The Jesus Apocalypse

2 Corinthians 3:18

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

There is a veil between us and God, preventing us from seeing him clearly, until we turn to Jesus.

And this veil can only be removed by believing in Christ. (v.14)

Without this veil being removed, we are unable to understand the truth. It is Jesus who unveils the truth of God…the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. (v.14)

The revelation of God that came in the Ten Commandments was only partial. The revelation that came in Jesus Christ was full and final and complete. The complete surpassed the incomplete. The Law was not wrong or in error, but partial, only a partial revealing of God. To stay there, in the Law, entrenched in rules, enslaved to a mere book, is to have your eyes veiled, unable to really see God.

But to look to the person, Jesus, is to be free indeed, bound only by love for Him, liberated to serve Him with our whole life because we have seen the point of the Law, to that which (who) fulfilled it, and is its true meaning and purpose. Christianity is all about a Person.

Now we are able to see God, no longer through a veil—a book, a code of laws—but through the Spirit who is God.

And we come to reflect that which we most gaze at.

William Barclay says of this verse, “if we gaze at Christ, we in the end reflect Him. His image, His reflection appear in our lives. It is a law of life that we become like the people we gaze at. People gaze at a film star and then begin to reproduce the dress and mannerisms they see there. People hero-worship someone and begin to reflect the ways of that person. If we contemplate God, if we walk looking unto Jesus Christ, if we fasten our eyes upon him, it is the glory of the Christian life that in the end we come to reflect Him.



Time to Forgive

Corinthians 2:6-8

The punishment that the majority has imposed is quite enough; what’s needed now is rather that you should forgive and console him, in case someone like that might be swallowed up by such abundant sorrow. Let me urge you, then, to reaffirm your love for him.

Someone at this church had personally wronged Paul, and injured the honor and good name of the whole Corinthian congregation. Discipline had been exercised, yet some thought more severity was needed. But Paul says enough has been done, and to keep going on the now penitent man would do more harm than good.

Paul is a mature leader, not taking this insult personally, but wanting nothing more than the restoration of this man, and not to drive him to despair.

Is there someone in your life for whom it is time to forgive? Perhaps it is even long overdue.

Is it time to stop punishing someone for something done long ago, and for which they have shown, even to a small degree, that they are truly sorry?

It may be time to ask yourself what your deep motives are: Do you want to drive them to despair? Or experience healing restoration?

Comfort Delivery System

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

…the God of all comfort.

He comforts us in all our trouble, so that we can then comfort people in every kind of trouble, through the comfort with which God comforts us.

It may be helpful to view every trouble that comes our way simply as God’s “Comfort Delivery System”.

The more crap we go through in a given day, the more God is ready to comfort us in it, shaping us into His unique comforters.

Yes, we are like God’s blankies for the world.

If we allow ourselves to be comforted by Him.

This we can do by looking to God in the midst of stress, relying on Him who raises the dead (v.9), and not solely on ourselves, who cannot raise the dead…or create a universe…or do anything powerful like that.

If we don’t look to God in tough times, we typically just stew in our trouble, complaining, trying to wish it away, wondering “why me?”, all the while being of no help to anyone, perhaps even pulling others down.

I don’t think troubles are designed by God to crush us, but to stop us from relying on ourselves, as Paul writes in verses 8 and 9:

You see, my dear family, we don’t want to keep you in the dark about the suffering we went through in Asia. The load we had to carry was far too heavy for us; it got to the point where we gave up on life itself. Yes: deep inside ourselves we received the death sentence. This was to stop us relying on ourselves, and to make us rely on God who raises the dead.

Cherish Jesus

1 Corinthians 16:22

If anyone does not cherish the Lord, let them be accursed. Our Lord, come!

Not to cherish our Lord Jesus Christ is not to believe in him. Not to believe in him is to be separated from God.

Paul writes that God asks for our trust, adoration, and consecration to obedient service.

Now remember, Paul is writing to a church here. He is not saying “outsiders” have no chance. All may come to the Lord Jesus. But here is a challenge for those who are a part of the church body. To check yourself.

Do you cherish our Lord, Jesus Christ?

Do you adore him?

Is your life characterized by consecration to his work, as your station in life allows?

