Worth Reading - 4/13

Here are some links worth following this week.

1. Trevin Wax discusses the importance of pursuing Christ-likeness in all our decisions.

If consumerist eschatology tells the story of the self-made individual moving from a place of financial poverty to wealth and status and success, then the church must tell the story of an individual moving from spiritual death to new life in Christ, from immaturity in Christ to representing him well before the world. Growth in holiness, from one’s conversion until one’s death or Christ’s return, must become the dominant narrative by which Christians live.

The goal of discipleship is Christlikeness; therefore, we cannot judge our growth or success by the world’s standards but rather by God’s. The question can never be, “Are we keeping up with the Joneses?,” but, “Are we looking more like Jesus?”

2. Whatever you might think about the climate change and the environment, there should be little question that we need to clean up the amount of trash we are pushing into oceans. This article about a whale with 64lbs of trash in its belly is an indication of a problem.

Plastic bags. Rope. Pieces of nets. A drum. These items were among 64 pounds of trash found in the digestive tract of a juvenile sperm whale that recently washed ashore in southern Spain.

As Lorraine Chow reports for EcoWatch, the unfortunate whale was found dead on a beach in Spain’s Murcia region in February. When researchers at the El Valle Wildlife Recovery Center carried out a necropsy, they found that the whale’s stomach and intestines were filled with garbage, much of it plastic. According to Andrea Diaz of CNN, researchers think that the whale died of peritonitis, an infection of the abdomen; the marine mammal was unable to digest and expel the plastic waste it had consumed, leading to a lethal rupture in its digestive system.

3. Alan Jacobs reflects on the way that adults are conditioning children to  "lead our culture" and it isn't entirely a good thing.

No child came up with the phrase “I identify as gender nonbinary.” It is a faithful echo of an adult’s words.

Now, maybe you think it’s great that these children can begin to transition from one sex to another at an early age. I don’t, but I’m not going to argue that point now. My point is simply that if you say “It’s the children who are now leading us,” you’re lying — perhaps not consciously or intentionally, but it’s lying all the same because the truth is so easy to discern if you wish to do so. (As Yeats wrote, “The rhetorician would deceive his neighbors, / The sentimentalist himself.”)

This is why I think one of the most important books you could possibly read right now, if you care about these matters, is Richard Beck’s We Believe the Children: A Moral Panic in the 1980s. Beck is anything but a conservative — he’s an editor for n+1 — and his book is highly critical of traditionalist beliefs about families. And a “moral panic” might seem to be the opposite of the celebration of new openness to gender expressions and sexualities. But if you read Beck’s book you will see precisely the same cultural logic at work as we see in today’s children’s crusades.

4. Wendy Alsup asks whether Numbers 5 is bad for women:

Simply put, God is good. He does what is good. So His statutes are then worth engaging when we are unsure, because we trust His character.

Consider the context. Remember that civilization isn’t very civilized at this point in humanity. In the context of the ancient world, including outside the bounds of Israel, a husband was understood to have full authority over his wife and, if accused of adultery, would have been well within his cultural rights to divorce her without cause and in some cases even put her to death. For instance, in the Code of Hammurabi, an accused wife was expected to “jump into the river for her husband” if he similarly accused her of unfaithfulness, even in the absence of evidence.

Not so for God’s people. In God’s household, if a husband accused a wife without evidence, God commanded that the priest be called in to mediate. Do you start to hear whispers of the good news of Jesus?

The accuser with all the cultural power could not decide the consequences for himself. He had to submit to another who stood in protection of his wife and determined her guilt or innocence by process before God, not by simple suspicion or accusation.

5. David Platt gave a profound sermon at T4G on racism and the gospel and the need for repentance. It's worth your time.