GNB 87

August 26, 2022

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:

“The Son of God radiates the glory of God and is the exact representation of His being thereby sustaining all things by His powerful Word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty of Heaven returning as superior to the angels and bearing the name that is greater than theirs.” (Hebrews 1.3-4)

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Matthew 5.13)

TODAY’S REFLECTION:

Here is something to think about that may well stretch your thinking and your imagination: Did God create the darkness? As we are led into the mystery of God’s creation of the Heavens and the earth, the first level of creation was “And God said, Let there be light.” And there was light. God saw that the light was good. God then separated the light from the darkness. Before the earth, the physical planet, existed there was light and dark. The earth had no sense of form nor purpose. Darkness hovered over the surface of the deep. The Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the waters. I love recapturing the prophesy of Isaiah at this point in my own thinking. Young’s Literal Translation presents Isaiah 9.2 this way, “The people who are walking in darkness have seen a great light. Dwellers in a land of the shades of death, a light hath shone upon them.” How can one walk unless there is a substantive surface such as the face of the deep? How can they see their way out of the shades of death which is the deep unless there is a light directing them to the surface where the Spirit of God hovers over the face of the waters? Seeing the tremendous potential that lies just beneath the surface of each of us lurking in the darkness of our heart, mind and soul, the truth is brought to light and becomes lifted up and out. John presents this beyond the invitation to his gospel rendering in his first letter declaring, “And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you: God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But, if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1.5-9) To me, this is another way of saying “a people who have dwelt in darkness, in the valleys of the shadow of death, have seen a great light.” The lack of knowledge of who and whose they are, the people of God, results in the people becoming a what, a people without a true defining meaning and purpose which exists beyond themselves. With such meaning and purpose those people are brought up and out into the light. That light is the inspiration of God’s Spirit which is holy, righteous and true. It is, in other words, the Word of God, by which all things are created and put into order. The true order of all life is to be “in the light without any darkness in us.” Now, I know this is waxing philosophical but stay with me as thoughts become words. Is God speaking metaphorically? If we speak literally and say “there is no darkness,” then why would God have created the dark and the light and put them into order with a name: Day and Night? If we speak theologically and spiritually, then we must hear the very declaration of God as He is pleased with the Light to say “It is good.” He does not say the same for the darkness. We might assume then it is bad but if it was bad then it serves no good purpose. Why then would God create anything without a purpose. An intentional and purposeful God would not. So, the darkness has a purpose but the blessing falls on the light. Following the prophecy of Isaiah, the blessing falls on those who have seen a great light and walk in it. Now reaching to the gospels, Jesus says “I AM the light.” He calls us to follow Him and to be the light of the world. He is not speaking of street lamps, spotlights and burning candles in the windows. Those are physical manifestations of the light which in and of themselves have no sense of knowledge or being. They are just as the earth was “void of meaning and purpose.” No, Jesus speaks of us being “the light of the world.” The world is the community of people and the communities of people who dwell on earth. Now the differences come to “light.” There are those who walk in darkness who do not recognize the covering of the Spirit nor the true meaning of life the Spirit gives. There are those who walk in the light who recognize, though not fully actuate, the covering of the Spirit on them and the true meaning of life which the Spirit gives them. Their purpose is to more fully actuate the covering of the Spirit and to grow in the knowledge of the meaning of life which the Spirit gives.

One example of this would be the disciples who dwelt in the Upper Room following the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the man of Nazareth whom they followed and acknowledged as the Christ, the Messiah sent by God. Their first period of dwelling in that room was during “Shroud, or Shadow, Saturday.” Though it was Satur-DAY, it was still the Sabbath. They remained in the depth of sorrow, in the valley of the shadow of death, for the full day of Sabbath (from Friday evening to Saturday evening). Despair was their time of worship. In them there was this darkness. There was no hope nor any light of hope or joy in their midst. So dark was this time and so deep was their sinking in sorrow that they forgot the promises which Jesus had made about that season. They persisted throughout the Sabbath day in the darkness without seeing the light. Since it was then Saturday night, they remained in the Upper Room so they were in the dark physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. It would not be until sunrise on the “third Day” that they would see the “light as those who had been dwelling in the midst of darkness.” It was then by the testimony of the women who had gone to the tomb to finish shrouding the body of Jesus in His burial and found it empty that the “light of God’s Word” began to dawn on them. As they stepped more into the light they soon found Jesus stepping more into their darkness. That darkness of doubt, fear and hopelessness fled before the light and things started being “good” again: filled with meaning and purpose.

