Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Father, Comforter & Savior

Loving God for the sake of His holiness is a perfect form of love. Loving God for who he is, because he is worthy. And in practice this makes perfect sense to me, because I have always longed for justice in politics, and even my heroes in politics are flawed. My heart aches for true justice in world poverty, in the abused under classes, the minimum wagers. My heart aches when I see a prideful but just leader, because they have succeeded in one area but failed in another. But when I look to the life of Jesus I adore, because of his perfect holiness, humbly serving, and despite all the lies about Christianity and Jesus, none can take away from me what the Bible actually says, and when it's objectively inspected, there is no sin in the life of Jesus, perfection. Unheard of, truly. At that moment I am adoring God for the sake of his holiness. That is worship. I can also love God for the sake of his love. But that's another direction entirely.

There are three areas that God provides for us, as his children.  He comes to us as the loving parent, the Father.  The Father who throws a party when we stumble into his arms.  The Father who keeps us safe, who shields us and protects us.  The Father we take refuge in.  The Father who raises his anger at those who hurt us.  The Father is the sovereign role, the sun to my earth as it were.  I revolve around the Father, his sovereignty, his desires for me.  He is the ruler.  He is the God, I am the servant.

Another role is that of the comforter.  God comes to us as the friend, the encourager.  He comes as the changing spirit within us.  He comes as the face to face companion in day to day life.  He speaks through us in very personal ways.  He hears our prayers even when we whisper them, or say them in our heads.  God the sovereign sun in my sky, yet he is also the light in my heart.  He is also the presence next to me, encouraging me, comforting me, loving me, and filling me with all joy.

Then there is the wonderful role of God, the Savior.  He comes as my hero, as my king, as my wonderful redeemer.  He is the source of all my inspiration.  His life is the perfect example for me to follow.  He makes a way for me, when there was no way at all.  He removes my sin, on the cross.  He saves all humanity, all across time itself.  Jesus Christ is the completion.  He is the finished work.  He comes as the suffering servant, providing the example, but much more, he provides the removal of my sins.  There is no role like this, in any other religion, nothing touches the life, death, resurrection, and heavenly ministry of Jesus Christ.  Jesus washes away my sins on the cross, and gifts to me a coat of perfect righteousness.  

Without Jesus, there is no Father in my life, and there is no changing Spirit.  

Together these roles of God make up the Christian understanding of the trinity, which I hesitantly accept.  Very simply, it's like this, there is one God and he has three hats, sometimes he has his Father hat on, then sometimes his Spirit hat on, and sometimes his Savior hat on.  That's as simple as I can put it, one God, three hats.  (I heard that from Tim Keller, I know, I'm just borrowing the analogy.)

I was praying the other night, you know, just my nightly prayer before bed.. and something happened.  I'm not sure exactly what.  But I felt a powerful presence in the room with me, and the most vague outline.  I don't know exactly what happened, but it was like my Lord was in the room with me.  And.. you know I thought about it.  That's what I believe, whenever I pray, anywhere, God is hearing, God is near, God is listening intently.  The powerful presence though, wow.  I trembled at it..

Becoming a Christian has been the most wonderful and trans-formative journey I've ever been on.  It's also been the hardest thing I've ever done.  But a strength comes that just wasn't there before.  I'm doubly challenged, yet I can also feel the strength given from God to complete every task.  He is that kind of provider.  His only requirement is that I dedicate myself entirely to him. 

I feel special.  Often challenged.  Sometimes lucky, other times blessed.  Sometimes I'm angry, other times.. tired.  Being human is odd like that.  We have victory, yet paradoxically the evil seems to grow.  The church grows as well in the world, stride for stride, matching move for move against the kingdom of Satan.  It's mysterious.  I wonder, when will it finally end?  When will we finally have the renewal of the natural world, and the renewal of our physical bodies? 

I often struggle to understand the mysterious words of the book of Revelation.  It really ought to be known.  The issue comes for me in Revelation chapter 20.  I don't understand the timeline, the progression of events.  I don't trust interpretations I've read, so I'm waiting until I have the chance in my studies to go through Revelation extremely carefully to best understand things after death.  That's the focus, after death, and the idea of the 1st death, and the 2nd death.  The city of New Jerusalem, with walls and gates, and some sort of darkness outside the gates... so incredibly mysterious.

We tend to get it wrong as humans.  When Jesus came two thousand years ago the Jews thought the coming messiah would restore Israel, and bring the kingdom by military conquest.  These people, the religious leaders of that day would routinely memorize the entire Old Testament.  And they got it that wrong.  I don't trust the evangelical books and established ideas too well, unless I've also put my hand in and actually read the scriptures.  I watch diligently now as well for anything the modern church is doing that is not biblical, but culturally based.  The oppression comes when old non-biblical traditions are forced onto people as law.  

There is so much failure, mis-allocation of funds, corruption, greedy mega-churches, division, condemnation, foolish decisions, selfishness..  I feel like I always have to be on guard.  

The situation today, reminds me of the situation in the movie the Lord of the Rings, the fellowship of the Ring.  The kingdoms of men are divided and leaderless.  There is corruption everywhere.  Everyone is kind of half asleep at the wheel.  The church can't seem to hold the evil at bay anymore.  

Compare Gondor to America, kind of past it's prime, spread too thin, becoming corrupt, poor leadership, and it's armies of Christians can't hold the evil orc hoards at bay much longer.  If Rohan is Europe, they're kind of scattered about, unprepared, way past it's prime of living Christianity.  Their leadership is corrupted and ineffective.  Compare Isengard to the Vatican, extremely corrupt, about to join the enemy.. it's just a ripe situation for evil to prosper and grow exponentially.  

I guess that's just how it is.  Christianity since it's very beginning has been rejected and hated.  It's always been on the very edge of destruction.  Whether after the crucifixion of Jesus.  Or later during the Roman persecution of the church in the 1st and 2nd century.  At the time of the fall of Rome to the barbarian tribes.  And again, when the Muslims invaded Europe.  Yet again as the Catholic church became corrupt, all the way up to the reformation and the divide of the universal church.  It's just been one desperate situation after another.

But God always shines through.  Jesus always makes a way.  Just like Gandalf, riding about between Rohan and Gondor, here and there gathering up the strength of humanity to face evil.  In the same way we're always facing destruction, desperate odds as Christians.  Always a new evil overruns, splashes across the gates in flood fashion.  Yet we can always rely on our wonderful risen Savior Jesus Christ.  He is the returning King.  Jesus is always there to gather the church into unity, at the last moment, to face down endless millions, hoards of darkness, with just a few hundred brave Christians, just a few obedient servants.  

He is our light and our salvation.  No matter how dark and twisted the evil on Earth becomes, in Jesus our victory is complete.  Our work of obedience to him in these dark days, unconditionally, is what brings glory on us, and more so, on him.