over to what the Law of Moses commanded. Let me ask, how many people has the church ‘stoned’ through the years in the name of Jesus? How often do people who call themselves Christians judge someone with the letter of the Law and not the spirit of the Word?

Don’t allow religion and rules to matter more than relationships. At the end of the day right orthodoxy does not equal being right with God if you don’t love your neighbor. Without relationships, rules are nothing more than sin management. God didn’t call us to management… He called us to relationships.

God With Suffering
The term “theodicy” comes from two Greek words: theos = “god” + dike = “justice.” This word commonly refers to an attempt to resolve the occurrence of evil in the world by reconciling God’s characteristics of being all-loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing. To find an answer, we essentially have to identify God in human suffering. Many people have a hard time watching human beings experience undeserved pain and tragedy, and then trying to reconcile that an all-powerful God really cares.

So where is God in the pain and suffering of life? In answering this question we must always start with Jesus. Everything starts with Jesus; he is the perfect reflection of an all-loving God. He came to earth to show us what God is like and to also show us what we should be like.

Unlike many evangelicals, Jesus never tells people who are suffering that it’s because they did something wrong or have unconfessed sin in their life. When Job lost everything and sat in sackcloth and ashes, the best thing his friends could have done was keep their mouths shut. When they started talking about “why” Job was suffering, they only showed their lack of understanding pertaining to the nature of God. What they failed to see in the midst of Job’s suffering was God’s.

Jesus always starts with compassion. He makes wrongs right and justifies suffering and pain with love and mercy. What we learn from Jesus is that God always sides with the one who is suffering. He’s not out in the distant universe somewhere picking at people and making them feel worse than they already do.

God is on the side of the sufferer, and we cannot find an exception to that in scripture. Notice the Disciples and the Pharisees demanded answers as to why bad things happen to some people and not others. Interestingly Jesus never spoke to the reasons “why.” Actually, Jesus always blew off the questions of “why” and instead focused on the response: “What can we do about it?”

When Hurricane Katrina blew into Louisiana, or when a massive earthquake devastated Haiti, unlike some evangelical voices that declared God’s judgment on the people in these areas, we should respond like Jesus by saying, “What can I do to help?” The scripture indicates that God grieves about human suffering even more than those who are experiencing loss.

Think about it, when Jesus responded to a widowed woman who had lost her son, when he ministered to a Roman soldier whose servant was sick, when he heals the blind, crippled, and diseased… He always, always, always extends compassion, not judgment. God sides with the suffering and his response is always marked with love and compassion.

“God is like Jesus.
God has always been like Jesus.
There has never been a time when God was not like Jesus.
We have not always known what God is like—
But now we do.” ~Brian Zahnd


(Sources: Brian Zahnd; Shane Claiborne; Jürgen Moltmann)