A dress code for Christians?

Picture 17What is an acceptable dress code for Christians?

I believe that the authenticity of our witness to the gospel will be deeply compromised if  we dress inappropriately.

Share this dress code with others.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:12-14).

Questions for deeper reflection

  1. How does the description of  being “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved” lead to the clothing of “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”?
  2. Should we first focus on these identity descriptions to encourage people to dress appropriately?
  3. Is there any piece of clothing missing from your wardrobe? (Compassion? Kindness? Humility? Gentleness? or Patience?)
  4. Is it possible that Colossians 3:12-14 describes the clothing of the poor in spirit who inherit the Kingdom of Heaven? (Matthew 5:3)

Action points

  1. Share this with your leadership team and your Church family.
  2. Emphasize this dress code as necessary to a gospel-centered community.
  3. Look closely at Philippians 2:1-11 in light of this dress code.

Steve Cornell

Posted in Church, Community, Dress code, Gospel-centered, Local Church, Witness | 1 Comment

Finding your calling

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

Is it possible to over emphasize personal fulfillment in our callings and careers? How much of our struggle with feeling fulfilled is related to the freedom and opportunities we enjoy?

How would we talk about this subject if we lived in places or periods of history with far less freedom and prosperity?

Does our emphasis on identity, meaning and significance in calling and career make it unrealistic for most people in the world? And is it also possible that making too close a connection between calling and significance contributes to the pervasive problem with discontentment in Western cultures?

Deeper concerns

These are important questions, but my concerns go far deeper. The way that many emphasize meaning and significance might actually conflict with kingdom values.

I realize that we must bring truth to our particular contexts and that it won’t look the same in every situation. But I am grateful that there are truths…

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Can we reconcile pro-life with capital punishment?

I’ve enjoyed reading many articles on the web site RELEVANT. They usually offer helpful insights on very practical themes.

But a recent article titled, “What Being Pro-Life Means in Light of the Death Penalty” is an inadequate handling of an important subject.

The article is subtitled, “The sentencing of the Boston bomber brings up important questions of what it really means to be pro-life.”

The author endorsed a quote from NT Wright stating that, “you can’t reconcile being pro-life on abortion and pro-death on the death penalty.”

NT Wright (who is insightful on many subjects) is clearly wrong on this point. It is a surprisingly simplistic view of what the Bible teaches.

Both are pro-life positions

I wrote a newspaper column supporting the practice of capital punishment a number of years ago and a university professor in our town asked me how I would reconcile my pro-life position with my support for capital punishment. I answered by suggesting that opposing abortion and supporting the death penalty are both pro-life positions. Then I explained my answer.

The reason God ordained capital punishment was to support the sanity of life. Life is so precious (as made in the image of God) that if you murder another person, it will cost you your own life.

An enduring judicial principle

God did not merely ordain capitol punishment for Israel as something the Church can move on from. Instead, he ordained it for humanity as a judicial practice for life in the new world (Genesis 9:6).

It may seem strange that of all the things God could have focused on for Noah, he chose capital punishment as one of them. A primary reason for this is that God judged the world during the days of Noah partly because violence filled the earth. To restrain violence, God ordained a just punishment for murders. There is no reason to believe that this function of justice is no longer instituted by God.

A closer look

Have you seen the sticker that says, “Why do we kill people who kill people to show killing people is wrong?” This might sound reasonable but it actually suggests a false dilemma based on a false comparison.

Some killing is unjust and we call it “murder.” Other killing is justified and we call it “self-defense,” in some cases, and “just punishment” in others. We should not confuse these distinctions by equating them both as acts of murder.

When God required capital punishment for premeditated murderers, He said, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God he made man.” (Genesis 9:6).

The phrase “sheds man’s blood” is used as a euphemism for two kinds of putting to death. First, it’s used for an act of murder; secondly, for the just-punishment of a murderer. The act of murder is far different from just-punishment of a murderer. One action is criminal; the other a God-ordained function of government.