But, that was not the end of the experience. And this is where I left off yesterday with the call to embrace the words of Jesus who taught that all believers in Him are to be “salt and light.” For forty days, the disciples and committed followers, gathered in the Upper Room. They fellowshipped with the breaking of bread, sharing the Word, singing songs and hymns and spiritual songs which rose up out of their heart inspired by the resurrected Lord. Jesus continued to reteach them all that He had commanded. Then came the “second farewell.” He took them out to a mountain, presumed to be the Mount of Transfiguration, and there He dispensed to them the Great Commission as their true meaning and purpose in life. It was the moment He had prepared them for. It was not the moment they expected. In that moment, Jesus was taken up into Heaven to be seated at the right hand of God until the fullness of “world” time was reached. They were told to go back to Jerusalem. There they were to wait for the fulfillment of the promise which He had made to them concerning the Holy Spirit. He did not say how long it would be only that it would come and they should wait for it. And wait they did. They were now fully practiced and master waiters. They were no longer apprentices in the learning of their craft. It just wasn’t graduation time…yet. They waited as in the same manner they had spent the last forty days. It was a season of sojourn reflecting the forty years the Hebrew children spent in the Wilderness of Sin before entering the Promised Land. It was a time of cultivating their faith in the cause and in the building up of one another in the full measure and stature of Christ. It was only ten days and then Pentecost. In the early morning hours of Pentecost as the sun broke over the horizon, the Spirit of God descended on that Upper Room. It came as a mighty rushing wind that may well have sounded like waves crashing against the shoreline. Those disciples were very familiar with the sound of great waves, especially Peter. The sound of it certainly gained their attention. They were immersed in the presence of the Spirit. It washed over them and filled that very room. It was undeniable and it was inextinguishable. You see, it was recorded that the Spirit was seen by all those in the room as tongues of fire separating and coming to rest on them. But, they were not consumed by the fire. They were, in the image we remember from the book of Daniel, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego with the Spirit as the “fourth” man in the fiery furnace. Why were they not consumed by the flames? Because they had been salted by the Chief High Priest, Jesus Christ, for sacrifice. The disciples saltiness had been restored by the Good News of resurrection. What did Jesus teach but that salt which lost its saltiness would be cast out as it no longer served its purpose. Grief and sorrow can diminish the salt, the multiplication of the power of the sacrifice, which we are. Our tears and cries can break down the salt and leave it virtually unpalatable or even visible. But, Jesus restored their saltiness and did so over forty days by His presence. They were now prepared to take up the cross and enter into the Promised Land of Jerusalem, Judea and all the nations of the world. They were now being presented as “living sacrifices.” This was the image Paul wrote of in his letter to the Roman community of faith in Christ saying: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12.1-2)

The “renewal of your mind” says Paul. It is the salting of our soul with the Word of God not in knowledge as those on whom a light has dawned but as those who are wise on whom and in whom the Holy Spirit dwells. The light of the world can be seen as the “go and do” of the gospel intended to be spoken as with the Great Commissioning. The salt of the earth can be seen as the “go and be” of the resurrection community of faith living out the Great Commissioning in spirit and in truth. Knowledge differs from wisdom. Knowledge is the facts, the evidence, the “stuff” we can learn in the bits and pieces of our experience. Wisdom, however, is becoming masters of using that knowledge for the intended purpose which results in the greatest accomplishments and satisfaction of fulfilling God’s will and purpose. It is why I believe Jesus modelled the life of the believer in His resurrection ministry spending time to review the knowledge and then giving them the time to receive the wisdom which that knowledge was to be used for. And on Pentecost Sunday, that first day of the week, the “sacrifice” was put to the test in the very first place Jesus commissioned the disciples to practice their new trade- the Temple courts. More on that come Sunday. Until then, shalom!

OUR CALL TO PRAYER:

Father, Jesus told us that one day wherever we would worship we would know to do so in spirit and in truth. With the knowledge of the gospel and the wisdom of the Spirit, we commit ourselves to be living sacrifices salted with power, dominion and authority to “go and do and be” His disciples and Your people. By who we are and what we will do the Good News shall spread across the face of the deep and bring forth a great light which is the salvation of all who will believe it, receive it and dwell in it now and forever. AMEN.

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