“What is truth?” Pontius Pilate’s infamous question to Jesus during his trial seems sarcastic, maybe even cynical. Was he asking to find ultimate truth? No, probably not. But it’s a legitimate question—what is truth? Is it real, or just an illusory concept? Are there really absolutes as opposed to just ideas? And what is Christ’s kingdom of truth?
The cross has always been the symbol of the Christian faith. Everyone knows it symbolizes the death of Christ. In the historical record, it was the means by which the Romans executed their criminals. So what did Jesus mean when he told us to carry our cross? In the popular view today, it’s a metaphor for any form of discomfort, like having to put up with people we don’t like, or having a responsibility we really don’t want. But in the Bible, in its simplest and purest form, the cross means unjust suffering and death.
In the ancient world and even in many parts of the world today, farmers used animals to do the heavy work of plowing fields, carrying loads, and pulling carts. When two animals were used, they were joined together by a wooden yoke. Jesus used this most familiar farm implement to describe the relationship he has with those who trust him.
God established boundaries that define the world we live in and provide structure to our lives. They keep us living in the real world, not an imaginary world of our own making. God’s commands are ancient boundaries that keep us on safe paths and provide blessing in our lives. But those who cross them or ignore them do so at their own peril. God set spiritual and moral boundary stones as monuments that, even today we can get our bearings on to keep us on the right paths.
What kind of sins can God forgive? Is there any sin that God cannot forgive? What is the “unforgivable sin” we read about in the Bible? Is this the same as the sin against the Holy Spirit, or the eternal sin that Jesus warned us about? Many people wonder about these questions, and they all have fairly simple answers.
Many people are confused about the causes of poverty. As humans, we have a tendency to prejudge people and the cause of their condition. The more liberal sector of society believes most poverty is caused by injustice. Many conservatives, and even some religious people, believe people are poor mostly because they’re irresponsible. But both Scripture and observation show there are many causes of poverty. Before we address solutions, we must understand the causes.
As Jesus was dying, he uttered his final words from the cross: “It is finished.” The sacrifice that provided for the salvation of the world was complete. Christ gave himself—his own life—as payment for our sins. But did Christ’s sacrifice apply only to those after his death? Did Jesus come just for us today? What about those who lived before his death and resurrection? Could those people also find salvation? If so, on what basis?
Jesus taught that to enter God’s kingdom, we must become like children. Clearly, he was not teaching that we should be like little children in every way, but only in certain ways. What are the attributes of children that Jesus was referring to?
What is most important to you in life? What is the most important thing you can think of? Jesus Christ taught that loving God is the highest of all priorities, the greatest command in God’s law. According to the Bible, we were made to be connected to God in a love relationship. But what does it mean to love God? How can we love a Being we can’t see? Loving God means giving him ourselves—our heart, soul, mind, and strength—all that we are.
How do we become better people? How do we make a better society? Will the coming of a new year magically bring the changes we want in us and others we live with? No, nothing really changes with the changing of the calendar. If we are the same people, then there is no reason to think that society will change. We are still sinful and need God and his transforming power. But how can we change?