Digging Deeper into the Word Spiritual Development

Godly Leadership: Undercover Boss

Author: Rachel Kidd

What makes a Godly Leader?  

And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.  

Psalm 78:72 NIV 

When you think of a good and godly leader in your life, who do you think of? Is it a favorite teacher turned mentor, pastor, coach, or parent? For many of us, a godly leader is instrumental in our faith journeys. We all need someone who sees us and cares for us, guiding us with skillful hands.  

I think of my own spiritual mentor, a youth group leader who also happened to be my AP English teacher in high school. She has been a patient source of wisdom and guidance for the past decade and it has been such a joy to do life with her and her family. She modeled for me a life of dedicated service, humility, grace, and integrity that I am forever grateful for. She made me feel valued and loved, especially during my high school years. A career teacher who won district teacher of the year, her faithfulness to her job and her community continues to inspire me.  

 Much like the leadership I found in my teacher, King David was a godly leader. While imperfect, like we all are, Psalms tells us that David led with integrity of heart and with skillful hands. Like my teacher, he was good at his job and took his role seriously. He cared for his people, he shepherded them like a good caretaker with years of measured practice. By coupling skillful ability with true care and consideration for others, King David models good and godly leadership.    

A Model of Leadership 

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 

John 13:3-5 NIV 

Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. 

Matthew 20:26-28 NIV 

Of course, Jesus is the ultimate model of perfect, godly leadership. We can see from the life that Jesus lived on earth, that he humbled himself rather than exalting himself, no matter how much he deserved to be. He came to serve others first rather than to be served. A humble carpenter, a Nazarene, Jesus dwelled with fishermen, the sick, destitute, and the poor. He washed the feet of these, the least of these, doing the job of a servant. The Son of God became human, just to wash the dirty, calloused feet of fishermen from Nazareth.  

This scene, of Jesus on His hands and knees, washing His disciples’ feet, reminds me of a reality show, Undercover Boss. Executives go undercover and work a day in the trenches, the low-level jobs of their own companies to uncover the reality of the job and see what their employees really think about them. Often, their experiences are incredibly eye-opening and life changing. These wealthy men leave the comfort of their white-collar offices and experience the life of the everyman, the physical labor that makes up the backbone of the company.  

I just imagine Jesus, changing out of His heavenly robes and becoming not only human, but a poor Nazarene at that. Dressed in plain, homespun wool robes, Jesus left his father and throne in heaven for the toiling life of a peasant. For those who lead must first serve, rather than expect to be served.  

Jesus even made a point to wash Judas’ feet, the one He knew would betray Him, because He came to serve all sinners, to wash our feet despite our betrayals. He knew our faults, lived our life of hardships, and served us anyway. And that is what a good leader does. They don’t sit above their flock, high and mighty on a far away pedestal. They are beside us, in the trenches, knowing our struggles and serving us anyway. Like King David and Jesus, good leaders not only are skilled at their position, but they spend time with their flock and care for them well.  

Church Development Spiritual Development Studying the Bible

God and Money 

Author: Rachel Kidd

As someone who likes the finer things in life, I often consider the implications of money. What does it mean to have money and acquire wealth as a Christian? It is a sticky morality question, one with so many burrs and thorns that it seems easier to just not touch it at all.  

Money is a necessary evil in the modern world. We work hard for it, live off of it, it’s nearly impossible to imagine how the world would function without it. But, the question I ask is who do you serve? Are you a slave to your money or is it merely a tool for survival? 

 Jesus was not wealthy on earth and neither were His disciples. They were regular, peasant folks who worked physically demanding jobs. During Jesus’ ministry, they were nomadic, traveling often by foot from city to city across Israel. They were often dirty, hungry, and slept under the stars. Today, they might be van lifers that traverse the globe in beat-up vans, bathing in streams, and hiking trails. Their goal was not to acquire the most wealth, but to dwell in relationship with others and spread the gospel.  

Verses on Money  

Many of the verses on money in the gospels are found in Matthew, who was a former tax collector himself. Tax collectors at this time were notoriously corrupt, stealing from the poor and lining their own pockets. Once a hoarder of wealth, Matthew left it all behind to follow Jesus and embraced a life of pious poverty.  

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. 

