Monday, January 6, 2014

God's Story: The God Who Meets Us [3]

Today is, officially, the last time you can greet someone with “Merry Christmas” until next December 25th. If you are still greeting people with Merry Christmas, you have more than likely received more than one strange look. 

A funny thought occurred to me just now. What if Christians, who know the Church Calendar, would lovingly answer back, “Yes, and Merry Christmas to you,” when greeted by someone who simply says “Hello,” or “Good to see you” during the Christmas Season (especially as days seven and beyond come and go)? Would it be newsworthy? Would a “War on the Christmas Calendar” news thread begin on our news stations when people do not respond in kind? OK, facetious part of post now done; moving on...

On this last day of this Christmas Season, we will briefly reflect on a common story heard when people start to follow Jesus. The story, which is wonderful and I praise God for them, basically says someone’s life was “a mess,” and then they met Jesus...after this encounter their life got “straightened out,” and here we are. Again, I am thankful for stories like this. They show us how God meets people where they are.

Yet we need more (and more) of another type of story. The type of story we need to hear more of goes something like this... “my life was great and I ‘had it all’...and then I met Jesus and He turned my world upside down.”

I know there are stories like this, we just need more of them – especially in our culture where pursuing the American Dream is so prevalent. After all, Jesus is not merely Savior; He is also Lord.

What I mean is the “my life was a mess until I met Jesus” story has a Savior bent to it. Yet the, “my life looked like the epitome of success until I met Jesus...” story has a Lord bent to it.

This reality does not make one story better than another. Nor does this reality mean Jesus is more Savior than Lord or vice versa. Jesus is both, and we need a growing realization of both if we are going to truly follow Him – wherever He leads us.

Interestingly, while I said the “my life was a mess” type of story has a Savior bent to it, the aspect of Jesus is Lord/King is not absent from this story. E.g., there are ways citizens of a kingdom behave – because their King says so (and this is bigger than morals).

Likewise, the “my life was great until Jesus ‘messed it up’” type of story has a Lord/King bent to it. Yet it is not devoid of the reality of Jesus as Savior. E.g., the person who has been rescued by Jesus (saved) had been deceived by the cultural influences around them. While they need a King to submit to rather than their own wants and desires...they also need to be saved from the hole in which they live (perhaps after having dug it for themselves).

Yes, Jesus is Savior and Lord. If your picture of Jesus does not include both....then something is askew, and you are not following the Jesus of the Bible.

And let us not forget that on this Epiphany Day we remember how the magi came to see a toddler Jesus; the One who, as a baby, was born King of the Jews (Mt2:2) as He would also save people from their sins (Mt1:21) some two years earlier. A significant aspect of this is those magi were Gentiles – not ethnically Jewish. Praise God for revealing the mystery hidden for ages through Jesus at the visit of the magi (as non-Jews worship Him – cf. Mt2:11), as it became crystal clear that God was undoing the effects of sin on all of His creation – including those who are not ethnically Jewish. I, for one, am very glad for this truth.

Praise God for the Miracle of the Incarnation. May we be increasingly shaped by it as 2014 progresses. May we be able to look back on 2014 (and grow to realize in the moment as well) and see a combination of how Jesus both “straightened out” our lives and “messed them up” for God’s glory. And may we desire no other way.

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