Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Vibe of Peter’s Letters

Peter’s two letters are vibe rich and the gist is that this is an instruction manual for the early Christians who are under threat from Rome. Tough times should be enjoyed – they give us the chance to share a little of what Jesus went through and let us put our faith in Jesus to good use. Not only that, says Peter, it’s better to suffer for doing the right thing than the wrong thing.

We are good ambassadors for God when we are nice and we should love each other. Citizens, slaves and wives should submit to governments, masters and husbands and we should always be ready to share what we know about God with other people. Church leaders should guide people enthusiastically and younger people should buy into this vibe. All troubles should be shared with Jesus and we need to be on the lookout as the Devil is always ready to jump on our backs.

The vibes we need in order to have a proper experience of Jesus are spelled out: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. Peter tells us that Jesus isn’t a fairy story – and he should know, he was there.

The vibe gets feistier in his second letter – false teachers are as worthless as wells without water and Christians who have turned their back on their faith are like dogs returning to their vomit.

Finally, we should be wary of those who tease us that Jesus hasn’t returned yet. A day to Jesus is like a thousand years says Peter, and he’ll come unannounced like a thief in the night, so it is best that he finds us on our best behaviour. We are encouraged to stay strong, not be led astray by bad people and to keep learning as much as we can about Jesus.

General vibe: Forewarned is forearmed.

Factvibe: Fifteen of the 25 verses in Jude also appear in Peter’s letters.

Before becoming God's doorman, Peter knocked out a couple of letters. And posted them.

Before becoming God’s doorman, Peter knocked out a couple of letters. And posted them.

 

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The Vibe of James

James has an ‘actions speak louder than words’ vibe. We should be doers rather than just hearers. We should look forward to the hard times because endurance is a virtue and we should pray with the rock solid belief that something will happen as a result.

The vibes about rich and poor are clear: riches don’t last so it’s better to be poor. James tells us that the vibe of true religion is to help the poor and downtrodden and to not be corrupted by the world.  We shouldn’t judge people by their appearances and should learn to control our tongue so that it spreads love and joy rather than less pleasant vibes. True wisdom is not about having a wide general knowledge and lots of life experiences, he says, it is the wisdom from God that makes us peaceful, gentle and willing to give and take. We are told that pride brings trouble with it and that too much of a worldly vibe makes us enemies with God. Humility, however, is welcome – the humble will be well treated by God.

James tells us that judgment is God’s business and we shouldn’t boast about what we will do tomorrow – tomorrow only happens through God’s will. Rich tyrants will be judged and we should all wait patiently until Jesus returns. We must suffer knowing that God is kind hearted and caring and we should pray – the prayers of good people can achieve a lot. Lots of vibes, all nudging new Christians in the general direction of harmonious and happy living.

General vibe: How to be good.

Factvibe: James became the first leader of the church after the death of Jesus.

Judging - best left to God. Thus runs the James vibe.

Judging – best left to God. Thus runs the James vibe.

The Vibe of Hebrews

Hebrews has an ‘out with the old, in with the new’ vibe. The message is aimed squarely at Jewish believers in Jesus and gives a euphoric three point demonstration explaining why his birth was the eureka moment that everything in the Old Testament had been building up to. Point one: as Son of God, Jesus is more important than any prophet or angel – even Moses. Point two: he is more important than any priest who has ever lived as he will rule forever. Point three: Jesus rescues believers from their past life and saves them from fear and death.

In the olden days, Jews sacrificed animals to try and get the same end result but the vibe of Hebrews is that Jesus is the real thing – a one size fits all sacrifice that overrules all previous ones and puts the house in order for all time. And it’s no longer about simply obeying God’s rules – the new rules are about understanding the vibe of God, which can only be achieved by following the teachings of Jesus.The vibe is that Jesus became like us so that he could understand human suffering and temptation – and then help us when we have to deal with these. Jesus is the modern day equivalent of the Jewish High Priests, he’s the one we can go to in times of trouble. There’s now no barrier between us and God.

There is an ‘accept no substitute, don’t go back, you’ve never had it so good’ vibe to Hebrews and the book ends with a who’s who of Old Testament heroes who looked forward to this day when God has finally honoured his promises. An emotional yet compelling ‘once bitten, forever smitten’ sales pitch to wavering Christians.

General vibe: Keep going.

Factvibe: Despite being bundled with all the letters at the back of the Bible, Hebrews is a sermon, and no one knows who wrote it.

Thanks to Jesus, this cow won't be killed and offered as a 'sorry' gift to God.

Thanks to Jesus, this cow won’t be killed and offered as a ‘sorry’ gift to God.

The Vibe of Philemon

Paul’s letter to Philemon has a diplomatic vibe. Philemon’s slave Onesimus has done a runner and has joined Paul’s team of missionaries. Philemon is a Christian and Paul praises him liberally before ordering him (in his role as earthly ambassador for Jesus) to welcome Onesimus back. Paul is full of praise for the slave and would like to have him with him full time. Rather than force the issue though, he does the political thing and returns Onesimus to Philemon in the hope that Philemon will let him have him back. But he’s realistic in that Philemon may want to keep his slave – if he does he’s on to a good thing as Onesimus appears to be a fine follower of Jesus.

Paul offers to pay Philemon back for anything Onesimus owes him and is hopeful that he will get back in person to visit Philemon’s church. The vibe is a mixture of flattery, confidence and political game playing – at no point does Paul even acknowledge that Philemon might give Onesimus a good thrashing for going AWOL. Thanks to the letter, if Philemon does anything other than welcome his runaway slave with open arms he becomes the bad guy. A clever, win win vibe.

General vibe: Christianity is a social leveler.

Factvibe: Happily, Philemon not only welcomed Onesimus back without so much as a spanking, he freed him from slavery as well.

Freedom. One of the several 'up' vibes of Paul's letter to Philemon

Freedom. One of the several ‘up’ vibes of Paul’s letter to Philemon

The Vibe of Titus

Titus shares much of the same vibes as Timothy. Different town, same story. Titus is on the island of Crete and has the job of finding leaders to look after the church there. He’s faced with the same kind of spiritual halfwits that Timothy has had to deal with in Ephesus and Paul dishes out the same advice as he always does – tick them off and show them the truth about Jesus by being a good example.

Paul offers some advice to give old people – be sensible, self-controlled and stay off the booze. The vibe he offers young people is for the women to love their children and husbands and for the men to exercise self-control. Slaves are also bundled in to this vibe, they have to obey their masters and not be an embarrassment to God by being cheeky or dishonest. Our past is our past, Paul says and our future is one of happiness through the vibes of self-control and godliness.

Paul reminds us that it is God’s love and not anything we have done that has saved us from our old life. Finally we should avoid pointless arguments and live useful lives full of good deeds. A positive, matter of fact, common sense vibe.

General vibe: Be a good example.

Factvibe: Titus is last heard of spreading the vibe of Jesus to the people of what is now Croatia.

Sun, sea, sand, vibes!

Sun, sea, sand, vibes!