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Help support the vision of Woodland Hills Community Church!
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Monday, April 13

Today’s Readings: Psalm 150; Jonah 2:1-9; Mark 16:1-8; Acts 2:36-41; Psalm 18:1-19

Featured Reading:
Acts 2:36-41

When you’re reading Scripture, it’s easy to get so caught up in the passage before you that you forget to place it in a larger context and explore some of the theological tensions that exist between one passage and another. I realize that some are uncomfortable seeing tensions within Scripture. I can empathize to a degree with folks who would prefer not to see such tension within Scripture. Some of my richest spiritual growth, however, has come out of exploring just such tensions. Take a tension that is embedded within Peter’s words in today’s reading from Acts. In that passage, Peter culminates his teaching by advising: “Get out while you can; get out of this sick and stupid culture” (Acts 2:40 from The Message). If you move away from Peter’s words and toward Paul’s, you get a different read on the role culture can play in one’s spiritual life. “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law… I have become all things to all [people] so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 from The Message). Paul doesn’t urge us to reject culture as did Peter; rather, Paul encourages us to use culture as a tool that can help us communicate the Gospel. So which way is it? Do we follow Peter’s advice and retreat from this sick and stupid culture, or do we follow Paul’s advice and work within the parameters of culture to communicate our faith? Given that I’m a both/and person rather than an either/or person, you’ll probably not be surprised to hear me say, “Follow both men’s advice!” The wisdom of Peter’s words is that they remind us that those of us who follow Jesus ought to have values and priorities that don’t mirror the larger culture’s values and priorities. In this way we avoid total emersion in our culture. At the same time, however, we stay connected enough with our world so that our faith is relevant to what’s going on around us. As we move beyond the Easter season and toward Pentecost, I invite you to explore what it means to live into this tension so that you might find ways of resolving that tension for yourself. Til next time…

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