Posts Tagged ‘Disicple’
[05MAR2012] Lent 2012: Day 13—Reflection and Meditation
♦ Gospel - Mark 9:2-10
“Lord God, for forty days Jesus prayed before preaching the word that gives life. Accept our fast and prayers, and listen as we say: Lord, save your people.”
I consider two very stark and very different views of Jesus today. The first view comes to me from Isaiah 53:1-9 and depicts a view of Jesus that is very lowly—
2 There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. 3 He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.
The second view of Jesus comes from Mark’s Gospel (Mark 9:2-10) and reads very differently than Isaiah’s portrayal of the Messiah—
2 As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. 7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.”
I like Mark’s portrayal of Jesus far more than I do Isaiah’s. I think most people do. I believe that many people, myself included, often imagine Jesus as a handsome, fit, charismatic, and wildly popular fellow… maybe we add super-intelligent, all-powerful, omniscient, and other godly attributes to the mix too. After all, Jesus was/is God too. I don’t think I’m the only one who wrestles with the paradox presented to us in the person of Jesus, who is God and man. I think my problem is that I subconsciously will more often think of Jesus as God than I do of him being man. This is where I think the problem of my characterization of Jesus becomes detrimental. If I think of him with more God-like qualities focusing on his perfection and divinity, I push him outside of the possibility of becoming a real-world role model for me. I will invariably think, “I can’t follow Jesus fully; he’s God…and I certainly cannot be like God.” The end result is me setting my standard for following Jesus lower than what God has intended for me.
I think I should spend more time focusing on Isaiah’s portrait of the Christ. Here I will not only come face-to-face with the humanity of Jesus, but I will have a more accurate understanding of who he was as he walked the earth opposing my contemporary idealization of Jesus. Isaiah’s characterization also reveals a more accurate view of who I am in relation to Christ. Considering what I know about myself, it is likely I would have been one who despised and rejected Jesus too. As much as I hate to admit that about myself, reading the account from Isaiah keeps me grounded with an examination of my own heart.
Both views are important for me regardless of my preference. I need to remember the human side—the common and even unattractive side of Jesus. I also need to be reminded of his “divine” side. Most of all about his divine nature is the understanding that while on earth, it was fueled by the Holy Spirit and the prayerful relationship Jesus had with God the Father…both of which are available to me and why my personal bar is always to have Jesus as my model as I learn to walk as he walked.
God be in my head and in my understanding. God be in mine eyes and in my looking. God be in my mouth and in my speaking. God be in my heart and in my thinking. God be in my end and in my departing. -Sarum Primer, 1527
O LORD, I give my life to you. I trust in you my God! Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. -Psalm 25:1-5
Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book. (Rev. 22:7)
Look I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. (Rev. 22:12)
Yes, I am coming soon! (Rev 22:20)
Three times… three times he tells us he is coming soon. In the midst of these proclamations… warnings… promises… I hear and receive some valuable insight and instruction worthy of consideration. (Pay attention to how you listen and how you hear—Luke 8:18).
#1— “I am coming soon!” Rev. 22:7
This is the voice and words of Jesus speaking to us announcing his imminent return. Personally, I consider several interpretations of this statement when I “hear” the words: “I am coming soon…” Some translations of this text read with the following words: “I am coming quickly.” This conjures a slightly different emotion in me from the other translation (I am coming soon). I am reminded of Jesus’ words from the gospel accounts when he tells his disciples about the “speed” and “stealth” of his return. The impressions I am left with from these texts leave me with a sense that Jesus’ return will be sudden, quiet (in some sense), and unexpected to a certain degree. See the Gospel account of Matthew (chapters Matt. 24-25 – see also Revelation 16:15). Is this what it means to understand “I am coming soon…”?
There is also the consideration that “soon” is relative to the concept of our Eternal-Immortal God whose word reveals a “day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day…” (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8). In the same measure of thinking, I have to consider the physical length and number of my remaining days. My time on this side of eternity is very finite. I do not know the number of my days, but I surmise that I have far less remaining than those that I have lived. No matter which version of “soon” or “quick” I latch hold of, I believe my face-to-face meeting with Jesus is coming soon and the point of my focus should be directed toward being prepared for and alert to this pending encounter.
The words of Jesus continue with another proclamation; this one involves blessing. He says; “Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book.” Does this mean those who do not obey are not blessed? And, what does not blessed entail? Obey, or obedience, in this case is related to “the words of prophecy written in this book.” The definition of prophecy here is the mind and counsel which comes from God. The examination falls upon my personal will and intent to honor and obey the teaching of Jesus… so, how am I doing? Am I obedient to the mind and counsel of God? How does the course and character of my life align with the teachings of Jesus? Is my life a picture of the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain? Is the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, the Guide for my life? Am I someone who others will say, “loves the LORD his God with all his heart, all his soul, all his mind, and all his strength”? Am I someone who loves his neighbor as himself? Jesus says; “Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book.” Do I warrant the blessing?