Matthew 19:24 

When talking to Jesus, a rich man asks how he can be good. Jesus tells him first to follow the commandments. The man agrees and says he keeps the commandments. Jesus then says he could sell his belongings and give the proceeds to the poor, so he can follow Him. The man then leaves discouraged, because he can’t bring himself to sell his many belongings.  

He is so attached to his belongings, wealth, and status, that he chooses these over Jesus. He can’t see past his tangible, earthly things, that he turns down eternal glory in heaven. And that is what Jesus warns the disciples about, telling them that it is hard for the rich to enter in the kingdom of heaven. The poor on earth have little to lose and much to gain, striving for a reward they can’t have on earth. Yet, the wealthy are secure in their money and life on earth and find it difficult to give it up just for the promise of an intangible reward.  

The disciples all gave up their livelihoods fishing to follow Jesus. While not insignificant, their wages were likely meager. But, Jesus promises that they will be rewarded in heaven for their faithfulness with twelve thrones, where the last will be first and the first will be last.  

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 

Matthew 6:24 

Much like the rich man could not part from his wealth in order to follow Jesus, this verse tells us that we cannot be followers of more than one master. We can’t love money so much that it clouds our faith. When you serve money, your life doesn’t have room for anything else.  

Living for wealth obscures your vision, making it difficult to see where you may be hurting others, particularly the exploitation of people in industry. When the goal is simply to make as much money as possible without consideration for the human and environmental consequences, so much can be destroyed.  

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.  

Luke 6:21 

Those that understand what it means to be hungry can better appreciate feeling full and satisfied. Those who understand poverty, housing insecurity, can better appreciate being safe and comfortable. God sees people that don’t have much and promises them more in heaven. He sees their pain on earth and promises an eternal solution, one that can be more fully understood and appreciated by those who have lacked.  

The wealthy cannot truly appreciate the promise of heaven in this sense, because they are already safe and secure. While they may enjoy the richness of eternal life, they simply cannot be grateful in the same way the poor can. The ones who have struggled and suffered are going to be the most grateful recipients of this abounding grace.  

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 

Matthew 6:19-21 

Of course, money makes the world go ‘round, as they say. But, I believe that Jesus uplifted the most vulnerable and poor of us, understanding their deeper appreciation for the promise of heaven. He asks us to live in such a way that we are looking towards eternity, seeking out rewards in heaven instead of how many houses we can own or purses can line our closets. These riches can easily be lost to time, thieves, or deterioration. Our heavenly rewards for faithfulness and compassion however, are eternal and everlasting.  

As much as I enjoy nice things, I hope my focus is less on the material and more on my relationships with God and the people around me. I don’t believe that Jesus is calling us all to be nomads for Him, but rather to turn our focus outward and make sure we are serving Christ, not money first.  

Digging Deeper into the Word Spiritual Development Studying the Bible

Living Out the Fruit of the Spirit

Author: Rachel Kidd

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23  

What are the Fruits of the Spirit?  

My mom often quoted Galatians 5 to me and my little brothers growing up, often when we were whining or fighting with each other over the remote. Basically, whenever we were demonstrating the opposite of the Fruits of the Spirit, is when she reminded us of their virtue.  

And she was correct, of course, as she always is. The Fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I had them memorized as a kid, and I could still rattle out the song for you today. They’re all wonderful virtues and you;d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would argue that. Everyone wants their children to embody these traits, but the process of fostering them is the much greater challenge.  

 Instilling the fruits of the spirit in your children, or in yourself as an adult, is certainly more involved than singing a song. It requires consistency, great love, and most importantly, relationship with God. To be human is to fall short of the glory of God and the fruits of His spirit, but his Son allows us to commune with the saints. In other words, the fruits of the spirit are the harvest of a deep relationship with the Holy Spirit.  

How do you become more loving?  

John 15:12: My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 

Jesus commands us to love each other self-lessly, as He first loved us. Jesus is the perfect model of love; deep, abounding, grace-filled love that we so desperately need.  

How do you become more joyful?  

Romans 15:13. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. 

This verse tells us that God is the source of all hope, peace, and joy that can only be found in believing in Him. The Holy Spirit is the conductor of sorts, the power to imbue us with overflowing joy.  

How do you become more peaceful?  

