5.19.15–>”Constructive Confrontation: Hebrews 5:11-6:3″

confontation1

Healthy Confrontation (not pictured)

Hebrews 5:11-6:3

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.

You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity… [NIV]

This passage suggests to us that loving, well-thought-out confrontation comprises an important aspect of Christian community. Such admonition must be well-timed, must be offered with the right motives (the author obviously wants them to change for their own spiritual well-being rather than for his reputation or benefit), and must be offered both with encouragement (he will quickly turn to mitigation in 6:9), and with specific suggestions for action.

It is worth the risk of being misunderstood and being the object of someone’s defensiveness in order to challenge them and be a possible catalyst for their growth and maturity. Keeping the “peace” by remaining silent means staying where you are, remaining stagnant, and eventually regressing, most likely.

Bill Hybels says, “When people submerge their true feelings in order to preserve harmony, they undermine the integrity of a relationship. They buy peace on the surface, but underneath there are hurt feelings, troubling questions, and hidden hostilities just waiting to erupt. It’s a costly price to pay for a cheap peace, and it inevitably leads to inauthentic relationships.”

The church must be a “dangerous” place of vulnerability, where love demands more than the guarding of personal ego and truth looms larger than peace. Yes, pain plays a part in this indispensable activity of authenticity. Yes, this pain can be remarkably productive.

Yesterday, I was listening to “The Power of Vulnerability,” a workshop by Brene Brown. I highly recommend it! In it, she was sharing one of her mantras when faced with a tough situation in which she knows she needs to tell someone “No.” Before giving her answer, she repeats to herself three times, “Discomfort or resentment?” 90 seconds of the discomfort of disappointing someone, or much longer lasting resentment over telling someone “Yes” to save face? You can end up angry at the person just because you couldn’t say no.

All groups of Christians need to progress in their faith, to mature, to be challenged. Without challenge, how are we sharpened and honed? Sticking our heads in the sand, if allowed to prevail, will lead to spiritual demise, turning a community of faith into a mere crowd held together by formalities. The term “disciple” is used 261 times in the NT and is used broadly to refer to all who belong to the church. That only certain “super believers” are to be disciples is just not supported by the writings of the NT. We’re either a full-on apprentice or else I guess just auditing the class. Just checking it out.

A friend of mine who reads these emails everyday is not afraid to challenge me on them, to ask questions, to disagree. I so appreciate him, for it really sharpens me and makes me better–makes me think. If he just kept quiet, what good would it do? We’re not here just to rub each other’s butts, wait, or is it pat each other on the back? Anyway, we’re also here to make each other better and to assist in our maturing in the faith. To push one another. Have you met people whose faith has not changed a single bit for decades? It’s just weird. We should be growing and maturing in every way–spiritually, emotionally, physically. If I’m stuck, I want to be challenged.

Here’s three guidelines for healthy confrontation we can glean from this passage:

  1. The confrontation must be given with the right motive (i.e., to restore those confronted to spiritual health) and in a context of love and encouragement. The one offering rebuke must go through self-examination to see whether he or she is seeking to minister in the situation out of a broken heart and for the betterment of those being confronted. We must ask whether we seek to build up or tear down, that is, whether we want the other person(s) to walk away renewed or we are simply out to get emotional revenge for our own hurt feelings.
  2. The confrontation must be well thought out and well timed. Off-the-cuff comments offered at an ill-timed moment can be more damaging than helpful. Therefore, we do well to write out our thoughts and pray through them, reflecting on them in light of Scripture. The author’s words in this passage were artistically crafted and, thus, the product of much thought. That he waits until this point of the letter–after laying such a rich theological groundwork–speaks volumes. In building his sermon, he waits patiently for the right moment to confront the listeners boldly with their problem.
  3. Finally, the person offering rebuke should also offer specific suggestions for action when appropriate. Don’t you love it when someone just tells you how much you suck with no follow up as to how not to suck? When I was a personal trainer, I found it ineffective to tell a client, “Hey, you’ve gotten really fat since Christmas. See ya next week!” It was much better to offer something like, “You’re looking a little thick around the middle, why don’t you try eating a salad for lunch once in a while.” (For those of you who don’t know me, I’m not really serious.)

