Where did the idea of “civil rights” come from? Some people believe it was a Western invention. I don’t know about that. The ancient Romans played an influential role in shaping Western thought and it was Aristotle himself who said, “some races are born to be slaves.” Can we really say “civil rights” are a Western ideal?
Early in Genesis, God makes a powerful comment:
“...from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being” (Gen. 9:5).
What was God saying? He’s saying, “I’m going to hold you accountable for your treatment of your fellow man.”
One of Martin Luther King Jr.’s chief motivations for his civil rights work was the Bible. In his sermon entitled, “The American Dream,” King said this: “There are no gradations in the image of God. Every man from a treble white to a bass black is significant on God’s keyboard, precisely because every man is made in the image of God…This is why we must fight segregation with all of our nonviolent might."
There are no gradations in the image of God. King absolutely right.
It applies to race and it also applies to human capacity. The Western world lacks this in the way in which the unborn, special needs, and the elderly are treated.
A few weeks ago, CBS reported that close to 100% of expecting mothers in the country of Iceland who receive a positive test for Down syndrome are terminating their pregnancies.
The network tweeted, "Iceland is on pace to virtually eliminate Down syndrome through abortion."
Actress Patricia Heaton, from Everybody Loves Raymond fame, took to Twitter with a reply saying, "Iceland isn't actually eliminating Down Syndrome. They're just killing everybody that has it. Big difference.”
When I think about the issues of racism and abortion, I wonder what a community would be like if everybody regarded every human life as sacred regardless of race, stage of development, or capacity. This is the way life was meant to be.
The short answer is ‘no’. Christians are not required to tithe. Why?
The ‘tithe’ was part of the Mosaic Covenant (See Lev. 27); the covenant God made with Moses and the people of Israel at Mt. Sinai. Galatians 3, and elsewhere, show us we are no longer under that covenant. We are under a ‘new’ covenant. Additionally, the tithe was tied to the tabernacle and temple and the Levitical priesthood. We don’t have the tabernacle, temple, or Levitical priesthood. Jesus is our temple.
Now some people may point to Matthew 23:23 and say, “See, Jesus endorsed tithing!” But pay attention to details. Jesus himself lived under the Mosaic Law so his indirect commendation of tithing was for those still living under the Mosaic Law. We are not.
We have to look deeper into the New Testament to see what it has to say about tithing. And while Christians are not required to tithe, 2 Corinthians 8-9 do require us to give sacrificially and generously. For most of us that means giving away at least 10% of our income.
This is why our family has committed to giving at least 10% of our gross household income to whatever church we have attended. Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 8-9 make it very clear, Jesus paid an exorbitant price to save me from my sins. How can I not respond in kind with sacrificial and generous giving to the church he loves so dearly!
Modus operandi is a Latin phrase meaning, “the typical way of doing something.” You might be someone who struggles to get anywhere on time. Your modus operandi or ‘MO’ is to be late. You might be someone who is incredibly gifted with attention to detail - that’s your typical way of doing things; that’s your modus operandi.
My modus operandi is to, with gusto, cheer for all Minnesota sports teams, especially the Minnesota Vikings. So, Packer nation, I just have one thing to say, “Game on!”
So here’s what I want you to see from Genesis 1 about God’s modus operandi. Look at vv. 1-2:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Gen. 1:1-2).
Literally, the text says the cosmos was ‘waste and void’. It was dark and without form. Compare that with what you have at the end. At the end, you have galaxies and solar systems, continents, oceans, and seas. You have plants, fruits, and vegetation. Birds, fish, and animals. And all of it is declared to be good.
Why did God create the way he did? He could have, in a single day, made everything to be complete and good. Why does God create by moving from formlessness to something ordered? From waste to something good? God is setting for us his modus operandi. God is setting for us a pattern of expectation. This is his typical way of working. He takes what is chaotic and brings order to it. He takes what looks like waste and fashions something beautiful from it. This is the kind of God he is. And it’s really good news for you.
You might be living through a state of chaos and waste right now. Maybe the chaos and waste is physical. You’ve been ravaged by some ailment or injury. Maybe it’s mental. You’re mind isn’t what it once was. Maybe it’s relational. You’ve been wounded by someone. Maybe it’s financial. You don’t where the money is going to come from to pay the next set of bills. Your experience of life right now is characterized by chaos and waste. The kind of God portrayed in Genesis 1, is what you have to cling to.
God’s MO is to take that which is waste and void and fashion it into something ordered and beautiful. God’s MO may not be to snap his fingers and everything becomes beautiful in fractions of a second. That’s not how he puts together this kingdom in Genesis 1. He takes his time. He moves methodically. Why? God isn’t interested in just getting to the destination. He wants us to watch him. He wants us to see how he gets there. So pay close attention to the small pieces of evidence that show you day 1 of creation has begun and thank him for it. And when you see more evidence that perhaps you’ve moved on to day 2, you thank him for it. Look closely, look carefully, his MO is to bring order out of chaos and beauty out of waste and to do so methodically so you can appreciate every act he takes.