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 

Much like Romans tells us that God is the source of peace, this verse tells us that God can unburden us from our anxieties. He has the power to take those crippling fears, doubts, and worries off of our shoulders because He cares for us. Free from anxiety, we can rest peacefully in the knowledge that our God has our back.  

How do you become more patient?  

Proverbs 14:29 Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. 

This Proverb reminds us of the virtue of patience, calling us to be slow to anger. It is of course easy to lash out when we’re upset, to hurt others when we feel hurt. I have often said things out of anger to people I love that I immediately regret. This verse warns me of this habit and reminds me of how foolish I feel after a tense argument.  

How do you become more kind?  

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 

Being kind is not being nice. It is deeper and genuine than surface-level niceties. This verse reminds us of the power of kind and encouraging words from our friends. Words have the power to tear down and destroy, but also the ability to bolster confidence and make you feel invincible. Let us use our words wisely and carefully; to be kind.  

How do you become good?  

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. 

Goodness comes from God, and how do we become more like Him? Just like our Savior forgives our sins and desires a relationship with us, so we can forgive the people in our lives. As difficult as it may seem to forgive people who may have hurt us deeply, forgiveness can lighten our own emotional burdens and improve our relationships.   

How do you become more faithful? 

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 

Sanctification, or the process through which a relationship with God changes us, involves confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness. Only God can forgive sins and only He can make us whole.  

How do you become more gentle? 

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 

Like catching flies with honey, responding to the world with gentleness is often the most effective. Not only that, but it is godly as well. To meet the cruelty of life with sweet softness is a radical way to show God’s love.  

How do you become more self-controlled?    

2 Timothy 1:7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 

Not to say that being a Christian is synonymous with timidness, this verse reminds us of the power of Christ. He emboldens us as his church with power, not necessarily physical power, but internal. His Spirit is one of careful self-control and overwhelming love and as we grow in our faith, so we flex our spiritual muscles.  

The Fruits of the Spirit do not grow spontaneously. Rather, they produce fruit from careful cultivation through a deep relationship with God. We cannot expect a full harvest of Fruit without working the land. Growing our faith, and our Fruit, requires study of the bible, fellowship and communal worship with other believers, and prayer. These are the farmers’ tools. 


What Are Gender Roles According to the Bible?

Author: Rachel Kidd 

You’ve probably heard the term before, whether in church or circulating in the news. Maybe it was political, maybe it wasn’t. It may seem complicated and overly politicized, but the concept is pretty simple.  

Gender roles are the social roles you base on your assigned sex, from the way you dress, speak, and conduct yourself with others. It is a social expectation of your identity based on your gender. And this can vary greatly depending on your age, culture, or geographic location.  

For example, when a mother swaddles her baby in a pink blanket today, most in the U.S. would assume the baby is a girl. But, before the 1940’s, a baby wrapped in pink would signify a baby boy to the average American. The color associated with baby boys and girls switched following WWII and a deliberate change by baby blanket manufacturers.1  

Much like color, gender roles are simply culturally based assumptions related to gender and can change over time due to cultural shifts. This is true in any culture, not just the U.S.  

What are the Christian beliefs on gender roles?  

Depending on the denomination you belong to, the church has a few different stances on the gender roles they prescribe to men and women.  

Complementarianism is the theological perspective that men and women have God-ordained, fundamentally different, but complementary roles to play in society, from the home to church. This belief stems from the idea that Adam was created first and Eve was created as his “help meet” and traditional gender roles as prescribed in the time the bible was written. Often in complementarian churches, men take the traditional roles and pastors and elders while women serve in women’s or children’s ministries. In the home, husbands are often the head of the household in a patriarchal model, with wives submitting to their husband.   

Importantly, complementarian theology does not place inherent worthiness on gender. Men and women both are believed to be children of God, with masculinity and femininity made to work in harmony.  

Egalitarianism is another theological perspective that men and women are partners and made equal in the image of God, therefore their roles and gifts are equal rather than complementary. They believe that men and women are equal both in worth in the eyes of the Creator and in their abilities. In this theology, gender does not dictate the roles men or women play in the church or home. Women can typically hold leadership roles in the church, including pastoral and eldership. Often husbands and wives share responsibility of the household, characterized by mutual submission. They often point to the role of women in Jesus’ ministry and how they were elevated beyond their cultural status. At the time, women could not serve as witnesses in court, yet Jesus used two women to share the news of His resurrection to the other disciples.  