But wait. 

  • Isn’t this written for Old Testament times?
  • Are we not are commanded to love our enemies!
  • What about forgiveness?
  • How can we be pro-life and pro-capital punishment?

To avoid a lengthy post, I answer these questions in a post titled, “Is capital punishment mandated by God?”

One more concern – Eye for Eye

The author of the article on Relevant wrote, “I just don’t feel that we can continue to support the punitive, eye-for-an-eye system that most of us agree that Christ would denounce.”

We need to clearly understand that Jesus would not “denounce the eye-for-an-eye system.” This is like Jesus saying, “Hey, I know God required an eye for an eye but I want to scrap that idea for a better one.”

In the personal ethics for the followers of Jesus, eye for eye was rejected. But Jesus taught this (not because the OT teaching was archaic or cruel) but because of the way certain religious leaders were trying to use this judicial standard to justify personal revenge.

Eye for Eye was given as a judicial standard. It is a punishment that fits the crime policy. It was intended to restrain the unjust multiplication of evil or uneven retribution. It remains a primary principle of most just legal systems. To study this matter more closely, see: “An eye for an eye?

Steve Cornell

Posted in Capital Punishment, Death penalty, Eye for Eye | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Do we need to ask God to forgive our sins?

ask-question-1-ff9bc6fa5eaa0d7667ae7a5a4c61330cThis question might seem odd for some people. “Of course we should ask God for forgiveness when we sin!” they respond.

But others think that asking for forgiveness is only something we should do at the time of our salvation.

What do you think about this?

Some reason that if, at the moment we receive God’s gift of salvation, Christ’s sacrifice removes the guilt of all our sins past, present, and future. Why then, it is asked, should we continue to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness?

Certain Scriptures immediately come to mind.

In Matthew 6:12, we learn that Jesus taught his followers to pray, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

Then Jesus said, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15).

We also might think of the well-known promise in I John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

How do we reconcile these statements with the clear truth that, at the moment we receive God’s gift of salvation, Christ’s sacrifice removes the guilt of all our sins past, present, and future?

My answer to this question will be offered in the next post. I’d like to hear from you first. How would you answer this question?

Steve Cornell

Posted in Confession, Forgiveness, Salvation, Walking with God | Tagged | 2 Comments

Sometimes I want Heaven now

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

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Sometimes I want heaven now. Not that I want to die and go to heaven, but I desire heaven in this life.

It was Jesus who taught us to pray: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” So is this like asking God to make things as right on earth as they are in heaven?

I admit that sometimes I want the “here and now” to blend more clearly with the “not yet.”

Perhaps my work as a pastor makes me a little more painfully aware of how much is not right in this world. To borrow the title of one of my favorite books, this world is “Not the way it’s supposed to be.”

When I say I want heaven now, I mean that I want things to be the way they’re supposed to be. Unrealistic? Perhaps. But my relationship with the God

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Dance lightly on the surface of the earth

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither” (C. S. Lewis).

“Christianity is, among other things, the wonderfully good news that this life is not our whole story… The few years that we live in this body… are a kind of pilgrimage, a sojourn, a preparatory trip on the way to something much greater. For the Christian, this present existence is provisional. He is aware that every activity he undertakes is schooling for something else—that it is all directed toward a higher end.”

“For a person whose roots have been thoroughly transplanted from the present soil into that of eternity, who dances lightly on the surface of the earth and so is ready to leave at a moment’s notice, there would be little point in dwelling on the thought of death. Sad to say, however, this mind-set is rarely to be found among those who…

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Fun with grandchildren!

Our two granddaughters having fun at Knoebels Amusement Park, Elysburg, PA. Granddaughter, McKenna, driving Pa Pa (me) in an old fashion car!11012107_10153852595212586_7265214136319780500_n11214307_10153852600442586_5727304616958522623_n

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