September 12, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer yourselves as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God for this is your true and proper worship [or your proper service to God.] Do not, therefore, conform to the pattern [of thinking] of this world but be transformed [into the pattern of the Kingdom of God] by the renewing of your mind. It is then that you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is; that is, what is His good, pleasing and perfect will for us all.” (Romans 12.1-2)
I love that Paul clarifies what we will discover when we are able to test and approve God’s will. He says we will find His good, pleasing and perfect will for us. Mighty ones of God, we have to stay focused on the wisdom which teaches us that God is not all about God. Rather, God is all about us. The Creator who considered us, designed us, fashioned us, made us, breathed into us and gave us life also has made a way for those who have chosen another will to get back to what is conversely true. What is that “converse truth”? Wisdom, if we will allow it, teaches us that we are not all about ourselves; we are all about God. And the world, not the earth mind you, is so opposed to this truth. The world does not have a desire to renew your mind. The hope of the world is to subdue your mind by flooding it with “self” images and taking credit for the things which declare the image, footprint and fingerprint of God upon people and history. It is little wonder that the “world of America” desires to eliminate the image, footprint and fingerprint of God upon its people and their history. In doing so, or in at least promoting such revisionist history to create the appearance of doing so, the image of God is eliminated in much the same fashion as the new cellular telephones which possess the technical ability to “erase” someone or something from a picture taken by it. What it does, essentially, is mask the truth so that we can say “it is not there, it is not so.” Then, without God, the world believes it is free to pursue its own destiny as if it exists without consequences. There is even a hope to erase the image of death as a reality. There is only one hope for that image to be true and that is when we look at all there is through the lens of Jesus as the Christ. He is the neck of the hour glass through which the sands of time now pass from one bowl to another. I would even propose the literary element often used in poetry to illustrate this point which allows a reflection of statements to stand in order with each other.
As I mentioned above, consider the following:
God is not all about God.
God is all about us.
We are all about God.
We are not all about us.
“X,” the Greek letter for Chi is the first letter in the name of Christ, marks the transition point, the neck of the hour glass through which the sands of time pass. It is the image of the wise pursuit of being clothed in righteousness. It is the way in which God “sees” us through Christ and the way in which we “see” God through Christ. As we flow through the hour glass of God’s good, pleasing and perfect will, we actually participate in the “Kingdom of God in our midst as it is in Heaven.” Jacob had a vision of seeing Heaven opened up and angels ascending and descending between Heaven and earth on a stairway or ladder. It was a physical transport which Jacob was able to see in the vision given to him. It wasn’t an ethereal move like a Star Trek transporter obeying the command “Beam me up, Scottie.” It showed the effort exerted in that which moved between the two realms of the Kingdom of God. Jesus referred to this image as well when He called Nathanael into discipleship. Nathanael marveled that Jesus had “seen” him under a fig tree before Philip arrived with the “good news.” Jesus declared, “If you believe that, believe in the greater things you will see in the days ahead. I tell you, the heavens will open us and angels will ascend and descend on the Son of Man.” (John 1.51) Jesus is the means by which people and angels move between the realms of God in both Heaven and earth. It is also the way we are intended to move between the realms of the kingdoms of this world. The very purpose of the Great Commission is to share the vision unilaterally so that we can all be a part of the vision uni-vertically.
It is a visual image that I am sharing with you and the image is of the cross. Two spars, one lateral and one vertical intersecting in the form of a cross; especially that used for crucifixion. The lateral spar held the arms of Jesus wide open without the ability to grasp anything and thus forced to release everything. From this position, Jesus is fully exposed (and He was fully exposed) to the world. Yet, the words He uttered spoke of mercy, grace and forgiveness and not of shame, guilt or remorse. He came before the world and God “just as He was” so that “just as we are” could do the same and be acceptable upon our confession and profession of faith. The vertical spar is what the lateral spar rested upon as it was set in place. It allowed the lateral spar to appear suspended between heaven and earth with that dreaded sense of hopelessness. The weight of the world would literally pull the body down forcing the victim of crucifixion to struggle to push “up to heaven” and relieve the pressure of collapsing lungs filling with fluid from a heart that grew too weary to beat efficiently. It pointed to the reality of crucifixion which was “heaven was unobtainable and the grave was inevitable.” That is, if you accept the image from the worldview. But, this was no criminal nor ordinary man who was on the cross that day of Passover 29 A.D. This was Jesus the Christ. We know this because Pilate himself had a sign erected over His cross which declared Him, with the messianic title, King of the Jews. It mattered little to Pilate in the course of Roman authority that Jesus bore this title. It mattered greatly to him in the course of admonishing the Temple leadership who manipulated the system to gain the death of their rival and the threat to their convenient and self-serving way of life as it had become their “God’s honest truth.” They cared little about the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. They cared less about the people of Israel, the sheep of God’s pasture. They could not see man or God in Jesus of Nazareth, God’s only begotten Son who was His Christ and our Messiah. But, they had to look upon the declaration even in their derision as long as Jesus was on the cross. To see Him was to see the “sign” and the Messianic portent it proclaimed. Regardless of what they believed about themselves, God’s good, pleasing and perfect will was being done on earth as it would be in Heaven. What had come down from heaven went up on the cross and “X” marked the spot. What then went down to the grave would be lifted up and ultimately would ascend to the heights of heaven and “X” marked the spot. The “X” is none other than Jesus. Keeping our focus on Him, as He said to Philip, “if you have seen Me, then you have seen the Father and that is enough.” (John 14)
But, the converse is true and we give thanks for it because Jesus says to God His Father, “If You see me, then You have seen Your people and that is enough.” Such truth, then, is there in the last words of Jesus on the cross. That cross bore the sign we all look for “Jesus is the King of the Jews” and thus our Lord, Savior and Messiah. As we look in awe, wonder and conviction He breathed His last breath saying “It is enough. It is finished. It is done.” It was Him being all about God in mercy and grace and all about us in spirit and truth. It must also be said, then, that it was Him being all about God in Spirit and in truth and all about us in mercy and grace. Shalom. Selah.
Father God, hear our prayer and be merciful in Your listening. Forgive us when we have been more about ourselves and our world than about You and Your kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. Empower this word as we lift it up. It is the word of life and truth that Jesus is the Messiah, our Lord and Savior, the promised and prophesied King of the Jews who is then our King, too. May this Word so live in us that we become a cup overflowing with mercy, grace and love and pour out on the world which we cross through today. May they see You in us, we pray in Jesus’ name. AMEN.