I got a lot of this stuff today from George Guthrie’s commentary on Hebrews just FYI. If I were turning this in for a college class, I’d probably fail due to plagiarism.

 
In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

5.18.15–>”The Source of Eternal Salvation: Hebrews 5:1-10″

 

face of welcome

Hebrews 5:1-10

Although He was a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. 

When He had been made complete and perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him…

It is your work to clear away the mass of encumbering material of thoughts, so that you may bring into plain view the precious thing at the center of the mass. -John Collier

The all-important center of the Christian faith is not anything we believe; it’s the person of Jesus Christ, with whom we are invited to have a life-giving relationship.  -Gregory Boyd

Often I wonder if we’re more clouded than we realize. If we, even as Christians,  depend on so much besides Christ for Life.

My friend Andy had a great observation the other day. He said we need to rethink the old saying “We all have a God-shaped void that only God can fill.” With that saying, there’s the assumption that the void is empty. It’s usually not. We can fill it with not-God things, and we have. So we do not even realize, for a while at least, that we’re missing something. We can mask the symptoms of soul sickness.

This reminds me of Jesus saying He did not come for those who are well, but for those who are sick. Perhaps by sick, He meant those who think they’re just fine. Why go to the doctor of you’re not aware of any sickness or even any symptoms?

I hear Jesus saying to us today, “If you’re not wholly dependent on me for your sole source of Life, then you’re not really living. Whether you realize it or not.”

Do we rely more on our belief system than the person Jesus Himself? Or de we go to the Bible for Life, instead of the true source, Jesus Christ? Jesus Himself warned sternly against this in John 5:39-40. “You search the Scriptures because you think they will give you eternal life. They do in fact tell about me, but you refuse to come to me for that life.”

It’s a seemingly subtle difference, yet this is what the surgical Logos of God can parse out and reveal to us, if we open ourselves up to Him and allow Him to have His way with our thoughts and beliefs.

We just need to be careful of going to everything but God Himself for our deep needs. Not talking surface needs like groceries. I go to Trader Joe’s for that. But when faced with soul needs, do we go directly to the source? (Just to be clear, the Holy Spirit may very well point us to the Bible for what we need at the moment. The point is that we are to ultimately be seeking God and not some means as an end itself.)

This past weekend I was having a little moment. Let me tell you about it. I’d been listening to The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene, and watching episodes of Cosmos hosted by Neil DEGrasse Tyson. Then hopped on YouTube to check out more material along these lines. I love that stuff, learning more about the wonders of God’s handiwork. But at one point, hearing some of the atheistic and agnostic points of view, my brain started to melt, I felt this weird surge of doubt, and experienced a shaking of my foundation.

Or so it felt.

Yesterday morning, as God via Hebrews reminds us, I went directly to the Source, instead of giving in to the temptation to search out refutations and arguments for Intelligent Design or whatever. I just talked directly to Jesus about it. About how I felt, what I needed from Him, where my thoughts were going. And I felt a calm come over me at first. Then a prompting. One of those Holy Spirit promptings that is difficult to put into words. But sitting at the desk in my prayer room, I was led to glance over at the large stack of books I’ve  read only halfway through, and the one that stood out (like a light shining on it, you know?) was Benefit of the Doubt by Greg Boyd. And I thought, that’s the next one I’m gonna focus on and finish. I can hardly describe the blessing and peace God gave me through the reading of this book yesterday. I had put it down months ago to concentrate on other stuff, and what God spoke to me through the page right where I had left off months earlier was exactly what my heart needed right at that moment. Another one of God’s orchestrated coincidences as I’ve graciously experienced so many times before.

I don’t need to go into the detail of what I read since that’s not really the point. You can see from the above quote a snippet of what I got.  But I will say that the reiteration of the centrality of Jesus Christ being most important to the Christian life as our source for Life was the comforting reminder my soul needed, and I believe a direct gift from God in response to my call upon Him for help. (Was that a run-on sentence?) This is eternal salvation experienced right now if you ask me.