Both theological perspectives on gender roles find support in scripture, depending on the interpretation and church denomination. Some typically complementation denominations include  

Orthodox traditions, Southern Baptists, and the Catholic Church. Some egalitarian traditions include the Quakers, Methodists, Lutherans, and the Presbeterian (USA) Church.  

Verses on Gender Roles 

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 

God tells us that men and women are made in his image, that we reflect the glory of the Lord in our humanity.  

He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind” when they were created. Genesis 5:2 NIV 

The bible calls male and female, Adam and Eve, blessed as members of mankind. While different, this verse notes that they share both the blessing of God their creator and the humanity He bestowed upon them.  

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28  

Often used as an explanation for egalitarianism, this verse reminds us that our identities, while not insignificant, should not hold more weight than our identity in Jesus. We are reminded that our maleness or femaleness pales in comparison to who we are in Christ.  

Wives, in the same way, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 1 Peter 3:1-2 NIV  

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.  1 Peter 3:7 NIV 

These verses in Peter describe the roles husbands and wives should play within Christian marriage, and often are used in complementarian theology. Both roles are clearly defined based on gender, with the wife acting in the submissive role and the husband as the respectful, but firm head of the home.  

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 

Ephesians 5:22-24 

Another verse often used in complementarian theology, the relationship between husband and wife is compared to that of the church and Christ. In this way, the role of both the church and the woman are defined by submission, whereas the man and Christ’s roles are defined by duty-bound and benevolent leadership.  

Regardless of your view on gender roles, whether complementarian or egalitarian, the shared belief lies in our identity as children of God; your gender does not indicate your worth as a believer, no matter your theological perspective. And that is the beauty of the gospel, that we are what Jesus says we are.  

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV 

Church Development Spiritual Development

The Importance of Dwelling in Unity

Author: Rachel Kidd

What is unity?  

Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. 

To live in unity is to be devoted, like Acts 2:42 tells us, devoted to the act of communing with others and breaking bread together. This gives us a picture of what dwelling in unity looks like, a mutual devotion to the uplift of the community, sharing meals, and praying together.  

Ephesians 4:1–3. I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 

Unity is a bond of peace that joins us together in a spirit of gentleness and patience. It is a calling of humble love, not of social climbing or competition. The unity we strive for can only be found through Christ, as the verse reminds us, in “the unity of the Spirit.” 


A farmer by the name of Clarence Jordan who worked for a non profit organization called Habitat for Humanity, also worked with the United States President Jimmy Carter. Jordan was also a biblical Greek scholar, theologian, and minister. He saw a divided world around him, one blistered by racial division and hated, lost in meaningless social dribble, and squandered in poverty. The solution, he believed, was found in the New Testament, in the good news of both Jesus and of fellowship. Clarence Jordan was adamant in his belief that biblical fellowship does not describe “pleasant social contracts.1” Rather, he believed that holy fellowship was something far greater and deeper, where God’s people took care of and worked alongside each other, never wanting for anything.  

Per his vision, Jordan ultimately created a thriving integrated community, deep in the segregated south of the 1940’s, where members of all races could work the land alongside one another. He believed living in community was the answer, rather than protests or violence. They called it Koinonia Farms, nestled in the southwest corner of Georgia in Americus County.  

Koinonia (κοινωνία) is a Greek word that means communion or fellowship, to commune together. Koinonia is used in Acts 2:42 to describe the earliest Christian community, how they lived in deep relationship with each other. Luke uses Koinonia several times throughout Acts 2 to describe the early church, emphasizing its importance to Christian identity.  

And much like the early church, Clarence Jordan’s Koinonia was a cultural anomaly amidst a rigid social structure and rampant poverty. In both the early church and at Koinonia Farm, everyone had what they needed, lacked for nothing, and shared everything.  

“There wasn’t a needy person among them, for whoever had fields or houses sold them and brought the proceeds and turned them into the apostles. And it was distributed to each according to his need” (Acts 4:34–35). 

Why is it important?  

Psalm 133 

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is 

For brothers to dwell together in unity! 

