Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11 NLT
That first word in this passage is an important one. “Therefore God elevated him…” only comes after then description of Jesus’ emptying himself of all he could rightly claim as God. Instead God the Son pours himself out in profound humility in order to become human. Only in this way can he save us, and in his astounding love and grace, he comes to do that very thing. As followers of the unique Son of God who is at once God and man, why do we have such difficulty seeing what comes before “Therefore?” We all want God’s blessings, with showers of his goodness, and we seek his unending mercies toward us. But how much of ourselves are we willing to pour out so that God may exalt us? Perhaps much of the paucity of our lives as believers comes from the fact that we have no room to receive what God wants to pour into us. Only be pouring out, can we hope to be poured into. First things first, make the vessel empty, and then it can be filled. Are you making room for him to fill you?
Many people look at God as someone far removed from the pain and suffering of our world. They see God’s inaction during human tragedies as a sign of either His weakness (He can’t do anything) or a lack of care (He won’t do anything). Both of these options start from the wrong premise in thinking that we are God’s judges, and we require Him to justify His behavior to us. I wonder how God looks at this world. This wonderful gift of freedom and responsibility to each other and the rest of creation has been taken and so abused and mangled as to be wholly unrecognizable as something from God’s goodness. We abuse one another and destroy His beautiful creation, asking only for God’s intervention when we have messed it up so badly (if we ask at all). We reject His salvation and the grace He offers, and then wonder why He won’t explain Himself to us. I think we have repeatedly broken the great heart of God, and have caused grief beyond measure to the one who loves us. Man-made famine, war, disease, and poverty, hatred of our fellow beings, the abuse and murder of innocent children, the reckless abandon of our lives devoted only to self-satisfaction no matter who gets hurt, all work to cause immeasurable pain to God. A day is soon coming in which balance will be restored in all of creation by His righteous judgment. We need to be about the business of repairing the damage we have done before He returns.
I am a big fan of scientific exploration and discovery. From the unimaginable reaches of deep space to the infinitesimally small world of the subatomic that surrounds us, I find I am constantly amazed at the intricacy of everything in existence. It all speaks to me not of a cold universe in which things happen for unknown reasons, but of a careful and meticulous design brought about by a Living, Loving God. As any scientist will admit, science can explain how things work, but only God can explain the WHY. With each new day there seems to be a new discovery, and I find that so exciting. There is so much more that humanity has yet to discover, analyze, and understand, and I cannot wait to see what that may be. The most exciting part for me however, is that no matter how elusive the entire story may be, I can know the joy of knowing the Author. That is worth more than all the knowledge in the world.
How many of us wake up on Sunday morning to get ready for church. That question assumes that we bother to go at all. Perhaps we drag ourselves out of bed to go about our Sunday morning routine without too much thought, then we pile the family into the car and off we go. We arrive at church a little later than we had hoped, but they are still singing the first hymn or choruses, so we should be OK to blend in without too much fuss. We then participate for the next hour or so and then leave only to repeat the same scenario next Sunday. There is something wrong with this picture. Where is the preparation or expectation of meeting with God? Is it any wonder that so many of us (and by extension our churches) lack God’s power in our lives? What if we started preparing for our next encounter with God when we leave the service where we met Him this Sunday? Perhaps we need to start thinking about Sunday as an opportunity to meet with our Father who loves us so deeply, instead of seeing church as yet another of the week’s obligations that must be met.
I decided this year that I would take a forty day “fast” from Facebook. Considering the amount of time that can be wasted there, how much better to use that time to pray and think about my relationship with God? When you think about it, it’s incredible how much time we waste engaging in activities that can never change or improve anything, internally or externally. TV, cellphones, games, computers (and the list could go on and on) highlight just one aspect of technology’s negative impact on our time. I don’t know if this post will automatically repeat on Facebook, but of it does, you will know I am not ignoring you. How about you? Is God saying anything to you at this time of year that He would like you to think about?
Tomorrow will mark the beginning of Lent for this year. Many evangelicals will simply ignore the day (not to mention the season) and go on their way. As I get older though, I am beginning to appreciate the value of such observances. The value of the introspection and repentance that the season calls for are deeply meaningful, and have been throughout the history of the church. These opportunities to recall who we are and what Christ has done for us, in us, and through us should not be dismissed or ignored. This is a chance for believers everywhere to move into a deeper relationship with God, beginning with the next 40 days. The Easter season is the most significant period in the Christian year. Don’t we owe it to ourselves to take the time to dwell on that truth?
Today marks the beginning of my online blog. All are welcome to read and share your thoughts. As a pastor, I cannot guarantee that I can always respond quickly, but I will do my level best to do so.
I am the pastor of First Baptist Church in Montreal. I am now in my second year of ministry there, and it has truly been a blessing from God. The people are wonderful, and the support has been incredible.
At any rate, my blog is now set up so I will be back from time to time to chat. I’m happy to be here, and to experience feedback from the online community. God bless your day.