Monday, March 28, 2011

That They would be one...

The plea for unity in the Church could not have come from a higher source. Christ prayed for the unity of the church, as recorded in John 17. Paul was writing about the same accomplished fact when he penned Ephesians 4: 1-7 ("one Lord, one faith, one baptism..."). But notice, this is a target that the church cannot hit by aiming directly at it. If we aim at unity for unity's sake we invariably end at comprise, and before long all is lost (as occurred with the Quakers, Unitarians and now the "Emergent" Church). The only way for the church to live out the unity that Christ has won for us is to keep our eyes firmly fixed upon Him, as He is revealed to us in His word and His indwelling Spirit (Who, among other things, illuminates the Bible to the believer). We are only truly walking with each other when we walk towards Him.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Show Us...

In John 14:8 Philip makes an amazing request. Jesus has been doing and saying strange things all night: washing His disciples feet, telling them that where He is going they can't follow, and promising that He goes to prepare a place for them in His Father's house. The disciples are markedly perplexed. Thomas asks for clarification, he wants Jesus to point it out on a map (v. 6). Jesus tells Thomas the HE (Jesus), himself, is the way. Philip asks for the insane. He asks for what Moses was denied: a glimpse of the Father. Was their exasperation in His voice when He responded to Philip? Philip was looking for a sign and was missing The Miracle. Are you holding your breath for a miraculous sign, when all you really need to see is Jesus?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Walking by Faith

Imagine being Noah and starting the long task of building the ark. Or Abraham, leaving his homeland and everything that he knew because he was called out by God. Moses, walking back into the Pharaoh's court and wondering, "Did that really happen, or did I dream that?" Better yet, imagine being the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant up to the banks of the constantly flooding Jordan. Sure, Joshua SAID the waters would stop, but it's easier to say that when you don't feel your sandal sinking into the mud. How would you like to be Elijah standing in front of a thrice soaked altar and thinking for that one fleeting moment, "This is either going to be the best moment of my life, or the last!" Peter, stepping out of the boat and finding that the water doesn't give way under your feet? Stepping out of our comfort zone seems to be part of the Lord's prelude to doing something amazing. Where will your feet go today?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Draw Near

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

When Adam and Eve sinned, everything changed. Before God walked with them in the cool of the evening, after that they were driven from the garden of Eden. The rift between God and man was great. And few walked with the Lord thereafter. When God appointed Moses and used him as His tool to redeem the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, he alone had personal fellowship with the Lord God. When he went up on the mountain to speak to God, not one other person was to go near. Not even an animal should be allowed to tread across the mountain and live. God's holiness is too great. The people knew that His perfection would destroy them, so they asked Moses to be the one to represent them to God and God to them. And so it continued.

The Law continued this pattern. Only on very specific occasions was anyone to enter into the Holy of Holies. Only once a year was anyone allowed to go so deep into the temple. The dividing curtain was thick and forbidding, and clearly illustrated the reality: Under Law you are separated. No access. The Ark communicated this repeatedly. When a well-meaning bystander meant to brace the Ark from falling he died immediately. Even in our best intentions access is denied to the Sacred, to the Holy. In the book of 1 Samuel the Philistines capture the Ark and its very presence causes them continual suffering: tumors growing on them. In the end they had to return it. Access denied.

So what changed? Did God become less holy? Surely not! Did He decide to compromise His otherwise perfect standards? Never. How then can we even imagine being able to "draw near with confidence" when so many saints before were destroyed by this Holiness? The answer, of course, lies in the person of Jesus Christ, and our relationship with Him. We may easily confuse confidence with "self-confidence" for the two words are often used synonymously, but in this case, they are antonyms! We draw near with confidence exactly because it is NOT self-confidence! We draw near because it is confidence in Jesus Christ, His character, His nature, His righteousness. If we ever imagine we approach on any other grounds we place ourselves amongst the most deluded and pitiable people alive. Because of what Jesus has done, we may come to the Lord with confidence. Praise the Lord! What a privilege!