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technology and faith

I’m incredibly privileged to have been asked to participate in two upcoming IFES events that, in different ways, explore some of the issues surrounding technology and faith.

The first is a Bible Study Consultation, bringing together about 20 students from around the world, to explore the impact of changes in society, culture and technology on Bible study, and asking questions about how we can best equip the next generation of students to ‘rightly handle the word of God’.

The second is the next IFES World Assembly, where one of the Word and World sessions will be exploring the impact of technology on faith, and seeking out the challenges and opportunities presented. I’ve already done a fair amount of thinking around this session, in dialogue with friends in Sri Lanka and New Zealand, but still have more work to do. Will post some of these thoughts soon.

As I think more about these topics in the coming weeks and months, I will try and blog a little more, and would welcome comments, thoughts and suggestions… I want to hear from you, to help provoke more discussion and help me represent other perspectives at these events.

Isaiah 55.

Something I regularly struggle with is going beyond accepting what Jesus did to take the punishment I deserve, to accepting all the good things he lavishly gives in its place; I don’t fully understand why I can accept the bad things taken away, but not the good things given… something I’ll probably be wrestling with for years to come.

So it was great to be reminded at home group this evening, as we looked at Isaiah 55, of all the positive things Jesus has saved us for, and the reasons for doing this. God loves us lavishly and in abundance, that we might be satisfied by him and in him and, by delighting in him, display his worth and praise him.

“Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.”
- verse 2b

“…let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
- verse 7

“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”
- verse 12

Emphasis mine.

Why Christmas?

Notes from a sermon: Sunday 5 December, Peter Comont, Magdalen Road Church

Why Christmas?
Because our need is very great.

Matthew 1:18-25

Shame and glory: v18-20

The passage contains elements of both shame and glory.
Shame: Mary is found to be pregnant, and by the time the child is born, she is still not married to Joseph. Even in the (adulterous) relationship between David and Bathsheba, they are married by the time the baby was born. In the eyes of those looking on, this was a very shameful situation.
Glory: This child is not the product of an illicit relationship, but of a miracle of God. When Abraham and Rachel are promised a child, beyond their years, it is still conceived in the normal way. With Mary, the beginnings of this life are even more miraculous and glorious.

A new kind of salvation: v 21

‘…you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’
‘…he will save…’ – God will save? This baby will save? Or are they the same? Is this baby, God?
‘…his people…’
‘…from their sins.’ – Most people have Old Testament hopes of salvation, often centred around the political. “What’s wrong with the world?” Me. Sin. We make decisions. Some of them are wrong. We sin.

Saved from the penalty for sin. This morning I think I saw someone stealing a bike, which piqued my sense of justice – for the person whose bike was being stolen (the offended) to see justice brought to the thief (the offender). And on Friday we were a few minutes late getting back to our car in town, and I was worried that we would arrive to find a parking ticket stuck to the windscreen. The penalty would have been just, but I still didn’t want it. Sin doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There are consequences for sin. And the one who is most offended is God. Sin deserves just punishment. Jesus comes to save me from that penalty, by paying it himself.

Saved from the tyranny of sin. If your life is not changed, you have no right to be called Christian. Whilst we continue to sin, the Holy Spirit helps us to battle with sin, and to cultivate fruits of the Spirit.

Saved, finally from sin itself… “I have been saved; I am being saved; I will be saved.” James Akin

A new kind of saviour: v 22-23

These verses make absolutely clear…  ‘Immanuel, God with us.’ God himself, made man.

This week, a leader of Oxfordshire County Council, Keith Mitchell, caused anger from a comment he tweeted about student protesters. Keith Mitchell wrote on his twitter feed: “County Hall invaded by an ugly, badly-dressed student rabble. God help us if this is our future.” Whilst Mitchell probably used ‘God help us’ in a sense of despair, it belies his conviction that, were he in charge, things would be different. The truth is, we need God’s help whoever is in charge. And the good news of Christmas is that God has helped us. He came to meet our deepest need.

Can you see that this is your most fundamental need? Have you sought Jesus as your answer? Is there a better analysis of the problem, or does Jesus get to the bottom of it?

When the Times of London once asked several of Britain’s leading intellectuals what they thought was the problem with the world, the celebrated Catholic journalist G. K. Chesterton sent back a postcard response: “I am.”