I was reminded that my foundation does not come from having unshakeable certainty in my beliefs, which can easily become an idol itself (certainty of being right), but rather the very person Jesus Christ who has visited me and been experientially real in my life here and now. When that is your center, you do not need everything else to add up exactly as you think it should, or to be empirically verifiable.

Looking directly to Jesus for Life in a posture of humility, belief, surrender, and openness to whatever He may give, will bring the rich reward of soul contentment, at just the right moment, which you will obtain from no other source, for there is no other source for such contentment.

In the name of Jesus, Soli Deo Gloria

5.17.15–>”Our Compassionate High Priest: Hebrews 4:14-16″

jesus_high_priest

Hebrews 4:14-16

Well, then, since we have a great high priest who has gone right through the heavens, Jesus, God’s son, let us hold on firmly to our confession of faith.

For we don’t have a high priest who has unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin.

Let us then come boldly to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us at the moment when we need it.  [KNT]

(This section is a major transition in the letter, and gives a great 50,000 foot view of what has been said thus far. The author is concluding his exhortation, and getting ready to go into the great exposition of Jesus’ high priesthood.)

We have a very compassionate and understanding high priest. Due to Christ’s divinity He has made relationship with God possible. Due to Christ’s humanity He can literally sympathize with our weaknesses. He does not judge us as if we had no difficulties whatsoever, but compassionately knows what we go through.

Frequently, I praise our daughter Gabriela for how well she does in her school work. The reason for this is because of the great difficulty she must overcome due to her eczema. Though we have confidence that she can overcome it and excel at her work, that is not our demand. We take into account the obstacle to concentration she faces, and let her know we see it, and are so proud of her.

Do we have a proper view of the God who Jesus revealed to us? Is He not full of compassion, mercy, understanding, and grace? Instead of a solemn reckoning when I meet Jesus, I envision it more of Him smiling and telling a story like, “Man, one of my customers in the carpentry business was such a pain in the tukas! Every single thing I made was never good enough for that guy. I had to pray a lot every time I interacted with him. I understand your frustrations. I had many myself.”

And because we have such a wonderful, loving high priest, we can approach God with bold frankness. The verb in verse 16 is present tense meaning it is an ongoing approach of God. Let us constantly draw near to Him. May we not forget the context from the old covenant. Before Jesus, the only person allowed into God’s presence was the high priest, who entered the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle once a year on the Day of Atonement. He offered a sacrifice on that day to win forgiveness for all the people, yet they were still locked out of God’s magnificent presence. But under Jesus’ high priesthood, we find ourselves in a vastly different situation. We may enter the very presence of God on a continual basis, and do so with great confidence because of the door Jesus opened for us. There, we find grace to help us when we most need it.

We have full access to God. We have actual help from Him who overcame the world, who went through all afflictions while not giving in to sin. But it is only help to us if we so choose to confidently approach Him who first drew near to us.

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Jeremiah 33:3

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:13

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

5.16.15–>”The Surgical Word of God: Hebrews 4:12-13″

lewis-word of God

Hebrews 4:12-13

God’s word is alive, you see! It’s powerful, and it’s sharper than any double-edged sword. It can pierce right in between soul and spirit, or joints and marrow; it can go straight to the point of what the human heart is thinking or intends to do.

No creature remains hidden before God. All are naked, laid bare before the eyes of the one to whom we must present an account.  [KNT]

The word or voice of God can go in between that which seems inseparable. One way in which it is so powerful is that it can parse out the separate components of our being that we merely see as one big mess.

Why is this so powerful?

God’s word exposes the reality of what is inside. Our thoughts and our intentions. And not only that, but shows us the make up of those thoughts and intentions. To know how something works, you take it apart so you can see all the hidden pieces and where they go and what they’re attached to. This is what God’s word does to us. It takes a apart that which we thought could not be separated, thus showing us more clearly the truth of who we are and what we must do to become whole.

We’ve all at least heard of the parent whose answer to the child’s question, “Why do I have to?” being a short, “Because I said so!” At times, I guess this could be appropriate, but it is not all that helpful. Our heavenly Father is much more patient. His word exposes the why on His end as well as ours.

