Tuesday, December 30, 2008

scripture, story, forgiveness

We can make keen observations as we read the scriptures - particularly things about human nature that we still see in ourselves but I'd like to think that, even more important, the holy scriptures give us opportunity to search out the story of God - who He is, what He's done. What God chooses to reveal to us is up to Him. It's our job to keep looking. Yes, His word is living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword but He keeps telling stories. Jesus told stories. We're encouraged to keep telling new generations these stories about the things God has done, encouraging and teaching them to keep God's commands that Jesus summed up in two.

I wonder if, because it's God's story and because we come to His stories through religious institutions with our scientific thinking, I wonder if it causes us to sterilize His stories. We don't get all the gory/graphic details that come from the media today. (Apparently we don't need them yet the details the authors chose to keep and not keep must be important to God.) I think we forget that all these things happened to real people, in real life, lives that weren't clean and sterile. That understanding should pull us up, not down. It means God was there and He still is . . . here in places that aren't clean and sterile.

I think we forget the "Living" part of our Living God - God of the Living, not God of the dead. Living gets messy. Babies are messy. Children are messy. "Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest." (Prov 14:4 NIV) Keeping oxen is a messy job.

God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) existed before He started telling us His story. (Should the time ever come when there is no one left to tell His story, He will still be.) His stories tell us of His power and His glory. If you ever want a word study at Christmastime - try "glory." Watch and see how often references to His glory occur beside His willingness to stoop down to the lowly.

God's story tells of our Living God becoming a man (hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, feeling, understanding, learning about his world) a very human natural birth in a barn, being baptized in a gross muddy river, walking sandled in a dusty Palestinian marketplace. It tells of his spending time in a prison, dying the death of a criminal and a traitor. And yes, He was God - resurrected from the dead but do you think He lived a sterile life? Is that possible? Do you think if He hung out with tax collectors and sinners He never heard swearing? And if they called Him friend and wanted to be around Him, do you think He spent all that time correcting them? Without sin but not sterile. He came to reconcile these men and women created in God's image back to God -his father - the God He knew.

We think of Jesus (and Father God) loving people who could or would never love Him back, forgiving people who could or would never give back to Him. He forgave and people were healed.

Perhaps we underestimate the power of forgiveness. I wonder if part of His anger in the temple was that the religous people just didn't get it. He was God and representing God but He was also a man.

Jesus came - God/Man. Does God alone have the power to forgive? Is that what Jesus came to show us? Or did He come to show us the power of forgiveness even if the person forgiving is just a man? Maybe both? Because He's God or because forgiveness brings healing? I don't know. I've always thought of Jesus as coming to set us straight, which He did, but when you think of Him as man, yet "one with the Father," it seems the stories of God and man can't help but get hopelessly tangled together. A little messy. Some people hate "messy."

God never stops being God. Jesus is still God, still the Christ - God's annointed. He was also a man - baptized in the Holy Spirit. We are men and women, but created in God's image - He left His Holy Spirit with us. Some things are clean and neat, everything in it's place. Some things aren't. Life is life. Jesus said, "I am the Life." We're encouraged to continue telling God's story, to keep His commandments, to grow to know the scriptures, Christ Jesus- the Living Word, and the power of God. No promises it will all stay clean and neat - just that He'll be there.

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