Wednesday, September 24, 2014

It's in the book....

One of the demands of the Christian life is that those of us who claim to "be" Christian should prove it by citing scripture passages.  I know.  I expect this of others, so today I plan to make reference to those passages that (1) guide my life today and (2) have provided wise counsel over the years.  You need to remember that at my age and having spent a lot of those years "thinking" that I was a Christian, but I trust I can put them in order for you to understand my beliefs.  Here goes:

Let's start with Genesis, the first chapter, the first verse.  "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."  I not only understand the reference to the earth, I have seen His heavens, up close and personal.  Go back to my post entitled, "Are you listening...?" I offered earlier this month.  I was on a troop ship headed for Japan, had climbed up top and had a bird's eye vision of the heavens above at night and the view remains as one of the most exciting experiences in my life - proof to me, that there is a Creator and His accomplishments are beyond the knowledge of the average person.  In talking about this with others, I was offered further "proof" by a NASA engineer who attended our church in Orlando and was explaining how they control the vehicles they launch into outer space.  He called it the "Colossian cohesion" and referred to our Lord Jesus in a verse in the Bible that states, "And He is before all things and in Him are things held together."  (Colossians 1:17)

When I was in high school, I still recall a "debate" that was held in our Science class, between me and another youngster who believed in evolution and I still wonder why anyone who has ever examined the debate that continues to this very hour, would want to believe in a microbe with the potential to create, not only all of the vital organs that sustain our daily life, but the minds through which we can reason for ourselves, what is right vs. what is wrong.

There are literally hundreds of verses in the Bible through which we can substantiate our faith, but the one that comes closest to being real to me is found in the book of Galatians 2:20-21.  "I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ Jesus lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."

You may not want to accept this, but I have lived with it for almost forty years.  When I read the passages involving His crucifixion, I "see" the three figures.  One, of course, is my Lord and Savior and to His right and and left are two others; to me, it is myself and a vision of the next person I will meet.  He did not die in vain as the day would come when I finally came to the realization of my own greatest need and the fact that the whole world needs to know of this reality.

I had no idea of this until I picked up that card in the ORU bookstore, the one that read, Acts 1:8, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be My witnesses - wherever you might travel... even to the remotest part of the earth,"

But Lord, I might protest and He just smiles and whispers in my ear, this reminder,  "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to you remembrance all that I said to you."  (John 14:26) 

I have several books on my shelf that were deigned to teach us about the Grace of God and there are literally hundreds of explanations and all designed to meet our needs in those times when we are confronted by the everyday trials of merely existing on this planet.  To me, the definition is simple, it is God in the person of Jesus Christ, as empowered by the Holy Spirit, living in the believer, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty plus days a year.  To me, a need arises and He is there.  Fear comes up and He is there.  Anxiety threatens our peace and He is there.  He is everywhere present in the life of the believer, at all times.  That is Grace.

There is a verse in the gospel of John that I have heard interpreted many times and it seems to me, it is mis-interpreted most of the time.  John, chapter ten, verse ten.  "The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy.  I (Jesus) come that they (those who believe in Him) might have life AND might have it more abundantly."

As you are aware, I live near the "buckle" on the Bible Belt and there are churches everywhere.  I have found a area radio station that insists that it is there to proclaim the truly "good news" of our Lord and Savior.  I will be honest, I listen to it only because they have an "angelic" voice who listens to callers and prays for those with needs.  She apparently is there to fill in between their regular broadcast schedule of churches in the area and the nationally known Christian broadcasters that seem to be "on air" every time you tune in to a "Christian" station.

I don't understand most of them.  Yes, I know they would like to report conversions as a result of their interpretation of the Bible, but they spent more time talking about the ravages of sin that they do, extolling the glory of God; too often laying blame at the feet of those who seldom hear of His redemptive power, or worse - in my opinion, ignoring the ultimate joy of following in the footsteps of our Lord.

Alas, they can refer to their efforts as I do my own.  It's called Christianity.  But I have to ask, is it?

I lived almost 45 years, going to church regularly, getting married in the church, having our children baptized in the church, attending to many of the "chores" of the church and I wound up thinking that Joy was only the name of the guy occasionally sleeping with my Mother.  None of that helped me to overcome the day to day trials and tribulations that are common to the everyday citizen.  As  result of that "false" faith, I became an unworthy father and an unfaithful husband and there were times when I thought there was no hope.  However, there is hope, there is also life and life abundantly, there is real joy and as the old song does, the "half of it is still unknown".  Oh yes, I have now discovered a church where the gospel is offered to one and all, regardless of one's race, creed or sexual beliefs. There was also a day when we were all  thought of as sinners and most of us are therefore, grateful to God for His faithfulness and our opportunities.

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