For example, let’s say you tell “white lies” all the time. You don’t think much of it, for it has become a part of you, a self-protective mechanism you’ve learned and adopted over your lifetime. Moralism would simply say “Stop lying. You shouldn’t lie.” It “shoulds” all over you, as we say. But the word of God goes deeper. It lays the axe to the root as opposed to the mere cosmetic trimming of the outer branches to make the tree look good. Being pierced with the word of God, your eyes may be opened to the fact that you lie to always put yourself in a good light because it is so very important for you to look a certain way to others. Further down the rabbit hole, you see that what God thinks of you is not enough, you must have approval of people to be happy. The divine nod of approval is just not enough for you. Further still, you see that you really don’t trust God to care for you or vindicate you. You must defend yourself because God certainly will not. 

It is very powerful when you have a true brush with the divine. You see many things all at once, not just one thing to stop doing or else! (Though this could be the case, I guess.) When you “touch eternity” as they say, you encounter God, you are exposed. Be it via an angel or whatever. This is why people always have to be told to not be afraid. Encountering the numinous is frightening indeed because of the unknown factor. God’s word shows you in an instant the nature of your heart, the nature of His heart, and you are not the same. God disassembles you to show you more fully and accurately what the heck is going on inside. 

Jesus said He did not come to bring peace, but a sword to cause division. Heavy.

Soul and spirit are so close together that they can hardly be told apart. Same with joints and marrow. The surgical word of God is sharp enough to go between the two into the tiniest of spaces. Then we see more clearly what needs to be removed. For instance, you may feed the homeless for God. Or so you think. Then at some point you genuinely encounter God and the word of His truth. Exposed, you can now see that your real intention has been not to relieve suffering or work for God, but to atone yourself for the wrongs you did when you were younger. At the deeper level, you see that you are helping the homeless out of guilt at the end of the day. God shows you that He took care of your sin through His Son and loves you now as you are. That there’s nothing you can do to atone. It is an impossibility and does not compute. When touched with this reality, you are so moved to love and fulness and humility, that you go back to feeding the homeless solely and sincerely for the love of God and for the love of other people in need. You are now performing, agenda-free, for an audience of One, and you are more satisfied than you’ve ever been, knowing that, thru Christ, you are enough. You are enough. Your need for self-atoning was exposed and removed. This could not have been seen on your own, standing at the surface.

If we were toys in packages, our box would read: “Disassembly required. Your Father puts it together.”

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

5.15.15–>”Entering God’s Rest: Hebrews 4:1-11″

SabbathRest1

Hebrews 4:1-11

Now we who have believed enter that rest…

for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work just as God did from His.

Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. [NIV]

Two requirements for entering God’s rest are belief and obedience. As intimidating as those two words may be for some, they’re really just entering and resting. Pretty simple actually.

And with these two, we must of course turn away from our conviction that we know better how to run our life.

In the OT, all the Israelites had to do was enter the Promised Land and rest. But they just could not seem to trust God and take Him at His word. If things didn’t look right to them, they took matters into their own hands. They had to keep striving. And it cost them. Dearly.

We’re most satisfied, content, and at rest, when we give ourselves away, first, in abandonment to God, then, in loving service to others. For in trying to please ourselves, there is no end, no satiation.

Obedience is a good thing. It is the way to rest, and the way Jesus said to remain in His love. You might say belief is entering, obedience is resting.

An active, beautiful rest. Total trust no matter how things may look to us.

I am doing something in your day that you wouldn’t believe even if you were told.
Habakkuk 1:5

I’m trying to get my girls to obey me by putting their shoes in their shoe drawer every nite. Not because I’m trying to be some tyrannical enforcer, but rather to teach them and show them the satisfaction and rest that comes from putting things in their proper place. Would they rather go on a shoe scavenger hunt every morning, stressfully racing against the clock to get to school on time? Or would they rather know where their shoes are and be ready early, having some extra time to play?

Everything in its proper place, most importantly our relationship with God, brings shalom.

