As we make our way through The Whole Story, we have now arrived at the final book in the Wisdom of Israel, the Song of Songs.
We have defined wisdom in these five books—Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Psalms, and now the Song of Songs—as applied skill and competence in our living. And this kind of wise living is only possible if we recognize that God has hardwired wisdom into the world, that there is an inner logic to the way everything works, and the only way we will discover how to live according to the inner logic and the way he has hardwired it is by listening to, obeying, and following the Creator and Designer of it all.
Furthermore, we have to do this in every single area of our living. We must find the path of wisdom, leaving no area of life untouched.
I was read this comment on our culture this past week:
“In the name of advertising and entertainment, human bodies become commodities and people become products. Ironically, true romance and intimacy vanish in an age when everything becomes sensual.”
True romance and intimacy vanish.
What I grieve for our culture, and my neighbors, and my family members, and our children, and the generations to follow is the loss of beauty that is bound up in true romance: desire-satisfying, soul-feeding, thirst-quenching, pleasure-producing, God-glorifying, self-sacrificing, other-focused—TRUE—physical and relational intimacy.
That kind of romance is truly beautiful. And in a world engorged on sensuality, we have lost our ability to taste and see true beauty.
Which is why—now more than ever—we need the Song of Songs. For in the Song, the God of the Bible, in the Bible, confronts our culture and shows us where we have been wrong. He presents to us a picture of true beauty.
Friends, by God’s grace, he gave me the eyes to see and the ears to hear and the heart to feel—more than on any previous reading—the sheer beauty of the Song. Here we find two people enraptured with each other. Here we find two people satisfied by each other. We find joy, and delight, and pleasure, and laughter, and ecstasy, and celebration. We find vulnerability and safety, security and affirmation, gratitude and self-sacrifice, humility and leadership. Here we find the power and importance of the private and intimate, and the critical role of public displays and communal accountability and affirmation.
The Song holds up the beauty and meaning of a love relationship and a celebration of the marriage covenant that is spiritual, emotional, physical, vivid, highly charged, and erotic. And it is held up as a contrast to what our culture is holding out to us, and particularly our young people, in books, movies, and social media.
It is highly charged, without being tawdry.
It is frank and forthright, without being sophomoric.
It is erotic, without being graphic.
Friends, for a culture—outside and inside of the church—desperate, and longing for physical and relational intimacy, the Song of Songs is a major pathway of wisdom to living this aspect of a good life. It is so helpful that I have never been as tempted as I have this week to stop The Whole Story and stay in the Song for the next ten weeks. We need it that badly.
But, I kept it to one sermon, which you can listen to here. And if you’d like to study it further, I commend the Song of Songs page over at the Bible Project. I hope that you find the sermon thought-provoking, and that it creates conversations with not-yet-believers and other Jesus-followers, as we continue to make more and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ, together.
One final reminder—if you’d like to be ready for this coming Sunday at Calvary, please read the book of Jeremiah, as we dive back into the prophetic works of the Old Testament.
Seeking the Beautiful,
Samuel Johnson was born on September 18, 1709, and was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer.
How Can We Pursue A Long Repentance In The Same Direction?
This last Sunday, in Calvary’s morning gathering, we studied the book of Haggai together as part of God’s Whole Story. Together we heard God speak through his prophet to his people after the exile, challenging them to remain faithful and to rebuild the temple.
The book of Haggai is the second shortest book in the Old Testament. It has 4 oracles (think: sermons), 2 chapters, and about 1,100 words.
In the book of Jeremiah we read of God’s intention for Daniel and all of those with him who have been exiled from the land of promise.
We are in a sermon series called The Whole Story, so named because we started off with the assumption, and belief really, that the whole Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus. Each and every book is a bit like a chapter that contributes to the overall story that God is telling.
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.