GNB 8

May 23, 2022

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:

“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day He was taken up to Heaven. This He did after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles [formerly disciples] He had chosen.” (Acts 1. 1-2)

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him; those who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8.28)

TODAY’S REFLECTION:

And while I hear the urging of the Spirit declaring words on a global mission, I cannot easily dispose of the reality which rises up out of yesterday’s reflection. While our mission and purpose in this world on earth is global in its scope and sequence of being disciples, we know that not everyone will become a disciple. It will not be for the lack of effort or intention on our part. We live today with tomorrow in mind. Our only concern for the past is that which bears witness to the saving grace of God through Jesus the Christ which is evidenced by the empty cross and the empty tomb. Of course, we are mindful of the journey through the past. For the most part, it was a journey fraught with the consequences of a broken world intending to fix itself…and failing. Not only is the failure evident but it is epic. The events of today are rooted in an at least two-fold reality.

The first reality is the effort to excuse such failures, such as human rights denial for the sake of promoting one’s own welfare, as necessary evils. We live in great part by the pattern of “trial and error.” We may believe there is some adaptation of a scientific methodology to the madness, but it is the mind of a “mad scientist” that is at work. It is not a goodly thing and most definitely it is not a godly thing. Sacrifices of others for the greater good litter the pages of history with a conquering vengeance. It is not about transforming the world from evil to good. It is about reducing the world and amplifying self. Self is made to look better, not “good” as in the biblical understanding of the word, by making others look worse. The denigration of others as people and product is a mortifying effort to create a “more than human” identity which cannot be bound by the “laws of creation.” It is far more than creating Frankenstein’s monster. It is creating a monster race of Frankensteins. Mary Shelley’s work is a story of a man who wants to be god without a God-conscience. It is demonic. It is a work that is being replicated in some form and fashion with the intention of using trial and error to avoid the trial of error.

The second reality is the outright denial that any wrong has been done or was ever intended. We have visited the proposition of “denial and blame” often throughout the Judeo-Christian story from the awakening of Adam and Eve to gospel story itself as it leads up to the crucifixion of Jesus. While the truth of the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension is the silencing of blame and the declaration of “claim,” that works only for those who have put their faith in God. We know that God has accepted the responsibility of reconciling that which free will brought to the human condition with His own free will of sending His Son into the world to silence blame once and for all. Of course, that is contingent upon accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of and over one’s life. To focus on “the blame” rather than “the claim” is nearly a blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit bears witness to the failure to claim the truth about ourselves before, during and after the revelation of Jesus as the Christ evidenced by His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. We, as mighty ones of God, are the evidence of “the claim” which silences “the blame.” But, for those who cannot make such a confession and profession of faith, the only hope of advancement is to deny any responsibility for wrongdoing and thus have no need to claim grace as the new reality. The “self above reproach” is manifested by force and might controlling people and environments to mirror a contrived image of what the good life is. While Shelley’s “Frankstein’s monster” may attempt to show some “heart” and bring a touch of compassion for the story, the truth is that the soul of a person belongs to God. Frankenstein did not resuscitate life but created one by reanimating the dead. Simply raising the dead by human will does not create eternal life. That is the evidence of the raising of Lazarus. Jesus waited four days before making His appearance in Bethany. Not only had Lazarus “fallen asleep,” something akin to Wesley’s “mostly dead” in The Princess Bride, but he was not “rotting, stinking dead.” Even in the coolness of the tomb, Lazarus was already considered maggot food. He was in a place where no human could will him back to life. Only the hand of God and the power of His will could revive, restore and reconcile him back to his family and friends. Those who deny any wrongdoing as in essence saying “there is no death and thus no penalty for death…my death.”

As believers in Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God (now you may say why that title is so vital), we are connected to the truth as Paul described it, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” “Fallen short” does not simply mean “error which can or may be confirmed or denied.” “Fallen short” points us in the direction of the penalty of sin, the consequence of sin and the reality of sin which is eternal death. Eternal death is not merely the end of life as a physical reality. Eternal death is the sentencing of the soul of a person into eternal separation from presence of God’s mercy and grace. The soul will never be separate from God’s power, dominion and authority. Those souls will exist in the torment of their “lack of denial that anything is wrong.” No human being will ever be totally right.

But, we can be totally “right with God.” This is the hope of the gospel of Christ and the gospel of the Church which is the body of Christ. It is the pursuit and intent of living righteously. True righteousness is the relationship that is intent on living the life which God made, blessed as good and reconciled in Christ. It is a code of life and the expression of a spirit in tune with the depth of God. This is the good news which has been given to the succeeding generations of disciples leading up to and including us. Jesus defined it with a fairly objective truth which He called “a new command.” He said, “A new command I give to you and by this you will be known as my disciples: that you LOVE one another.” It is no coincidence that Luke writes to “Theophilus” who is either one who pursues loving God because of God’s loving pursuit of him or to a “community of faith” which is the same. It is not about changing the world, mighty ones of God. The world will never be changed because it will never be able to confess wrong-doing or that it was ever wrong. As long as the world, people are the world, can blame others in order to promote self, it will never change. But, people can change. They can be transformed by the renewal of their mind toward God and their heart toward one another. In the end, this is what defines us as mighty ones of God. Our future is not of this world any more than the Kingdom to which we belong is of this world. We belong to an unbroken world which is the Kingdom of God. And in our confession and profession of faith that Jesus is the Christ, we become citizens of it seeking to allow it to live in us and through us in this world until Christ comes again as the true defining authority of Heaven and earth. Let the truth be known. Broadcast good news of this great joy!

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father God, You have favored us with good news to broadcast in word and deed into all the world. You have made it possible for us to accomplish that which You have given. We believe that You will not put more on us that we are able to do. Nothing shall be impossible for us as we commit ourselves to priority number one! We believe; help us in our unbelief. Pour out Your blessing on those whom we will broadcast good news of a great joy. Put Your protection over their lives and keep them safe from eternal harm. Let us be strong in the face of evil and evil doers and let us not enter into the consideration of temptation which tells us we can be lukewarm. We ask this in the name of Jesus our Lord who was and is and will always be our Savior and our Friend. AMEN.

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