Archive for October, 2013
“And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit'” (John 20:22).
Knowing that the missional task of being the presence of Christ in the world cannot be accomplished by even the most determined of human efforts, Jesus breathed his living Spirit into the disciples. What God the Father did in his initial act of creation (Genesis 2:7), God the Son has done in making us a new creation.
“Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).
Our mission and purpose in life isn’t new but, rather, a continuation of the one given to Jesus. It is a life focused on the glorification of the Father and the pursuit of his will. Being a sent people is the sole basis of our existence. Wherever you might be, you have been sent there. Never underestimate your influence as salt and light.
“And when He had said this, he showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20).
That he offered his hands and side for examination is further evidence that the resurrection of Jesus was not mythical, or spiritual, but literal and physical. This was a “game-changer” not just for the disciples then, but it created a new reality for all humanity. If the evidence is to be believed, this then is the only thing that really matters in life.
“So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you'” (John 20:19).
Just three days from their abandonment of Jesus, I think it’s significant that following the resurrection the first word Jesus spoke to his disciples was one of grace, Jesus knew that guilt and shame are terrible encumbrances; they stifle and strangulate the human spirit. In the place of these, Jesus offers his disciples unbroken love, forgiveness and acceptance.
“and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
If God is all loving, why does he allow suffering in the world? If he is all powerful, why doesn’t he do something about it? These are the commonly asked questions for which the critics of the Christian faith demand an answer. If, then, the followers of Jesus must bear the burden of explaining pain and suffering, consistency would require of unbelievers an explanation for the presence of joy in these same circumstances. It cannot be explained apart from the person of Jesus Christ, who came that our joy might be made full.
“Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left” (Isaiah 30:21).
As followers of Christ the life we live emerges not from a list of religious rules that promise reward or punishment but, rather, the growing transformation resulting from an abiding relationship with a risen Savior. Nevertheless, the choices and decisions we make each day, and how and why we decide as we do, are telling. Each one reflects our willingness to follow the leading of the still, small voice of God’s Spirit as He faithfully directs our path.
“for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:21).
In the stain glass filter that many, if not most, utilize in reading scripture and seeking to tidy up the life of faith, a significant incarnational reality is lost–the inspired text was written not in the elegance and rhythm of classical Greek verse but the common street language of a peasant class. We should not be shocked that the God who sent his blessed son among such people would inspire such people to produce the sacred text. Thus, real talk and not religious rhetoric is the most effective means of communicating with those who will never read their bible but, most certainly, will be reading us.
“I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders” (Psalm 9:1)
Our awareness of God’s life-sustaining provision is most telling when a spirit of thanksgiving is the prevailing attitude of the heart. It is a perspective on life that sees the hand of God in all things great and small. While he does the tending we must do the telling.
“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb” (John 20:1).
Mary’s abiding faith got her up early Sunday morning and to the tomb of her Lord. Whether she was anticipating something special is uncertain but her actions offered what would become the centerpiece of Christian history and practice–going the first thing Sunday morning to discover the resurrected Christ. Every Sunday is historic and by our faithful attendance assures the future propagation of the church.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).
Not only are you the object of God’s love, but you were created to be loved by him. He has crowned us and made us heirs. Because we most often see ourselves in the reflection of our failures and shortcomings, we are constrained in considering ourselves as objects of Divine favor. We must learn to refocus on what we know about Him instead of being held hostage by what we know about ourselves. How well we know Him is revealed in the love we offer to others.