Thursday, 29 May 2008

Leipzig Hochschultage

The SMD student group at Leipzig University is in the middle putting on a week of events call the Hochschultage, where the basics of Christianity are explained. I had the pleasure of helping them out behind the scenes last year - was an awesome week. Have a look at the webite if you get chance, will probably be some pictures up at some point!

I've also started a new blog in German, with the hope of practicing and improving my language. Some of the stuff from here will be translated up there, as well as a few other bits and peices. If you know any german, please feel free to correct my language mistakes!

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Exciting Germany find

In my usual crazy manner I decided to visit my friends in Germany a few weeks back - unfortunately it meant cutting my exam leave that bit shorter... On the plus, as well as having a really great time, I discovered a website called purpose driven life. The website has a daily devotional (a little reminder), reminding you of what it means for you to be a Christian in different situations. There's the option to read them on the website or to sign up and receive via email. My only qualm is its seemingly slightly erratic use of bible translations (switches between literal and more colloquial translations - nothing too heretical though!). Overall however, the content seems generally quite good. My thanks go to Johannes Fischer for this one.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Lessons from the Judges

Time seems to be going past pretty quickly - revision for the finals is well underway, gonna be a little touch and go though. However in the grand scheme of things there are more important things!

Recently I've been working my way through the seventh book of the Bible, Judges. It's about the fledgeling nation of Israel under the rule of various judges (although not as we would interpret a court judge today). A pattern that keeps repeating itself is that no judge can keep the Israelites faithful to God - despite the many great things God had done for the nation a relatively short time previously. Even the best judges can only keep Israel faithful during their lives. The result of the Israelites continual desertion from God is invasion by those nations they were originally told, but chose not, to conquer. Each time they cry out to God for help and he reminds them of their desertion and then gives them a judge to rescue them. For what is becoming sadly predictable, soon after being rescued the rebellion repeats itself yet again...

This is until chapter 10...
Israel seems not only to have started worshipping one god of their enemies, but seem to go for any and every other god they can get their hands on. This includes pretty much all of the gods from the nations they were originally told to conquer. As usual they are invaded and suffer at the hands of a foreign nation - however this time when they cry out to God, he tells them they should go to their "new gods" for help and see what happens. The Israelites realise they've overstepped the mark big time, and for the first time in the book of Judges seem to earnestly turn back to God. God has pity on them and gives them a Judge in the unlikely form of Jephthah.

Abstract ancient history...
For many of the days I've been reading Judges it's felt like reading abstract ancient history. If the Bible is there to instruct us about God and how to be living life in light of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, the history of a rebellious minor middle eastern nation >3000 years ago seems a bit hard to tie in. However I've realised that my impatient and short sighted reading may actually be more of the problem. After 10 chapters I'm beginning to see the pattern and finally realising how this could apply to the world today and also to an impatient now-culture individual like myself...

Firstly, no human leader can save the Israelites from their rebellion from God - no matter how tactical or great a man/woman they are, the Israelites will want to serve themselves and their desires - not submit to God. Secondly, it's God that saves them. Each time they cry out to him in their distress and he sends a Judge to rescue them. Often it's not someone that would be expected to save them, however they all stand out for their trust in God.

The nature of individuals hasn't changed over 3000 years. We each want to do what is best for ourselves, often ignoring what would be best for others/society, but also more importantly what God would want (in a nihilist model their is no place for morality - yet it seems ingrained in every person). Jesus says that judgement will one day come and that like the Israelites we will reap the results of living for "other gods". We need another judge to come and save us really - however humans don't seem to cut it - even the best... Good thing God stepped in once again. Jesus, being fully human and fully God, could both lead and save. He was able to directly relate and empathise with us, yet at the same time defeat the enemy that faces us. Will we stick by this leader? He's different to the others, this time there's potential for permanent defeat of the enemy, will we choose to be part of this Israel where the surrounding nations don't pose a threat? We get the chance to, if we like the Israelites in Judges 10 earnestly turn back to living for God.

I guess a comparison for today's world and myself could be - 'will my career or studies save me, when the world is ending?'. Something I should remember as my exams rapidly approach, and the temptation to push God and serving those around me out of the equation... Will I remember what God has done for me in Jesus, or will I like the fledgling nation of Israel forget and live for me? Let's hope the former!