Mar 30, 2010

The Great Campaign

Every year, before the culmination of Easter, I seek to very consciously remember the holistic cost YHWH paid on behalf of His Creation. One means by which I have chosen to do so is through the brutally realistic and tearfully humbling portrayal of Jesus’ final twelve hours in Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of the Christ.” It always reminds me of how unworthy I am of such love, how I really have nothing to complain about. Praise God for His Love that deems us worthy.

Reviewing the history of Israel and the covenant offered to it by YHWH, the Lord of Creation, one comes to understand that God’s holiness does not allow Him to be in true fellowship with anything marred by sin. Israel’s incessant choice of things other than God shapes much of the Old Testament narrative. Fortunately, YHWH never tires of lovingly offering Israel the means by which it could return to complete relationship with Him and the presence of His Spirit. This is evident in how God continues to further define the Law given to Moses, formally beginning in Exodus 20:1-17, until that understanding culminates in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Unfortunately, the fellowship between YHWH and Israel never remained truly permanent. It was not that YHWH’s character was lacking or changed. It was that Israel’s character was lacking, too easily influenced by the rebellious lies of the fallen angel Lucifer and his followers. Thus, Israel was often pressed away from the light toward the darkness, to which judgment had to ensue so that the Lord’s holy integrity might be upheld. Israel, YHWH’s chosen people, along with the rest of humanity, was clearly too frail to maintain what was required of them by the Law. They needed liberation from their corrupted nature and the influences of the great deceiver. They needed a savior, or as the ancient prophets of Israel foretold: a messiah.

“Enemy-occupied territory,” writes C.S. Lewis, “that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage” (Mere Christianity). Hallelujah that YHWH answered humanity’s need and invaded the world as a man (Philippians 2:6-11). Jesus was the only one pure enough to fulfill that which God’s holy justice required. Praise God that it did not end with mere death, but rather continues on with the promise of life everlasting. He has risen. Relationship with our Creator, the King of Heaven, has not only been permanently restored, and continues every moment of every day through the indwelling of YHWH’s Holy Spirit, but it is offered to any who would receive it.

Yet, the war for the world has not yet ended. The rebellion of Lucifer and his angels has been raging since the beginning of time, and we are caught amidst it: the target of YWHW’s love against that of Satan’s jealousy. But by his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has reasserted his Father’s lordship over Creation. The Enemy’s stronghold has been breached. Its collapse is imminent. We have but to take up arms (Ephesians 6:10-18) and join in the “great campaign” of the Kingdom of God as more than conquerors, with faithful confidence in the promise that Jesus will one day return to end the war and establish his complete and unchallenged authority over the earth as it is in Heaven. Hence we pray, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). In it there is empowered hope. In it there is purposeful life. “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20b).

Mar 28, 2010

Articles on the Bible and Liturgy

Firstly, Aaron Stern's blog "What the Bible is not" professes a great reminder of the importance of the broad Biblical narrative; that it is about the history (past, present, and future) of God seeking relationship with mankind.

Secondly, Glenn Packiam's blog "Why We Incorporate Historical Liturgy at NewLifeSundayNight" offers some great insight into the value of liturgy in worship and life.