Once, Mother Teresa was approached by a brother in the order who complained that the rules of his superior were getting in the way of his ministry to lepers. He lamented, “My vocation is to work for lepers.” To this Mother Teresa replied gently, “Brother, your vocation is not to work for lepers, your vocation is to belong to Jesus.” This is the essence of real Christianity. All else relates to and flows from this relationship.

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

5.14.15–>”What is Intimacy?: Hebrews 3:7-19″

Perichoresis

Hebrews 3:7-19

Today, if you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts…They are always straying in their hearts…Take care, my dear family, that none of you possess an evil and unbelieving heart, leading you to withdraw from the living God.


 

A lot of heart talk in this chapter.

What does God most want from us?

It seems to be our hearts.

What does that mean?

Intimacy.

We talk about intimacy with Christ, but do we know what we’re saying? We always need to be careful to not throw terms and phrases around as they can lose their meaning and intended connotation over time.

Intimacy is sharing. Sharing yourself. The more mutual sharing going on between people, the more intimate they become. The more you give of yourself in vulnerability, the closer you become to that person. And if they give the same to you, then you really become close. To be naked and unashamed with one another, as Adam and Eve were in the garden. No holding back. Total giving, and total receiving without judgment. This is intimacy. This is what we mean when we say intimacy with God. To cultivate sharing, and thus, nearness with God.

The way to intimacy with God is no holding back sharing of all of your self with Him. And it is also an open and receptive receiving of God for who God is. I don’t think it is to be just one-way. There is something healing and peace-giving about the uninhibited, unprotected giving of one’s self to God. When you bear your soul to Him, without pretense, and experience His acceptance, smile, and embrace, you are renewed in ways available through no other source or means. Sure, God already knows it all, but maybe He wants you to share yourself because He knows what it will do for you, not so much because He is clueless as to how you feel or what you desire.

Then we listen. Don’t be that person who always shares and never listens. Newsflash: You drain everybody around you! Thankfully, God cannot be drained of energy and get tired. His mercy endures forever. In listening, we let God be God. So many times we box God in. I always think of that scene in The Jerk with Steve Martin where he’s working at the carnival thing, and tells someone that they won any prize of their choice–as long as they choose it from within this tiny 5 inch by 5 inch square on the shelf of prizes. This is what we do with God, projecting our own ways and comprehension on to Him. “They do not know my ways”, therefore, we do not really believe that He can do abundantly above what we can ask or think. So, in reality, we believe in some sort of god of our own making. As has been said, “We shape our god, and then our god shapes us.”

The less intimate with someone you are, the less you know them, the easier it is to judge them. It’s very easy to judge the actions of people we hear about in the news. We don’t know them at all, so we can sit and point out there faults and stupidity all day long, really dehumanizing them when you think about it. But someone you know really well, spend a lot of time with, and care deeply for, you defend them–even their most ridiculous of actions if you love them deeply. You know them, so you have a deeper understanding of them, and see why they did what they did. It could be as simple as, “Hey, they’ve had a really rough week. Do you know what they’ve gone through lately?” Or, “If you knew their story from their growing up, you’d realize how well they’re actually doing and have adjusted to a somewhat normal life.”

We do the same with God. The less you know Him, the less you understand, and then the more we project and guess and speculate. We judge God. The less time we spend with God, the less intimacy we have, the less we know Him. The more our hearts stray from Him, and we become more and more distant. I’m not sure how you get to know God without a vibrant, open prayer life. How do you foster intimacy without communicating? And I’m not sure how well you get to know the God who Jesus revealed without immersing yourself in the gospel accounts of the New Testament. Otherwise, you’re likely to get to know…someone else, I guess.

And so we encourage one another every day so that we do not become hardened, distant. We need constant reminding of truth. We need encouragement from one another to get to know God for who God has revealed Himself to be.

Then we enter His rest. I think He says we enter His rest because when you become intimate with someone who loves you just for who you are, then, whenever you enter that person’s presence, it’s rest. You can be you, naked and unashamed, and it is beautiful. You experience their full embrace and feel you are, finally and thankfully, home.

