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A Delighted God

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…he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Psalm 18:19

Whenever I see my granddaughter, I can’t help smiling. She brings joy to my heart. Usually she is smiling herself because she is a cheerful child who is generally happy. But even if she is asleep or sad, I still love to see her, and I will do what I can to see her smiling again. I am delighted in her because she is my granddaughter. She has no other claim upon me, and I don’t care whether she has been naughty or nice, whether she was sassing her mother or defying her father just a few moments before, or whether she just picked her nose or wet her diaper. Just knowing that she is my granddaughter is enough to make me smile when I see her.

Imagine a God who delights in you like that, a God who beams at you and makes a fuss over you whenever you come around. David imagined such a God, and he goes on to tell us why God is so delighted in him. It is because he is righteous, blameless, faithful, pure, and humble. God delights in him because he is such a good person. I could infer that if I am a good person, God will be delighted in me as well.

The problem is I am not a good person.

That is why I regard the good news as such good news. Jesus told those who were not good that God was nevertheless delighted in them. In fact, God imputed the righteousness of his perfect Son to everyone who believes in him so that everyone can be a delight to God. Not only does God delight in me, he delights in me as if I were Jesus, the one about whom he said, “This is my Son whom I love. In him I am delighted” (Matt 3:17, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22).

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abuse of power America politics voting

Voter Fraud

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In 2016 Donald Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million votes. In 2020 he lost again, this time by 5 million. The first time he was so incredulous at having lost, so disturbed by evidence of his own unpopularity, that he formed a commission in 2017 to uncover the massive fraud that he claimed must have taken place. That commission came up with nothing. This time Trump lost not only the popular vote but the election, yet his go-to response is the same: there must have been massive voter fraud. Trump cannot conceive that a sizable majority of Americans have rejected him as President. Starting from the premise of his own popularity, he can only conclude that the same unspecified, shadowy forces that have undermined his presidency at every step have now succeeded in undermining his re-election. There must be voter fraud because everybody loves him.

The only thing missing is evidence.

In fact, the Trump administration’s own Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has issued a report stating that the 2020 election was the most secure ever. It’s claims are backed by Secretaries of State from all 50 states. While there are instances of errors and mishandling and even the occasional attempts at fraud, there is nothing of a scale to actually influence the outcome of the Presidential election. In 2017 Trump claimed that millions of votes were fraudulent, for he lost the popular vote by millions. Having lost again, he is making the same unsupported claims, but this time around election officials across the country have taken extraordinary measures to safeguard the election. It is simply not possible for voter fraud to exist on a scale consistent with a Trump win in 2020. He needs to acknowledge his loss and transfer the reigns of power peaceably and with whatever integrity he can muster.

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aphorisms bible Christians jesus theology

Jesus is the Question

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Jesus is the Answer.

Popular Christian saying

This saying has always troubled me. It’s not that I doubt its truth; I do believe that Jesus is the answer to all our most intractable problems, because our worst problems are caused by human selfishness. It is rather the finality of the sentiment that I find troubling, the way it forestalls all further discussion and brings dialogue to an end. Once you say, “Jesus is the answer,” there seems to be nothing left to say. Oh, you could say, “No, he isn’t,” and I could say, “Yes, he is,” but that kind of interchange doesn’t even rise to the level of argument, let alone dialogue.

Saying “Jesus is the answer” is like saying “Science is the answer.” Either may well be true, but neither gets you one whit closer to a solution to the particular predicament we are in at the moment, whatever it may be.

In the stories of the bible, God rarely answers questions. In fact, he’s usually the one asking the questions. From the poignant “Where are you?” in the Garden to the overwhelming barrage of unanswerable questions with which God brow-beats Job to the plaintive cry of Jesus on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” God appears as someone who asks rather than answers questions.

John begins his gospel portraying Jesus as the Word that became flesh and lived among us. We are accustomed to think of that word as a declaration, an announcement of divine purpose. But what if Jesus is not the answer? What if he is the question? What if God became a man to ask us what we want? Do you want to get well? What do you want me to do for you?

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