Monday, May 30, 2005
Friday, May 27, 2005
Was Jesus' physical form really tall, dark and handsome? According to Isaiah 53:2b, He was remarkably unremarkable in appearance: "He has no form nor magnificence that we should see Him; nor form that we should desire Him."
By contrast, 2 Corinthians 11:14 says, "And did not Satan marvelously transform himself into an angel of light?" C. S. Lewis had it right: The most physically beautiful of Narnia's creatures was evil personified.
If I had the talent to paint such a picture, Jesus would appear as a ragamuffin, "for we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7) Any graphic depiction of Jesus tends to limit our appreciation to what we see, rather than opening it to His full revelation. Perhaps the Old Testament law against making "graven images" was intended to circumvent just this human response.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
A man I met the other day, who stopped for just a chat, Had nothing in his look or style to make me doff my hat.
But when he held me in his gaze, those eyes! oh yes those eyes Displayed a world of deepest love that took me by surprise.
And in them I saw agony, of scope I cannot fathom. Pain there was in cosmic scale from voluntary passion.
How could he have smiled such a smile of joy contagious, A smile of perfect openness that, from man, seemed outrageous.
I tried to ask him who he was, the words stuck in my throat. His whole face beamed with glory bright, and laughter without gloat.
He turned as if to go his way but I said, “Sir, please wait.” He turned his head to take me in, and said, “Can you set bait?”
He saw my puzzled face gaze back, and then he smiled again. “A fisherman are you my friend, come, and you’ll fish men.”
This man of love and pain and joy, whose smile intoxicated; Could it be this was for me the work I’d long awaited?
“Sir, I need more time, you see, my family’s still living.” His fading smile broke my heart, for mean excuses giving.
“You must want to turn away from human loyalties’ binding, For your future lies with me, and sinners we’ll be finding.”
What could I say to this man who would love me to the death? I said, “Yes, Lord, I’ll follow you, fishing men till my last breath.”
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
My dream dentist's office was in a massive, four story, cubical building. On entering I faced a large, open area, like an arboretum, with flowers, trees and fountains. The professional offices were arranged along balconies that ran around three sides of the building. The fourth, northern side, was glass.
I climbed the stairs to my dentist's waiting area, found a very comfortable easy chair, and sat down to read while awaiting my turn. This was an unusual waiting room, not only because of the comfortable chair, but also because a glass partition split it into an enclosed inner area, in which I sat, and an open outer area.
My boring magazine allowed my eyes to wander, and I noticed a young man who was seated on a bed in the outer part of the room. He was neatly dressed in a dark suit, reading a large, gold edged book that I took to be a Bible. (My dreaming mind never thought to wonder why a bed was part of the waiting room furniture.)
I concluded he was a fellow Christian, so I heaved myself out of the easy chair to walk over and introduce myself. "Do you mind if I join you?"
"Please, sit down," the young man welcomed me.
As we exchanged pleasantries I noticed the title on the cover of his book. It told me volumes about his religious affiliation. "I see you're reading from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures," I ventured, "are you a Jehovah's Witness?"
"Why yes." He seemed mildly surprised. "Do you know about the Witnesses?"
"I know a little about your Bible translation, and that God can use any translation of His Word to work his will our lives."
My memory of the rest of our dialogue is vague. Knowing I was a Christian, the young man began trying to challenge my beliefs by asking a few of Brooklyn's copyrighted, tough questions. I responded by sharing what my Father had been doing in my life, and how my relationship with Him had changed me. I told him of God's love, how much it meant to me, and how it inspired me to love not only God, my family and friends, but others as well.
At some point in the conversation I awoke. It would have been only an interesting dream, if not for its aftereffect on me. I was immediately grabbed by my vivid memory of the dream and my lingering feeling of the love for the young man. It was a love beyond friendship, or even kinship. It was a love I've never felt for anyone except my own children, but it wasn't simply a father's love. It was the kind of love or concern I might feel if I thought one of my own children was at risk.
As I lay awake wondering about the significance of the dream, it struck me: God had allowed me to experience an infinitesimal part of the love he demonstrated by sending his Son to save me. Sure, I had long given intellectual assent to His love, but I couldn't understand how it could cause Him to subject His one and only Son to such a disgraceful death, just so I could live with Him forever. Then I realized that Jesus, being the divine Son of God, was the only one who could survive the judgment that would have caused me to be separated from Him for eternity. His love provided my only way to receive forgiveness of my sin.
Because of that God-given dream, I now know the truth. He loves me, not because it's in His best interests, not because it's in His job description, and not even because He has to as part of his nature. God loves me simply because He WANTS to. He loves me, PERSONALLY! He is genuinely fond of me. He enjoys my company when I go to Him in prayer, and He loves to hear the praises pour out of my love for Him.
That truth has transformed my life's attitude from grudging acceptance of circumstances to heartfelt thanks for everything that comes my way. I now know that my loving Father allows the trials in my life only because they will ultimately benefit me. Like a loving parent who allows his or her children to suffer the minor consequences of their stubborn, disobedient behavior, God allows me to suffer, but He hates my pain almost as much as He hates the sin that caused it.
God's love, which now means so much more to me, is for anyone who is willing to accept it. My response to His loving sacrifice was to reach out to him, to accept the gift of His only Son Jesus. His gift is life more abundant here on Earth than I ever thought possible. But that is less than a snowflake on the tip of the iceberg of eternity. Jesus submitted to the horrible death on the cross to exchange His holiness for my/our sin, earning for me/us the perfect holiness required to spend eternity with our loving Father God in heaven.
That sounds almost too simple, like a four year old's Sunday school lesson. But God purposely made it simple so we spiritual morons could respond to Him.
It's as simple and profound as this: The Bible says you have only two choices once you realize you have no goodness of your own to offer our perfectly holy God. You can accept Jesus' gift of His own divine holiness, or you can continue in your own way and suffer the consequences now, and for eternity.