I sometimes wonder if we have swung the pendulum a little too far in our rejection of the hellfire and brimstone preachers of yesteryear. Have we now gone too soft on ourselves? Are we coasting through our days, giving God a leftover minute of thought here and there, missing the entire point of our lives?

Those whom we cherish we think about and talk with often.

Just a few easy, not-too-deep questions and thoughts to end this chapter…. 🙂

The Company You Keep

1 Corinthians 15:33

Don’t be deceived: “bad company kills off good habits”!

The people you are around the most have the power to ruin your character.

The force of your circle of influence is quite strong, and either reinforces your good habits, or destroys them over time.

Therefore, you want, as much as is possible for you, to spend most of your time hanging around people who also are working on the habits you have found to be worthy of attention and energy. Or as I tell our daughters, “Make friends with people you want to be like.”

It is probably obvious, but the person you want to spend the most time with is the Holy Spirit. You can do this all day long, but it is also good to get some time alone with her everyday. Then you can better guard against spending time with someone else’s interpretation of God. Best to go directly to the Source. Then you can of course check yourself with others whom you know are pursuing God out of purity of heart to make sure you’re not completely off the rails, as is easy to do the more time you spend alone. (But I find personally that it is much easier to go off the rails when I’m around a lot of people Paul would consider bad company than when I’m alone)

Being around people of like mind with the same goal in life is a big idea behind church gatherings, but sadly, I have found it rather difficult to find very many people who are intentionally cultivating the habit of prayer. When I do find someone who prioritizes prayer, I react as if I’ve just seen a unicorn…or Sasquatch…or Nessy….

Do the people you hang out with the most reinforce your good habits? Challenge your bad ones? Call you to higher habit formation?

I do want to say that it is incredibly encouraging being with people of like mind in the Spirit, and a great way to grow closer to God, witnessing different aspects of God shining through them.

Silence, Women!

1 Corinthians 14:34-35

Let the women in the assemblies be silent, for it is not entrusted to them to speak; rather let them be subordinate, as the Law also says.

But, if they want to learn anything, let them inquire of their own husbands at home, for it is an unseemly thing for a woman to speak in an assembly.


This is a classic passage of controversy. Let’s not skip it.

Trying to keep these Ripples under 300 words, we’re not gonna get super detailed here. But, hopefully we can give a brief yet helpful glimpse into some possible appropriate interpretations of this text.

Here we go.

First off, just need to say that many scholars feel that someone other than Paul added these two verses in later. Now these are not super far left non-believing scholars, but ones who I believe love God, and who I refer to fairly often. A couple of (very brief) reasons they believe these verses were added in later: a) There is a disruption of flow and language from verse 33 to 36, as in, it seems verse 33 should flow right into 36. b) Some old manuscripts have verses 34 and 35 in a different place (after 40), and a fourth century manuscript has an editorial mark meaning either these verses are questionable themselves or their placement is in question.

So there’s that.

But what if Paul did write these verses, and placed them here, as many also believe?

The first thing that jumps out is that Paul wrote in this very same letter (11:5) that a woman needs her head covered when she is praying or prophesying in the public assembly. So Paul fully expects women to be speaking in the public assembly.

What gives? Why would he later write for the ladies to be silent?

It seems there was a specific issue at the church of Corinth at this time with prophesying and tongues getting out of hand and confusing people. It could be that the women, even more than the men, at this church were disrupting the gatherings, and it is always of utmost importance to Paul that the assemblies are orderly and without unnecessary confusion for the sake of everyone to be strengthened and  to grow in Christ.

It’s also possible from the original language this letter was written in that the women were “chattering” and asking questions that were derailing the worship gatherings. In the east at this time, like it or not, the women did not have the privilege or access to education and learning that the men did. Therefore, there may have been a simple problem of rabbit trails.

It’s interesting to note that Paul here and elsewhere actually advocates that the women learn. Paul is among the most progressive of ancient writers on the subject of women’s education. Most husbands of the time doubted their wives’ intellectual potential. Not Paul. His long-range solution was for them to learn alongside the men. Very cutting edge for the first century. (See elsewhere how affirming Paul was of the ministries of Phoebe, Priscilla, and Junia!)

At the end of the day, according to the context, as well as Paul’s other writings, he was addressing a specific problem at a specific church at a specific time. There’s no plausible way to conclude that he meant for all women to be silent in all churches for all time.