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

5.13.15–>”Jesus is waaaaay better than Moses: Hebrews 3:2-6″

Moses

 

Jesus > Moses

Hebrews 3:2-6

For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house.

But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God.

Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ. [NLT]

Moses was certainly a righteous dude. He was revered in Judaism like no other. He talked face to face with God. I mean you can just sense his greatness from that penetrating stare in the above photograph unearthed by archaeologists in 1956. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

These persecuted Christians (addressed in the Letter to the Hebrews) were tempted to go back to the old ways of Moses and Law because it was what they formerly knew. And it was safer. At this time in the Roman empire, nationalistic religions, like Judaism, were actually tolerated. They posed no real threat, and were allowed side by side with the religions of the empire. Christianity was much more dangerous, and threatening to the powers that be.

Our author here tells them that Moses was just the warm-up act. Pointing to Someone far greater, as well as the inauguration of a “system” far superior to the old. We could even think of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) as mere warm-up that points to the One through whom God would rescue all of humanity!

Moses, we see, was definitely someone to be looked up to, but only because of his faithfulness to God. Not for himself. You do not praise a piece of art more than the artist. The artist designed and made the piece of art.

Sticking with our example of warm-up acts, let’s just say that…I was the warm-up act for, ohhhhh, Jon McLaughlin. Sure, a few people may be entertained by my performance, but they will be far from satisfied. Then comes Mr. McLaughlin, and people are ecstatic to hear someone who can really play his instrument and sing, not only on key, but beautifully! No one in their right mind is gonna be like, “Bring Rob back out!” after seeing Jonny Mc”L”. After experiencing him, they’ll just want more of him. Don’t we all…

My job was to get the crowd ready and point to Jon. If I am admired at all, it should be for that reason. I fulfilled my role and did a great job of being replaced by Jon, who is the real talent.

Moses represents the Law (Torah) and the old covenant between God and His people. Jesus replaced Torah.

We revert back to the old inferior covenant when we make Christianity about things we have to do as opposed to Someone we need to love.

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

5.12.15–>”What is Your Center?: Hebrews 3:1″

Jesus High Priest

Hebrews 3:1

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.  [NIV]


 

The “therefore” refers back to chapter 2 which ended with, “He himself has suffered, you see, through being put to the test, and that’s why he is able to help those who are being tested right now.” The author is calling the readers back to a serious focus of their thoughts back to the One whom they had claimed was the great center of their lives. To the One who has been through it all Himself, and can thus empathize with their current plight. It is the living Christ who is able to help and who is willing to help us through any situation. He experienced the worst of rejection and the worst of death, two of the things we fear the most.

As our High Priest, Jesus went into the very presence of God Easter weekend to bring us to God and secure our place with Him there. I believe this is what Jesus was referring to in John 14 when He told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them. He was going to a place as a human that they would also be able to go to.

This verse reminds me of the great animated movie “Rise of the Guardians” where North (Santa) asks Jack Frost, “What is your center, Jack?”

What does our faith emanate from? What is our center as Christians?

Well, Jesus.

We are Christians, not Churchians, or Bibleians, or Social Justicians.

We are followers of Jesus Christ, and therefore, it is of first and utmost importance to fix our thoughts, to center our life’s focus on the person Jesus Christ. We live from the center out. Jesus deserves our most serious and careful consideration of who He is and what He has done. If He is who the book of Hebrews says He is, then He is worthy of our most humble worship.

What is your center?

It will color everything you think and do.

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

5.11.15–>”Bridging Humanity & Divinity: Hebrews 2:10-18″

Hebrews 2:10-18

That’s why He had to be like His brothers and sisters in every way, so that He might become a merciful and trustworthy high priest in God’s presence, to make atonement for the sins of the people. [KNT]

There’s so much deep truth going on in this periscope, that one hardly knows where to begin!

For the sake of not exploding our finite minds, let’s just focus in on one aspect for now. To be one with God, which is our true destiny, we as human beings needed a bridge between divinity and humanity. This is a great truth that we in no way on our own, with our very limited power, could bring to any sort of reality.