It is like the precious oil upon the head, 

Coming down upon the beard, 

Even Aaron’s beard, 

Coming down upon the edge of his robes. 

It is like the dew of Hermon 

Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; 

For there the Lord commanded the blessing — life forever.  

Like the sweetest and richest things of life, this Psalm reminds us of the joy that dwelling in unity brings. Being at peace and harmony with our brother brings not only joy to our own lives, but also to God. He favors those who live in peace and blesses those who dwell in the spirit of unity.  

However, God does not promise that dwelling in unity will always be easy. Often, living this way can be at odds with the larger culture we live in. Koinonia Farms was targeted and brutalized by a terrorist organization called the KKK because it was racially integrated and accused of ties to communism. They faced horrific acts of terrorism from bombings to lynchings, simply because they chose to live differently in the way they felt called by the Lord.  

The early church was also targeted and persecuted by the Roman Empire, suffering first with the crucifixion of Christ on the cross and the execution or imprisonment of many early apostles. Chrstianity was new at the time and didn’t yet have the foundation of ancient ritual to support its existence. For simple existing and building their God-ordained community, the early church was met with hostility from the world around them. 

Yet, God still calls us to dwell in unity. The risks are great, even today as the church around the world continues to face brutal persecution, but the eternal reward is far greater.  

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”  

2 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV 


Digging Deeper into the Word Spiritual Development

The First Christian Retreat

Author: Rachel Kidd

One of Jesus’ greatest and most popular discourses was His Sermon on the Mount, a concise summary of the ethical teaching of the entire Bible. He revealed the “beatitudes” to His people, the beautiful attitudes that denote a grace-filled life of faith in service to God, as well as a way to pray to the Father through the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus essentially tells us what it means to be healthy in the spirit, a check up of the soul of sorts, a reprieve for the missionaries under his leadership.  

While known as a sermon, it was not quite a sermon in the traditional sense, resembling more closely a modern Christian retreat. Jesus is set on the slopes of the mountains surrounding the Sea of Galilee, now known as Mount Arbel, surrounded by thousands of listeners. They were suffering people who required ministry that is often taxing emotionally. I know I often feel drained and overwhelmed after a long mission or service trip where I hear and see the pain of others. The plight of humanity is heavy and burdensome to carry, even for the most experienced shepherds.  

So, Jesus climbs to a higher point of the mountain, extending invitations to attend. He divided the great multitudes in two groups, one of people who were a part of His solution and the other who were still a part of the problem. The context here is important, understanding the intended audience of Jesus’ words. We wonder as readers, where are we in this scene? Are we still at the bottom of the mountain, confused and questioning? Or are we at the top with Jesus, a part of the collective church and the solution? 

To Be Happy  

Those a part of the solution, the disciples, are granted a reprieve from the suffering below them as Jesus checks-in with them. Like when you go around a circle with your church or missions group sharing your highs and lows, your praises and your valleys as a way to encourage each other, Jesus reminds them of the blessings of faith. He renews their spirits through the beatitudes, using the word blessed, or the Greek word makarios, which means happy and fortunate.

Makarios was a common word in the Greek language, used 50 times in the New Testament alone. Happy though is an insufficient translation, unable to capture the full depth and connotation associated with makarios. It describes a people with a privilege of being care-free, a true and everlasting happiness. The Greeks often used makarios to describe the lifestyle of the gods on Mt. Olympus, lounging in the ease and comfort of total power and divinity.  

Jesus is promising this kind of happiness to His disciples, not the fading sort of happiness that comes with earthly things like wealth or candy. Yet, the promise of makarios in the sermon on the mount is coupled not with visions of relaxation and gold finery, but with suffering and desperation. He blesses those that hunger for righteousness, who are persecuted for their allegiance to Him, the merciful and the peaceful. In a way that sounds contradictory, Jesus offers an eternal makarios to the people who suffer most on earth and extends the invitation to all that choose to follow Him.  

Verses on Makarios 

Unlike what might make us happy in the short term, like financial security, the New Testament offers us a different view of makarios and what can make us truly happy.  

Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.  

Luke 11:28 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  

Matthew 5:3-10 

The people described as blessed, or truly happy, are not those with the most money or power. Quite the opposite in fact, they are the poorest, the most downtrodden. They are better able to reflect the glory of God, who is the perfect picture of blessed happiness.  

