GNB 2.18

January 20, 2023

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:

“Or do you not know that your body is the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who resides within you. You have received it from God. You are, therefore, not your own.” (1 Corinthians 6.19)

TODAY’S REFLECTION:

Can’t we just allow this truth to be a benchmark for measuring how we have lived, should live and are living? We are not our own person unless we deny in word and deed that we are God’s person. Sure, there are lots of people who do good things for others. There are people who commit their lives as service to help those who are in need. And we ought to be grateful for all they do. Yet, good works by people do not compare to the good work which was done through Jesus of Nazareth, God’s only begotten Son. The true measure of authentic living comes in how much of all we say and do gives glory to God and brings others into the glory of God. The depth of meaning and purpose in our lives is actually the determination of how much we allow God to fill us. If we live shallow lives then we can still have God in us but the hungering for a deeper satisfaction beckons us to go deeper with God. We need to step out of the kiddie pool and the shallow end and launch into the deep. Why do we fear the deep if it is emblematic of the “more of God” that is around us? Even now, we have a technology called the James Webb Telescope which allows us to explore the depths of the known universe as never before. While the hope may be look back in time to capture the “first moment” of the creation of this universe, it will not be able to see beyond that. We might, might mind you, see the effect but will we see the true cause of the effect. Is the hand that flips the switch and brings to light the fullness of the room in which we are in in the room or outside of it? Is our thinking limited to “God in a box” just like some pseudo-theologians declare Jesus to be “God in a bod’”? They are both so much more because they are of a spiritual nature and not limited by the confines of natural law. As they are so, too, should we be because we are of God and are God’s people in spirit and in truth.

So, as we promote this understanding and truth can’t we bring to light the contradictions which the depth of sin hollow out in this world? If our actions toward another person deem them to be “our person” then are we of God and are we truly God’s person? What about that other person? Do our actions toward them and with them highlight and promote they are of God and are God’s person? And if we are denying our true identity as determined by God’s relationship with us, then aren’t we acting akin to blaspheming the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the purveyor and projector of the truth of God in our world and in our lives. The Holy Spirit brings to light the truth that we are of God and will continue to be under His rule and reign of love regardless of the depth of our belief in Him. I have said this many times and will continue to project it as truth: God’s love is not a “Get out of Hell” free card. God’s love may well be the card which says “Go directly to Hell. Do not bypass God. Do not collect any wages you think you may have earned by your good works which were never intended to honor, glorify and promote God.” You see, God has a “monopoly” on life. All life belongs to Him. He is not capricious, thank God, but He has the ultimate and final say over all our lives. Our denial of Him only impacts us not God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has established the confines and parameters by which we live and have life. To use our life and the lives of others for our own promotion and self-good thrusts us into the shallow end of the pool where we can make a big splash. But, is a big splash what we truly desire? How much more should we desire to be immersed in the fullness of God’s presence inwardly and outwardly? To dive in and sink into the presence of God and find the true peace of God’s love for us is that call to faith which He offers to every single person. It is the life of the Spirit.

To learn to swim through the waters with confidence and surety is actually what Jesus may have been offering to Peter. Peter could splash around in the Sea of Galilee with his brother and cousins and call it fishing. When Jesus found them it was unfulfilling and unsuccessful fishing. They cast out their nets with growing frustration. They probably scared more fish away than they brought into the boats. Jesus called him to “let down” his nets. There was a peace about what he was told to do. He didn’t just drop them. That would serve no good purpose. But, with the centering direction of Jesus, the cast of the net flew lightly over the water and landed in perfect peace. The result was a catch beyond belief. The effect was a greater belief and trust in Jesus. So, trusting was he in Jesus that during a stormy trip back across the Sea of Galilee he would step out in faith. Hear above the wind and waves, the confessions of the disciples who saw something on the water coming in their direction. They said “It must be a ghost” before they recognized it was Jesus. Jesus calls to them. Peter responds, “If it is You, Lord, then let me come to you on the water!” Jesus replied, “Come!” Peter stepped out of the boat as easily as he had learned to “let down his nets.” The result was the experience of walking on the water as Jesus was walking on the water. His focus was not on himself. It was not about himself. Or was it? What if Peter still believed, as the others had declared, “It is a ghost!”? What if what Peter had said to himself, “If it is Jesus and it is His ghostly presence [meaning life after death], then let me join Him in the ‘after death experience’ instead of this ‘near death experience.’” But, Jesus wasn’t dead. He was very much alive. He wasn’t an apparition on the water. He was the “Way, Truth and Life” on the water. The world did not faze or impact what Jesus was determined to do. He was coming to the disciples who were in trouble. He was the Savior, after all, and for the disciples to die with such false precepts and shallow faith did not glorify God. When Peter stepped out in faith, most likely to preserve his own life without concern for the others, he was confronted with the truth. This was a real world experience. It was not a figment of his imagination. Jesus was no apparition or hallucination created out of fear. In that moment, Peter forgot how to swim by faith. To remember how would be akin to walking on the water with ease letting down each foot one step at a time. But, instead, the reality of the world began to swallow him up. That moment of calm, as if the storm and the stormy sea did not exist, came to an end. What Peter found was that he had stepped out of the boat and was sinking down below the waves. He may have gone no further than one step before it happened. It may have seemed like an eternity. But, drowning brought him back to that first world experience. It showed him how much he still needed Jesus. Jesus was there. He pulled Peter up and out. They stepped back into the boat. Jesus calmed the storm and the stormy sea. The disciples all marveled. In that spiritual peace which Jesus knew, the storm existed but had no effect on Him. It did not change Him. He was still God’s person and the person of God. He was not His own. To be anything less than that or to believe He was more than that would be a denial of the truth that the Spirit and He were one. That, my friends, is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit-to believe that we and the Spirit are not one. And if God will not save us from such blasphemy, then we must determine for ourselves to not be guilty of it. We still have the opportunity to walk by faith, to sink or swim. The choice is ours. The consequence of that choice is God’s to make.

TODAY’S PRAYER:

Father, You have shown us from beginning to end the way in which we should and can walk by faith. We desire to be of one mind, one heart, one spirit, one faith and one birth. As we come out of the waters of life in which we are first born, let the blessing of Your Spirit come over us so that we are born again. We put our focus on You and will walk by faith and not by sight. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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