In verse (Rev. 22:9) the angel, speaking to John, admonishes to “Worship only God.” Immediately I question if my loyalties are divided; “Do I live my life as an act of worship to God”? My life is an act of worshiping only God when I pursue His Kingdom and allow His Kingdom to be manifest in me (Romans 12:1-2). Jesus advised his disciples they would obey his command if they loved him (John 14:15). He told them it was impossible to serve two masters… Worship only God. Honesty begs the question; How well am I doing?
The angel puts out some pretty hard words of instruction to John (and us) following his direction to “Worship God alone!” The angel’s words follow:
“Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy.” (Rev. 22:10-11)
I like to think that I am not doing harm; of course, my definition of harm is pretty extreme. I’m not Dr. Evil and I’m not plotting the genocide of a race or anything, so I must be ok. The truth of the matter might be a little less forgiving than I am to myself though. Am I doing what I can to lower my propensity to consume so much? Am I really trying to make the world a better place… one starfish at a time? Do I purchase goods from countries that openly promote and utilize child labor? How much harm… how vile are my actions in the larger scheme of things. I believe the only way I can pursue righteousness is by considering my actions and following their “ripples” to their logical conclusion. My actions and lifestyle must change to reflect pursuit of God’s Kingdom; this is obedience to His commands.
#2— “I am coming soon, and bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.” Rev. 22:12
There seems to be little room for any other interpretation than “what goes around comes around…” If I live my life as a selfish and self-centered person, I will be repaid and rewarded according to my selfish, self-centered nature. A person might argue that my selfish actions might not entirely exclude me from God’s Kingdom, but Jesus’ words and tone from the gospel accounts (Luke 14:25-35) seem pretty clear… without forsaking my “self,” I don’t even qualify as a disciple of Christ. Jesus makes it clear the first step to following Him is to deny and forsake my… “self.” This negates the allowance to live for “self” in the Kingdom of God (in order to find your self you must first be willing to lose your self – Matthew 10:39). Looking inward, I ask my self; “have I taken up my cross to follow him or do I make excuses in order to keep my ‘self’ alive and serve two masters? (Luke 16:13) I cannot “Worship God Alone!” when I continue to worship my self too.
#3— “Yes, I am coming soon!” Rev. 22:20
The point of this meditation is to prepare for the season of His arrival. The Light has come. The Light has dwelt amongst men (John 1:1-5, 14)…and the Light is coming again. Our time is short until He arrives again, regardless whether the clouds part and Jesus physically returns or my days run out and I am suddenly with Him in His Presence. The question to my heart is this: “Am I ready?” (Luke 12:35-52). Among the last words recorded in the Holy Scriptures is the affirmation of Messiah Jesus; “Yes, I am coming soon!” Can I (can you) say with full heart; “AMEN! Come Lord Jesus!”? The season of Advent begins this year November 27, 2011—I encourage you to reflect and prepare… anticipate and be alert, as we celebrate the season of His coming and look forward to the Day of His imminent Return. Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus.
LENT—Day 11: Divine Relationship = #Winning [2011MAR20]
“At the center of the universe is a relationship. That is the most fundamental truth I know. At the center of the universe is a community. It is out of that relationship that you and I were created and redeemed. And it is for that relationship that you and I were created and redeemed!” –– Darrell Johnson, Experiencing the Trinity
The LORD said to Abram; “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land I will show you…” …so Abram departed as the LORD had instructed. (Genesis 4:1, 4a)
I’ve been thinking about these passages today… I think something that I’ve “known” and even experienced in my own heart became even more solidified through this meditation today. Our God is about relationship, pure relationship. God has always been in eternal relationship with himself… perfect, joyful, loving relationship, always the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God made man and woman to be in relationship with himself, joining in the perfect Triune relationship to experience perfect harmony, joy, and love. This, I believe, is what God invited Abram to join in. In the imperative to “go” was the beginning of the healing restoration of the relationship that was broken with Adam’s rebellion so many years before in Eden. The beauty of relationship is in God’s instruction to Abram, He says; “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land I will show you.” I don’t think I’m reading anything into the narrative when I interpret God’s command to Abram that he is not being sent, but rather he is invited into a journey, hand-in-hand with the God of Universe… I hear God saying, “Join ME, Abram, in a life-changing, history rewriting relationship.” Through Abram/Abraham and ultimately through Jesus Christ, this is the same invitation every human being is invited to participate in. While Abraham is highly lauded in Scripture as a man of faith who believed God, we also are extended a similar invitation, only…I believe our invitation to participate in the divine Triune relationship is even more exciting. We have the full revelation; the fulfillment of the promise give to Abraham is complete in our invitation.