Sure, we can build the Eiffel Tower and smash atoms, but we have no clue or ability as to how to become one with God. You can meditate and feed the homeless until you are green in the face, but without divine, incarnational atonement , you will be no closer to union with God. There’s some things we are just not capable of. And until there is that acknowledgement and surrender to our ultimate powerlessness and, therefore, total dependence on God’s work, we shall remain on the other side of an infinite chasm from God.

We needed a bridge that could only be built by one who had experienced fully both divinity and humanity. Only that One could bring us together. No one else. Nothing else. This is the biblical picture.

5.10.15–>”The Already, Not Yet Kingdom: Hebrews 2:5-9

Already, Not Yet

eschatology-chart

Hebrews 2:5-9

And you placed everything under his feet.

When it speaks of everything being subjected to him, it leaves nothing that is not subjected to him. As things are at present, we don’t see everything subjected to him.

What we do see is the one who was, for a little while, made lower than the angels-that is, Jesus-crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by God’s grace he might taste death on behalf of everyone. [KNT]

We currently live in this “in-between” sort of age. With the introduction of Logos incarnated (God dwelling among us in human form) into the universe, the kingdom of God was inaugurated here on earth. It has been infiltrating humanity, and spreading ever since the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Yet it obviously has not been fully realized, or consumated. There is still evil, pain, death, and war. We live in a tension, if you will. If the kingdom of God came to us in Jesus, why is there still all this crap going on? Well this letter called Hebrews, among other places in Scripture, tells us that we are in this time between Christ’s two advents. And until the second advent, there will still be suffering. At the same time, there will be much joy and healing due to the inaugurated kingdom spreading among us. Statistically, most of the healing organizations in the world giving relief to suffering are Christian, or started by followers of Jesus.

This also gives us an interesting insight. We have a distorted view many times of what life should be like, of what the Christian life should be like. Who says what life should be like? Who has that kind of authority? For much of history, persecution has been the normal Christian experience. God has not always answered affirmatively the prayers of the afflicted. If that were the case, no Christian would ever die, get sick, be abused, stub their toe…

So maybe we’re asking the wrong question. Perhaps it’s not a matter of “Is God answering prayers?” but rather “How should we respond when we do not see everything submitted to Him?”

The answer lies in our perception of reality, and of the nature of our Christian faith. Our worldview. Here’s what Larry Crabb says concerning Western Christianity: “we have become committed to relieving the pain behind our problems rather than using our pain to wrestle more passionately with the character and purposes of God. Feeling better has become more important than finding God. And worse, we assume that people who find God always feel better.” Focusing on our situations, problems, and pains as primary, rather than the purposes of God, moves us away from important aspects of following Christ. We must follow Christ in the way of suffering. God’s people have always been persecuted as counter to the power systems of the world. This is just how it is at times. And this has always been how Christianity has grown. Where is it growing most today? Not in America where we have it so easy. It is in Africa and China, and other places where there is oppression.

We know this is still happening today in other countries. People are being imprisoned, beaten, murdered by beheading for their faith in Jesus. This is happening now. Christianity is not necessarily Pollyanna right now all the time.

“The problem of evil for the Christian lies not in God’s abilities, nor even in our perception of His will and timing, but in our perception of Jesus.”*

We need to make sure we are following the reality of Jesus and the Christian faith and not something we have made up or have swallowed hook, line, and sinker from someone else. From someone who says it’s suppose to be easy and happy all the time.

Scripture tells us that God is bringing about all things in the end for His purpose, and that He works everything out ultimately for our good. He does not tempt us or inflict evil upon us, but will redeem and restore everything. This is the great comforting. It is up to us to trust Him for this even in the midst of pain and suffering.

When my friend of 22 years, Jeff, died of Leukemia in 2010 barely at 40 years old, it sucked. It reeeeeally sucked. He left behind his wife and three children. But it did not prove that there is no God. It did not definitively show that God does not answer prayer. We are just not seeing all things consummately subjected to Him yet. What we do see, if we so choose, is Jesus in the midst of our sufferings. We can grow though any circumstance into someone closer to Christ Himself, if we look to Him for comfort instead of focusing on our circumstance.


*George Guthrie

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria