GNB 58

July 21, 2022

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:

“And what does the Lord require of you? He requires you to act justly. He requires you to love mercy. He requires you to walk humbly with Him. [These are not mere suggestions!].” (Micah 6.8)

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become [clothed with] the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5.21)

TODAY’S REFLECTION:

**I must share an important disclaimer here as there are mighty ones of God and followers of the Way of Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, who believe that as a Christian there is no need to “follow the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament.” I would offer this piece of information, the Old Testament contains the revelation of God to the nation of Israel on being clothed with righteousness. It is a testimony of success when they “dress for Kingdom success” and a chronicle of consequences for when they took off the wardrobe of Kingdom success. The Old Testament anticipates the fulfillment of Israel’s destiny as God’s people in the world but not of it. The fulfillment of that destiny was not and is not bound by their obedience in completing the Law as no earthly person can. The fulfillment of that destiny occurs only when the people cultivate the culture and climate of faith in God and meet the requirements which He has established for righteous living. Micah, a minor prophet, reveals God’s word on these requirements. They are not adornments but part of the wardrobe worn by those who trust the Lord with all their heart and lean not on their own understanding. Those who lean on their own understanding perceive these requirements as negotiable, conditional and optional. Those who lean on God understand them to be unquestionable, unconditional and without fault.**

When we think of how Jesus was clothed in righteousness so that we can consider our spiritual wardrobe, we have to embrace the very culture and climate in which He lived. Jesus is unique in this perspective because He is the Son of the Living God, Yahweh Elohim, and He is the son of Mary born of woman. The culture and climate of His life bears the marks of two worlds: the Kingdom of God in Heaven and the Kingdom of God on earth. While they are the same in that God is over them both, the Kingdom of God on earth exists in the world and the Kingdom of God in Heaven does not. To exist in the world, one must be born into it. It is a part of God’s design. Even Adam and Eve were born out of the world created by God’s command of the Holy Spirit using the elements of the earth. Following the second Genesis story, Genesis chapter 2, Eve is born of Adam. God took a rib from his side and cultivated the elements of the earth to form and fashion this helpmate and companion for Adam. It symbolized that the two should be as one. It also bore witness to how our life on earth was intended to be in right relationship with God; thus the two (humans and God) being as one. They, of course, did not know of Heaven as the dwelling place of God. What they knew of the “heavens” was the expanse over and beyond them filled with greater and lesser lights: the sun, moon, planets and stars. They were also aware that they were different from all of creation. What they did not know was that they were different from God. Oneness is not sameness. So, while Jesus was the Son of God and the Son of Mary, His natures of humanity and divinity were different. He was a living comparison and contrast for understanding the meaning of living in the world but not being of it.

One of those distinctions I want to introduce in reflection as I ponder a fuller expression of Micah 6.8 as quoted before, is how Jesus was clothed. As being born of Mary, a flesh and blood being, Jesus was born into the world like every one of us: a naked infant. As a parent, we spend a lot of time “covering” our babies who become children who become adults. And while some babies loathe coverings, we persist in wrapping them up; especially newborns. Why? I tend to believe it is because for nine months, the fetus was wrapped up snuggly in its mother’s womb. The fetus draws its physical life from its mother. It is surrounded by her for that entire period from conception to deliverance. The wrapping in swaddling cloths imitates that closeness it felt for the beginning period of its life. There is comfort and assurance in that closeness. But, I would draw our attention at that point back to the Garden of Eden. In what “state” were Adam and Eve, man and woman, born? No, I don’t mean Texas, Kentucky, California or the confusion of the world (or as the Christmas song expresses “in mean estate.”) You see, it wasn’t a “mean estate” until after their eyes were opened to the light of revelation which came from their conscience being awakened. And it wasn’t the awakening that was the problem. It was that they choose to “see” life from a perspective other than that which God intended. God makes no apologies for being “a jealous God.” His heart, mind, soul, spirit and strength are devoted and committed to His people. He truly wanted and desired them to be in relationship with Him just as He was in relationship with them. He wrapped them up in a world of good, provision and purpose. But, relationships are tricky. Forced relationships, relationships without choices, are not loving relationships. Love kind of complicates things if not handled correctly. So, when Adam and Eve succumbed to the complication of “not trusting God,” their eyes were opened to a whole new perspective of the world. They saw the world as “right and wrong, good and bad, blessed and cursed, holy and evil and worse…life and death.” And the first thing they saw was each other. The sudden exposure of difference between themselves and with God was “earth shattering.” So, God, in His justice love, made a sacrifice and with it created a covering for them. It demonstrated how God would address the injustice in the world that our actions created.

Consider then Jesus as He came into the world in life and departed the world in death. He was naked, but unashamed. He had no knowledge of His nakedness when He was born and it no longer mattered when He was crucified. He came into the world as He would leave the world. It was up to a Mary to wrap the baby in swaddling cloths at birth to provide that sense of comfort and belonging. It was up to the Marys to preserve that modicum of dignity that the world’s sinfulness inflicted upon Jesus whom they loved. They hastily wrapped His emptied body in swaddling cloths and put Him in an empty tomb. They would return on the third day to make Him ready to live in that tomb forever. But, God’s justice had a different wardrobe in mind.

I think that is enough to consider for today. But, there is more as we consider the Kingdom wardrobe, dress for Kingdom success on earth as it will be in Heaven. Until we reflect again, shalom.

OUR CALL TO PRAYER:

Father, may the light of Your mercy and grace illumine our way with the truth that secures the life which cannot be taken away. It is by You alone that we have hope, that hope which has come to light in us, on us and through us in Jesus the Christ who indeed is the light of the world and the Light of all lights. May His light of faith, hope and love burn brightly today as we declare our place with Him as His disciples. In His name we pray, AMEN.

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