According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God 

1 Timothy 1:11 

We are promised an eternity with Christ, one characterized by makarios and a perfect heaven, if we are a part of the solution. Though we may suffer on earth with the depths of humanity, Jesus offers us a reprieve, like a retreat on the mountainside. He shares with us the great hope of His ministry, only asking that we take up our things and follow Him.  


Christian History

The Biographies of Jesus 

Author: Rachel Kidd

As an American Studies major, I read quite a few biographies of great people in college. I was inspired by the people who pioneered before, who left profound legacies of courage, creativity, passion, and leadership. Yet, each biography is different and is written from a perspective as distinct as the person who wrote it, even when the subject stays the same.  

When researching one person, any good professor will tell you to read multiple biographies by different authors, maybe even written at different points in history for a more complete perspective. We all have biases and our own voice that comes across in writing, and the authors of the Gospel were no different. To better understand someone and their life’s work, it is best to have a complete picture from multiple perspectives. And this is what the Gospels provide, from the perspective of four of Jesus’ disciples, each with their own viewpoints and memories of the savior.  

But unlike a biography we might read about say Abraham Lincoln, the Gospels are not so concerned with the early life of Jesus. They are centered around the final three years of His life and the good news that Jesus came and died for our sins. And this is the magnificent obsession, the root of the Gospel, the good news of Jesus.  

What are the Gospels? 

During the era of the great early Christian philosopher Justin Martyr, circa 155 AD,  the four books were referred to as the Gospels, plural rather than singular. They were as they are today, the first four books of the New Testament, consisting of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They have been trimmed and compiled according to their differing needs and theological emphases, but dedicated to the words and ministry of Jesus.  

The Gospels are a distinct genre that separates them from other books of the bible. They are biographical accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, written by those who not only were eye-witnesses, but those who were closest to Him during his time on earth.  

We find all of the teachings and words of Jesus in the four Gospels, each book with its differences and perspective depending on its author. There are 89 chapters in the four books of the Gospels, with 85 of these chapters dedicated to the last three years of the life of Jesus. Only a few center on His birth or the first 30 years of His life. Why is that so? Because the emphasis is on the good news, the fact that Jesus came to provide forgiveness for our sin and to reconcile us to God with his death and resurrection.  

Good News 

The word gospel is derived from the early Anglo-Saxon word godspell or “good story.” Translated from the original Greek, godspell was first the word euangelion, meaning “good tidings” or “good news.2”  

Used throughout the bible from Old to New Testament, gospel or euangelion can vary in meaning depending on context. Within the Roman culture surrounding the glorification of emperors, euangelion took on a reverent, worshipful tone. Used often in the context of announcing the arrival of the emperor or succession of the throne, the word became associated with religion. In the New Testament world, the term often appeared in announcements of a victorious battle, or concerning a Roman emperor.  

The inscription below is an example of such a use, describing Roman emperor Caesar Augustus as a savior, heralding his birth as the beginning of “good news [euangelia] to the world!” around 9 BC. Even his name references his divinity within Roman culture, meaning “revered one” and he was often called the “son of God.”  

It eventually became a term for the good news about Jesus Christ, used throughout the Gospels. Mark alludes to the Roman cultural context in chapter 1 verse 1, opening the book with “the beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.” 

Verses on the Gospel or Good News 

In the Old Testament, “good news” sometimes referred to God’s deliverance of his people from the hands of their enemies, whether human or spiritual.  

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news . . . who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7 NIV 

You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” Isaiah 40:9 NIV 

Paul often used “good news” or euangelion in his letters to the church to describe the verbal proclamation of faith.  

Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. 1 Thessalonians 1:5  

The word is important, and demonstrates to us today how early Christians viewed the Gospel. By explicitly linking the birth and life of Jesus Christ to the reverence their peers had for Roman emperors like Caesar Augustus, the authors of the Gospels enumerate the significance of the text. They are telling us that the good news of Jesus is greater than any other story ever told, one that deserves the greatest reverence and bears shouting from the rooftops. They spend the Gospel focused, obsessed even on this good news, declaring that Jesus is the savior of the world.  

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” 

Mark 16:15 


Spiritual Development

Pride that Replaces God

Author: Will Stanfield 

God’s Opinion on Pride

God’s word says a lot about his intention on the life he wants us to live and experience. God’s word also has a lot to say about pride. Pride is commonly understood to be an inflated sense of one’s own worth or personal status and typically makes one feel a sense of superiority over others.  

The Bible states many times God hates pride because when we become prideful, we functionally become god in that we exalt ourselves. We claim that we know what will best suit us. God made us that we might look to him as our ultimate authority. When we look to ourselves and our own experiences as our ultimate authority, we effectively say that we do not need God. 

Brokenness and God’s Response

Genesis records that mankind was able to be perfectly in the presence of God. Then sin entered the picture.  

God had given mankind access to all things and they could freely enjoy all things God gave them access to, except for the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (which was somewhere in the middle of the garden). God commanded Adam and Eve to not eat of the fruit of this tree, or the consequence would be “you will surely die.” Satan later appeared to Eve in the form of a serpent.  

One could say that the very essence of Satan is pride. Up to this point, Adam and Eve had taken God at his word, trusting him, walking with him, enjoying him. But what was the thing that first caused Eve to question God? Pride. Satan suggested that God certainly didn’t mean what he said when he said, “You cannot eat from this tree,” and Eve began to function as though God’s word could be set aside as authoritative, and pride took over. When sin entered the world and forever affected mankind and how we relate to God, it was pride that questioned two things: 1) Is God really good? 2) Is God’s word really true?  

Brokenness is a result of mankind’s rebellion against God. Brokenness exhibits itself in so many complex ways. The simplest way I can think to sum this up would be that brokenness is any way we experience humanity that is not in line with what God intended for us to experience, not in line with what God created us for. 

God’s people had a pattern of failing to live by God’s commands. This pattern was always supposed to serve as a way of them crying out for God to save them because they could never attain perfect obedience on their own. God came, in human form, as Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to do on earth what God’s people could never do. Jesus lived a perfectly humble life, perfectly abiding by all of God’s words, never exhibiting any form of brokenness in his own flesh, and never sinning. Jesus was never proud. Jesus lived 100% the life that God had always intended for humans to live.  

Because of the pride and arrogance of our rebellion to God, the punishment is to be cut off from God—to be fully separated from Him. The result of eating of that tree back in the garden was death. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Every single person, by default, is in direct rebellion to God. When brokenness entered the world, we became incapable of abiding with God and our natural inclination in our brokenness is pride and arrogance—that we think we know better than God. 

We needed saving, and Jesus did what we could not. Jesus attained what we were (are) unable to do on our own. In living a perfectly humble life, he perfectly walked in all God’s commands, he never sinned, and he offered himself, in our place, to bear the punishment we deserve because of our prideful and arrogant rebellion to God. Just as God had to shed the blood of innocent animals to cover up Adam and Eve’s shame and nakedness in their direct rebellion against him, so God shed the blood of his own Son to cover our shame and nakedness in our direct rebellion against him, so that we could have life everlasting, life to the full, and complete joy. It is in Christ Jesus alone that we are able to truly experience the love of God. This was the solution to the tragedy that was our separation from God in our brokenness, pride, arrogance, and rebellion. 

We are Proud

From Adam and Eve to today, everyone still battles with the pride and arrogance of these two questions: Is God really good? And is what He said really good and true?” 

Over and over, I have found that the words of Jesus Christ and the words of God in the Bible have given me joy and life. Sin has always let me down; I have never found final fulfillment in any of my sins. The world has so much to tell us Christians about how we should embrace our sin. This seems cheap to me, though. In my past and in my experience, there is so much joy to be experienced in life than the fleeting pleasures we feel in our sin. 

At the root of all my sin is a pride and arrogance that declares to God, “I want to be the ruler of my life. You are not good, and your words are not good or true.” In rejection of pride and in humility, I want to constantly submit to the truths of who God says he is, and who God says I am. You see, in Jesus Christ, God tells me who I am—He gives me an identity. An identity that is fuller and richer than any identity we humans think we can come up with on our own. An identity that is full of joy and wholeness, where all my longings are satisfied, and where I can live a full life.  

