“My very special sheep are [doing three things:] listening to my voice, and I am getting to know them experientially [they are experiencing me], and they are walking around with me. And I am giving them, in turn, [three realities]: deep, lasting Life, and they will never ever perish, and no one will ever snatch these people out of my grip.” We learn, here, several characteristics of Jesus’ True-Church people from this two verse (3+3) description of them:
1. They are the people who, first and most fundamentally, listen to Jesus’ voice. 2. They are the people whom Jesus is getting to know, experientially. 3. They are the people who are starting to walk with and to follow Jesus. 4. They are the people, therefore, who are receiving deep, lasting Life from Jesus. 5. They are the people who are given the special assurance of an indefectible security. 6. They are the people (he repeats for emphasis) who are forever safe in Jesus’ grip. …
The Johannine Jesus’ present description of his special sheep – his true Church – is deceptively simple. These people “do” three things, which are really the inhaling and exhaling of a living faith in any relation: They listen to Jesus’ voice, he gets to know them (i.e., they experience him), and so they start to walk with him. To these simplest of human responses, Jesus promises his two most personal gifts – getting to know you (or what John’s Gospel calls “Life”) and keeping care of you (safety or, theologically, salvation). This proposal is hard to turn down. Who would not want to live with a friend like this?
“Do you have a difficult time saying no? I do. … But at some point, you realize that you can’t say yes to everyone else. Attempting to do so puts at risk your own agenda and the things that matter most.”
Problem: You’re a busy Bible class teacher or preacher who wants to brush up on some of the latest understanding of scholarship as to what life was like in New Testament times, but don’t have the time to wade through a host of journal articles or academic-style works. You demand quality scholarship, but footnotes be gone. Solution: Make A Week in the Life of Corinth by Ben Witherington a part of your evening reading for a couple of weeks.
Problem: You’re looking for something that has a fresh, unique approach to it to use as the foundation for a Bible class study. It wouldn’t hurt to have a couple of dozen pictures in it, either. Solution: Utilize A Week in the Life of Corinth by Ben Witherington as a resource the next time you work through 1 & 2 Corinthians.
Problem: You wish fellow church members understood more of the background of life as depicted in the New Testament so they would have a better grasp of how to understand and interpret Scripture. The thing is, you know they’d never even crack open a book about historical backgrounds and the Bible. What to do? Solution: Suggest they read A Week in the Life of Corinth by Ben Witherington and give away a couple of copies to key people whom you know to be book lovers.
Problem: You’d like to turn your teen onto reading Christian books. The thing is, you don’t know what to get, you just know whatever it is simply must have short, page-turning chapters in it or it’ll never get read. Solution: Get them a copy of A Week in the Life of Corinth by Ben Witherington and leave it in their room without comment.
Problem: You’d like to see the ladies book club at the church of which you’re a part read something besides the standard fare of typical “Christian” fiction. And it can’t be long either; no more than 160 pages. Solution: Suggest reading A Week in the Life of Corinth by Ben Witherington whenever it comes your turn to suggest the next book for the group to read.
Problem: You’re a parent who home-schools your children and you’re always on the look out for interesting, reliable, and accessible resources to supplement your work. You use your imagination and creativity as a home-schooler and you like works that give evidence of the same. Solution: Add reading A Week in the Life of Corinth by Ben Witherington to your curriculum.
“Thirty-six percent of young people surveyed said they didn’t feel free ‘to ask [their] most pressing life questions in church.’ That’s a problem. Providing a space for open intellectual inquiry is essential for maintaining healthy conversation with people on the margins.”
* “This is Memorial Day in the United States. It’s a great day to be an American. And a dangerous day to be a Christian. … Let’s be careful how we remember today. Let’s be careful what we remember today. There is freedom that is bought with the price of precious blood. And it could never be gained by the swords, or guns, of war.”
* “Remember that violence always disrupts shalom. Jesus died, absorbing the violence of a military machine’s ultimate weapon for insurrectionists – the cross. This death unleashes the potential for shalom once again… something war can never bring.”
* “I pray that God will give me the strength not to take up arms.” [Dietrich Bonhoeffer]
* “In the past several weeks I have been engaged with the related concepts of pacifism and discipleship in a number of ways. … As I have read, studied and mentally debated with these giants of my faith I have been forced to think, and to rethink, my understanding and my conclusions on this subject. Over the next few posts I will share with you my convictions, and the Scriptural and theological foundations which underlie those convictions.” [Paul Smith]