“God draws near to us in such a way as to draw us near to himself within the circle of his knowing of himself.” –– T.F. Torrance
Oddly enough, it seems that we often confuse the nature of the relationship that God desires us to enjoy. Our confusion has existed even before the time of the Law given through Moses… Even though Christians will verbally confess our salvation and relationship is based upon faith, we will still rely on obedience to the Law as the basis of our righteousness. We like to define how good we are by the rules we keep. We might not confess this openly, but too often it is the way we live… if nothing else, we do it subconsciously.
God’s promises are based on right relationship. That. Is. A. Mouthful. How many of us base the idea of relationship with God on our performance and obedience to rules? The thing God desires (as should we) above all things is relationship, good, perfect, holy, joyful, loving relationship… perfect relationship as in the Trinity; God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, as it is now, as it will be for ever. This is where God wants us. This is what God invites us to experience, now and for eternity. How many of us measure our performance as the baseline for our relationship with GOD? I think, if we can simply believe as purely as the faith of a child in the goodness of GOD, we can say “Yes, LORD, I will walk with you.” In this, relationship will bloom, grow, and bear fruit… the fruit will be obedience and glory to God.
Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD. For GOD alone my soul in silence waits; truly, my hope is in him. Protect me, O GOD, for I take refuge in you; I have said to the LORD; “You are my LORD, my good above all other.” Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection…O GOD, you are my God; eagerly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you, as in a barren and dry land where there is no water. (Psalm 31:24, Psalm 62:6, Psalm 16:1, Hebrews 12:2, Psalm 63:1)
O GOD, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from thy ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of thy Word, Jesus Christ thy Son; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, on GOD, for ever and ever. Amen.
Follow Jesus. Follow Him. Not Ministry; not a dream; not good… and not bad. Just Jesus. Follow Him.
I understand… I think. And, it is costly…but greatly rewarding. Listen to how Beth Moore tells it. She does a much better job of explaining it here.
In preparation for the Renovare’ conference in San Antonio next Sunday, I’m reading Eugene Peterson’s Jesus Way: A Conversation on the ways that Jesus is the Way. As with everything I’ve read from Eugene Peterson, I love this book. This is the third book of the Spiritual Theology Series which includes other titles; Eat this Book, Christ Plays in 10,000 Places, and the latest…Tell it Slant.
The Jesus Way has beaten me up a bit with some of the thoughts that have been stirred in me. I’m still pondering them and letting the Spirit speak to me about some of the areas where I am guilty of trying to “shape” the Jesus Way into the jeff way. I hate it when I do that. I hate it even more when the Holy Spirit brings it to my attention…sigh.
I read a section that really stirred my soul today and I felt affirmed in my own calling. This following excerpt is from Chapter Five of the Jesus Way by Eugene Peterson. Here he is speaking about the role of a Prophet and using the life of Elijah as a comparison example (pps 119-120):
The task of a prophet is to say the name God correctly, accurately and locally -Yahweh, God alive, God personal, God present. Here. Now. Elijah did that-magnificently. But there is more to the way of a prophet than God. There is also the neighbor.
One of the bad habits that we pick up early in our lives is separating things and people into secular and sacred. We assume that the secular is what we are more or less in charge of: our jobs, our time, our money, our opinions, our entertainment, our government, our house and land, our social relations. The sacred is what God has charge of: worship and the Bible, heaven and hell, church and prayers. We then contrive to set aside a sacred place for God, designed, we say, to honor God but really intended to keep God in his place, leaving us free to have the final say in everything else that goes on outside that space.
Prophets will have none of this. They hold that everything, absolutely everything, takes place on sacred ground. God has something to say about every aspect of our lives, the way we feel and act in the so-called privacy of our hearts and homes, the way we make our money and the way we spend it, the politics we embrace, the wars we fight, the catastrophes we endure, the people we hurt and the people we help. Nothing is hid from the scrutiny of God; nothing is exempt from the rule of God; nothing esc apes the purposes of Gd. The ground is holy; people are holy; words are holy: Holy, holy, holy.
Prophets make it difficult for us to evade God or make detours around God after we leave church or temple or synagogue. Prophets insist on receiving God and dealing with God in every nook and cranny of life. As it turns out, in most of those nooks and crannies there are neighbors. For the prophet, God is as real as the next-door neighbor; the neighbor is as real as God. The neighbor, in fact, gets equal – well, maybe not quite equal, but equally serious – billing with God. Elijah brings the same unrelenting intensity to the cause of Naboth as to Yahweh.
Praise God for His gift of the prophet to His people.