OK, we’re way over 300 words here, but I leave you with a summary from a great resource, Hard Sayings of the Bible:

Paul’s operative principle for congregational life and worship is constant. Whatever hinders the movement of the gospel, causes confusion rather than growth, offends rather than encourages and strengthens, builds up the self at the expense of others—all this is contrary to God’s intention. And insofar as the women in Corinth and elsewhere in the young churches used their gifts contrary to God’s intention, the injunction to silence is an appropriate, authoritative word. The principle which underlies the injunction is authoritative for both men and women in all churches.

The Danger of Avoiding the Pain-by Joe Wendel

Today’s edition of the Ripple is written by my longest standing friend, Joe Wendel. In the basement of Northeast Baptist Church on a January Sunday in 1979, we met for the first time, and have been friends ever since. We have been through almost every phase of life together except for nursing and learning how to walk, and Joe has been a most faithful and loyal friend to me, sharpening me as iron sharpens iron for almost 40 years now! Therefore I am beyond happy to read his thoughts here today. Enjoy and be sharpened!

1 Corinthians 12:26

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.


Toward the end of Paul’s section on how the body of Christ should mirror our physical bodies is this simplistic and very “graspable” statement.

In this chapter we receive a powerful explanation as to why each person in the body of Christ may look a bit different…or behave in an odd manner.  Not everyone is a uvula!  (whisper, whisper – Boy is that uvula odd.)

If you are like me, during these explanations and exhortations you find yourself pondering “which part of the body am I?”  You see, most of us struggle with self-absorption at least a little.  My personal case is pretty severe.

Here is how my personal self-absorption goes:

Let’s say I am the right quad in the body.  I am quite good at focusing on being the best right quad I could possibly be.  Who cares about the left calf!? I have work to do here in “Right Quadsville”, and I’m going to do it right!  Of course, there is some part of me that does want the left calf to do well.  I want it to do very well, but I am not willing to think about it much because if it doesn’t do well I know I will hurt.

What this small portion of chapter 12 helps me understand is that when I “cut myself off” from the rest of the body emotionally, I may reduce the amount of my suffering in some ways.  But this lack of interconnectedness also reduces my amount of joy and rejoicing in these same ways.  And… if everyone in the body behaves in this manner, no one will be weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice.  Now that is a something worth avoiding!

Remember Me

1 Corinthians 11:26

For whenever you eat this bread and drink the cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes.

One of the things I love about Christ Church Anglican is that we partake of the Lord’s Supper every week, and recite a liturgy reminder recalling aloud the event on which our existence is based.

The Eucharist, as it is called in some traditions—a word that means thanksgiving, is a memorial filled with hope. As one of my absolute favorite teachers, Luke Timothy Johnson, says: The early Christians were not celebrating a dead guy of the past, but a powerful presence NOW.

We usually need more reminding than we need instructing. And it is beyond good to be reminded, at bare minimum weekly, what…WHO we are founded upon. The Christian Church was birthed from the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

And we remind ourselves of this within the great hope that we will someday see him face to face, as real as we see each other today. We obey Jesus by participating in this symbolic meal with other believers until we meet him in person physically.

That’s gonna be so awesome.

It’s going to swallow up all the crap in this life which we give way too much attention and stress to. Remember, stress is kind of like praying for what you don’t want. So maybe try thinking more about meeting Jesus, or the fact that he is alive, than about political ridiculosity and people not behaving the way you want them to.

We are going to see Jesus someday.

And in the new heavens and new earth, what if, with a smile of gentleness, one of his questions is, “So what did you spend most of your time thinking about while on old earth?”

Deadly American Idol

1 Corinthians 10:12

If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.

~New Living Translation

Contentment in Christ is one thing. Complacency in our Christian walk is quite another.

In the 2018 United States, I believe one of our deadliest yet underexposed idols is the idol of comfort. We worship at the altar of comfort, convenience, and ease. And it anesthetizes our once vibrant relationship with Jesus. We think we’re in and all is ok, then wonder why we fall.

If you’re not growing in Christ daily, coming closer to Him, then my concern for you is that you’re being lulled to sleep. Thinking you’re all good, with no real need for ongoing training, can be the most dangerous place of all to live.

Moment by moment, the Christian life is lived by faith only, without any human guarantee.

~C.K. Barrett