And he is ahead, prior to all else and in him all things hold together; and he himself is supreme, the head over the body, the church. He is the start of it all, firstborn from realms of the dead; so in all things he might be the chief.
In other words, just as condemnation came upon all people through one transgression, so through one righteous act of Jesus’ sacrifice, the perfect righteousness that makes us right with God and leads us to a victorious life is now available to all.
Writing in Premier Christianity magazine, Justin Brierley travelled the length and breadth of the USA to go behind the scenes of some of the country’s biggest churches.
Our children still remember the day we visited Saddleback in California. There was dancing, drama and singing. There were video games, themed play parks and an indoor aquarium and reptile display. They even came away with branded water bottles. But Saddleback isn’t a theme park, it’s a church.
A new song released today, Great & Glorious from singer songwriter Martin Smith.‘Great & Glorious’ is a raucous, Gospel singer-backed anthem celebrating the freedom and new life found in Jesus. “Great & Glorious is the sound of joy,” says Martin. “If I were leading an army, this would be our battle song… that love conquers all and ‘wonder’ holds back the enemy.” The song comes from a new studio album, ‘Iron Lung‘, coming in May.
Holy, holy sound / This is a holy, holy sound When the room begins to shake / When all hell begins to break Now the dead are gonna rise / As we lift our voices high… God, great and glorious…
Sexuality is a beautiful and creative force only when it is an expression of agape, a Greek word that means other-centred, self-giving, committed love. God is agape (1 John). At some point we severed sexuality from agape and legitimised the category of eros and its derivative, erotica. In the classical world, Eros was a demonic god focused only on self-centered and self-servicing power in which the others were a means to the end of self-gratification (think pornography) and a fulfilment of the yearning toward wholeness (think infatuation). True love finds its fulfilment in the other and is, therefore, never blind. Infatuation is purposefully blind, finding its fulfilment only in the self and self-need. So it shouldn’t be surprising that the word eros does not appear in Scripture, and when it appears in theological conversation, it stands in opposition to agape.
Pornography (like infatuation) is obviously non-relational; it is an imaginary relationship that requires none of the risks of a real one. In fact, it is the opposite of knowing.