I don’t want to be proud. Pride is an abomination before God. Pride is a kill-joy. Pride declares that God is not good and that I know better. I don’t want to be proud of any way in which I put myself at odds with God as a result of my sin. I don’t want to take pride in what God hates. God hates sin and he grieves over the brokenness in my life. He wants so much for me to walk in the ways in which he designed me for. 

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:7) God is fundamentally opposed to pride, yet to those who seek humility, he is gracious. 

God’s Love in Our Pride

It is true that God loves us the way we are. For us to experience the full love of God in Jesus Christ, we must be able to admit that we need Jesus—that we need saving. We are wise to lay down our pride, seek humility, and admit that God is good and that His word and his ways are good and true. In Christ, God’s love and acceptance of us takes us out of our ways of pride, arrogance, rebellion, and brokenness, and puts us on the path of His ways.  

It is in Jesus’ humility that we are able to find life, because in humility Jesus laid down his own life for the sake of all the people of the earth to have a restored relationship to God once again. It is in Jesus’ humility that we have hope—hope of joy, hope for final freedom from brokenness. Jesus finished the work we could not do on our own, and one day, those who are in Christ, will experience the final restoration and freedom from our brokenness. 

Digging Deeper into the Word Spiritual Development Studying the Bible

Perfect Love

Author: Rachel Kidd

What is perfect love?  

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 

1 John 4:18 NIV  

We know that God is love and that He is perfect. But what does it mean to love perfectly? John tells us here that love not only is the absence of fear, but that love actively pushes out fear. To love is not to intimidate with threats of retribution, rather it is peaceful and harmonious.  

Fear has no place in perfect love, no matter the intention.  

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

Romans 5:8 NIV 

Despite His hatred for sin, Jesus demonstrated perfect love by dying for us in the most horrific way. Crucifixion was a horrific way to die, agonizingly slow and painful, designed to be a warning to dissuade other criminals. Yet, Jesus, the only perfect man to ever live, who was fully God and fully man, chose to die for us sinners on the cross. This act can only be described as perfect love, a divine act of grace for a people so wholly undeserving.  

Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints.  

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 

In a competitive world, it can be hard to imagine relationships with others without competition, arrogance, or rudeness. We see it all the time, from road rage to yelling at a waitress for a mistake in an order. But, what if we chose to live with love in mind? What would the world look like if we were kind to each other, humble, patient, and long-suffering? I can imagine that it would be a world much like heaven.  

How can we show that love to others?  

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 

John 13:34 NIV  

I have two younger brothers, the middle is 2 ½ years younger and the littlest is 7 ½ years younger than me. I was the de-facto babysitter and the responsible party in all matters of disagreements and shenanigans. With two hyperactive and intelligent brothers, you can imagine the scrapes we managed to find ourselves in, from kitchen concoctions gone wrong to broken heirlooms.  

To be honest, I found it really difficult to love my brothers for most of my childhood. I just wanted to go out without being asked “where’s your brother?” or “go find your brother.” I didn’t want to chase a little boy in circles around my middle school or crawl through round racks of clothes in a department store, searching for the missing toddler (both true stories). It began to be a matter of resentment, an anger I carried for many years. Of course, it’s in our nature to feel anger- in fact, Jesus Himself felt angry (Mark 3:5). But, the issue lies in what we do with that anger.  

Anger and fear go hand in hand. And we know that fear has no place in perfect love. In the same way, anger that causes fractures in relationships is far from the vision God has for the love we show our brothers and sisters. The resentment I carried did not foster a loving relationship with either of my brothers, it created a dividing wall between us, eroding the closeness we once shared.  

Once I realized that this anger was preventing a relationship with my brothers, I had to take a step back and evaluate. I needed to spend time in prayer and reflection to process my resentment. It took time, grace, patience, and God’s intervention, but my anger began to dissolve. I realized that my parents were doing the best they knew how, that my brother’s never intentionally tried to take anything from me or my childhood, and that my whole family loves me.  

In order for me to begin to show love for my brothers that even resembles the perfect love of Jesus, I first had to work through my anger. God allowed me to process those childhood feelings in order to rebuild those relationships, making them more perfect in His grace. And that is the key element of perfect love; an absence of anger and an abundance of God’s grace. Without both, love cannot be perfected.