July 26, 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)
“Finally, be strong in the Lord; His mighty power is with us. Put on the full armor of God. In doing so you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood. Rather, it is against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God. When the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground; and after you have done everything, you will be able to stand.” (Ephesians 6.10-13)
These reflections on “being clothed with righteousness” were spurred on by the image of Christ on the cross. We may certainly be horrified by the vivid reality not shared in the gospels as to the picture of what was seen there that day. In truth, only one disciple, the beloved John, was actually present at the scene of the crime. All other disciples, except for Judas of Kerioth, were in hiding for fear of their lives and for the shame they had brought on themselves in their lack of faith. In truth, for all the attention the “Jesus parade” had going into Jerusalem on the Sunday beginning Passover week and had going out of Jerusalem in the hours before Passover sabbath was to begin at the end of the week, there were few who actually made it up the hill of Golgotha to witness the actual event. All accounts after the fact were hearsay or, at best, seen from a distance. But, if the gruesome report was actually given to share the details of what happened to Jesus, I would dare say we would understand better the joy of resurrection which the disciples experienced. Regardless of what may have been said about the crucifixion at noon on Friday, the truth was that Jesus of Nazareth was dead. Not only was He dead but He was stripped of all human dignity from the clothes He wore (all of them) to the flesh that covered His body. He was fully exposed with the intent to show “this is no god and this cannot be the Son of God, Yahweh Elohim.” The real truth of that moment is that Jesus showed how much like each of us He was: vulnerable, broken (in heart as no bones were broken), battered, bruised, vilified, humiliated, taunted, bullied and left with no worldly hope. But, as He told Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world. You have no authority over Me.” He had earlier professed, “The reason My Father in Heaven loves Me is because I lay down My life so that I may lift it up again. No one takes it from me but I lay it down of My own accord.” Jesus lived to die and died to live. He knew the will of God for each of us and committed Himself to represent the will of God fully, completely and without end. So, when Jesus appeared to the disciples on the eighth day, the first day of the week following Passover, He was declaring the end to the reign of terror which sin had waged against the people of God. He was renewed, revived, restored and reconciling all people to Himself that they might all be presented to God as worthy. Left to die on the cross in “all His glory,” God raised Him from the tomb clothed in “all HIS glory.” He was indeed the righteousness of God and proclaimed that we, too, can be the same if we follow Him in life, in death and in the life to come.
Mighty ones of God, followers of the Way of Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, God’s only begotten Son, we have to see the intent of the world for what it is. If we become a part of the kingdom of the world, then we are committed to being stripped of all we have, laid bare and nullified and denied of any hope for the glorious future that has always been our promise. The audacity of the leadership of this world is a mere reflection of the tenacity of the true Enemy of God, Satan- the Cast Out Lucifer. For all his faded splendor, he remains a force of choice against God and God’s people. He is a force to be dealt with by us but he is a force already reckoned with by Jesus Christ Himself. While we yet live on earth, we will be charged with standing against him while we stand for God. The descriptors of being “dressed for success” spiritually I alluded to in Micah 6.8, speak of how we stand for and with God in this world. We act justly. We love mercy. We walk humbly. We are clothed in the righteousness of God from head to foot. Justice comes in “right thinking” which guides “right action”- our head. Mercy comes in “being right with one another” because we “are right with God who shows us How great is His love”- our heart and soul. Humility comes in adopting the attitude and intent of “serving and not be served” modelling the very call of God on human life “from the beginning of the human journey”- our feet. We emulate the “righteousness of God” when we seek to meet these requirements placed before us and on us in our calling to be “the people of God.” These are not optional, conditional nor dispensable. These requirements are the same yesterday, today and forever as we seek to live “on earth as we would in Heaven.” It is what we as Christ followers pray for and about, is it not?
But, there has always been a battle, a struggle, a challenge presented to us which is made known by the gift of choice, free will and self-actualization. It is a spiritual battle of heart, mind, body and soul. It is waged on earth as it is in Heaven. The authentic choice is whether we will live as more than conquerors or the conquered. Will we choose to live out the victory that is ours in Christ Jesus? If we will, then we must be clothed in righteousness prepared for the battles that surround us. There is a war still ongoing between Satan and God. It is a losing battle that Satan is fighting because he has already lost the lynchpin of his argument that sin is the ultimate freedom. Grace is the ultimate freedom. Mercy is the ultimate freedom. Love for those who are beyond ourselves is the ultimate freedom. Yet, Satan will not surrender. So, we must prepare ourselves and be clothed with the full armor of God as we await the return of the King. And that is where we shall find ourselves in reflection in the coming week. I look forward to sharing it with you. Shalom.
OUR CALL TO PRAYER:
Father, You have left nothing to chance. You have seen all the courses of life and know there is but one way in which we may come to dwell in the House of the Lord forever. You have shown us this way. It is the way of Christ. You have called us to prepare the way in spirit and in truth. We accept the call and we are ready to put on the full armor to be dressed for spiritual success. We will be ready to go out and defend those who cannot defend themselves and bring in the lost so they will be found. Hear our prayer and receive our choice to be called the children of the Most High God. We pray this in Jesus’ name, He who is called “Faithful and True.” AMEN.