Good Wednesday morning! What did I learn yesterday? For one thing, I learned that a brother in Christ had been called home last Saturday. As is the case with us, I felt both sad for those of us left behind, and glad for Glenn. That sad-glad feeling we have at the same time is simply a product of our life in Christ. The disciples were sad that Jesus would be leaving them, but He told them to be glad for not only himself, but for themselves as well since He would be able to send the Holy Spirit. Every time a brother or sister in Christ departs this world we get that sad-glad feeling. Part of it is certainly that eager anticipation we have of knowing that it will be our turn one day.
I learned more about Christopher Columbus yesterday and this morning. Depending upon how much you want to take from the stories surrounding his life, you can cast him as a pious man struggling to bring the glory of God to a far land, or as a complete monster destroying a beautiful and simple lifestyle. As with most historical figures, we tend to seize upon the parts of the complete story that we like and play down those that we don't. The truth of the man is somewhere in between, much like our own life stories. We like to make historic figures into either great heroes or terrifying villains. Is there anyone we cannot build up or cut down? Paul began life as Saul and was as much a terror to the early church as he was a blessing later. David built a mighty nation and slew a giant, but also stole a wife and put out a hit on poor Uriah the Hittite. Adam was created in God's own image, but then decided to go his own way. Okay, I can hear everyone running ahead of me, but I did ask. Yes, Jesus is the answer to that question.
Among all historical figures, Jesus stands out as different ...to those who will believe. In His story, like the other histories, we like to grab the parts we like. Forgiveness, love, mercy, grace, and eternal life are certainly parts of the Jesus we know and love. However, justice, holiness, judgement, intolerance of sin, and that dividing sword are also parts of this story. Jesus told us that he came to save the world and not to condemn it. We like that part, but tend to set aside the part where Jesus said that he came not to bring peace, but the sword. Jesus sent out a few messages the world doesn't want to hear:
Isaiah 53:6; "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way..."
Romans 3:10, "There is none righteous, no, not one."
In between the first message in the Old Testament and Paul's message in the New Testament, stands Christ Jesus. We can come to the Father through Jesus, but only after we face those two messages and admit that both do in fact refer to each of us. Once I came to face that I was a sinner in need of salvation, only then could I see Jesus as the Savior. In Christ, I could see that my way led to destruction, while His way led to God and eternal life. In Christ, I can see that I am a sinner under condemnation, while He has paid the price and saved me from judgement. How can I know this? Easy, the rest of the passage in Isaiah reveals the true mission of Jesus: "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:4-5
We read the stories of Jesus healing the multitudes and the individuals, and we like those stories, but the healing that saves the world came during his trial and crucifixion. Jesus suffered torments that we tremble to imagine to save us from our own sin. All that, and many still refuse to believe. Boggles the mind it does, eh? :-) We can't make anyone believe. My brow isn't strong enough to beat anyone with and make them believe that way. We have a mission to give them a chance to believe by hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ. We can't force belief; we can't touch their hearts, but we can give them words and show them by our actions that we have heard the Good News. The Holy Spirit will touch their hearts and convict them of their sin. How they respond to that is their own decision to make. We know that some will refuse and some will believe; what we don't know is which ones. Spread the Good News to everyone!
Have a merry and joyous Christmas in Christ!