Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Terrible Beauty

Past ages often thought of God as too removed, too unreachable. Our age suffers from the opposite affliction; we see God as too close, too familiar. We call God "Father," but we think of Him more like a grandfather — someone who hands out gum, hugs, and forgiveness with equal ease.

The Bible has medicine for both ills, and we need to look at its prescription for us.

Psalm 97 describes God in a way that is meant to inspire the awe that we lack:
The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him
and consumes his foes on every side.
His lightning lights up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all the peoples see his glory.
It makes me think of an approaching thunderstorm: a giant, dark mass flashing with lightning that shakes the very earth. It has a terrible beauty that befits a wielder of both life and destruction.

We should respond to God with the same mixture of enchantment and fear. We must be protected from a glory that would kill us. He reigns in righteousness and justice, while among us there is none righteous, not even one. If even the mountains cannot stand before the LORD, what hope do we have?

The sane man, finding himself in the presence of God Almighty, says, "Woe is me! for I am undone."

It's only when we grasp the terrible beauty of our God that we can truly appreciate the grace given to us that we may enter into His presence boldly, not fearfully, as sons, not slaves, and approach the King of Glory and call Him "Daddy."

To borrow from one of the greats, "'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

God as Father

One day Jesus said some words that were revolutionary to His hearers: "This, then, is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven...'"

Never before had anyone dared to call God "Father" — not in a personal sense.

Today, we've lost the revolution. Christians and even non-Christians easily believe that God is their father and, more importantly, they are His children — even when it's not true.

Some even dare to call "all God's creatures (i.e., animals and plants)" His "children." They're not.

We're all God's creations, yes. Whether directly or indirectly, God has a hand in the creation of every living thing. That doesn't make us His children.

If I make a chair, it's not my child. My daughter and I are building a robot dog; it's not my child either. If I could create a bacteria out of chemicals in a lab, it wouldn't be my child. Even if I could cobble together a human being out of spare parts, that being would not be my child.

My child is the one I begat, not made.

Or, if we successfuly adopt, my child will be the one we choose to adopt.

God has chosen to adopt some humans. Specifically, He's chosen to adopt those who place their trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. "[T]o those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."

God didn't have to save us. We're all rebellious sinners, desperately wicked. Once He rescued us from that, He had every right to view us as pets, slaves, servants, or (if He was feeling really generous) friends. But He chose to go one step farther, adopting us into His family, naming us "heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ."

Stop today and marvel at the gift we've been given. Wonder anew with the apostle, "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!"

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Gospels are Eyewitness Accounts

This video (which I can't seem to embed) is a presentation of some relatively new information showing the minor details of the gospels support the idea that the canonical gospels are (or at least are based on) eyewitness testimony (as opposed to later legends).

It's about 50 minutes long, but it's well worth your time.