Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The great servant of grace

"Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching." Isaiah 42: 1-4 (NRSV)

When I think of a servant, I think of someone who carries out orders. For example, a waitress takes orders from customers, delivers the requests to the kitchen, and then serves the prepared food. Servants are very busy people, and they tend to have more responsibilities than one person can carry out efficiently.

I am sure that many of us feel very inadequate in a servant role. We serve in different capacities for our families, for our work, and for our churches, friends, and societies. Our service may oftentimes require more than we have time to accomplish. Although we may serve with gladness, there is always an urgency to try to get more done.

In Isaiah 42, God describes His servant, Christ, who waits to bring forth justice. Christ is not shouting "Hurry up!" Instead, in this picture, Christ is patiently waiting for the bruised, battered, and weary. When I pray for my family, my friends, my church, and the world, I sometimes become overwhelmed with the needs for which I am praying. There is so much need that I feel that I will never be able to pray enough. This is when I must remember that Christ and the Holy Spirit will never grow weary of interceding for us. I may be weary, but God is not. I see so much injustice, and I think that it needs to be corrected right now, but God's plan encompasses everyone and everything. Christ knows when to wait, and when to act, we must learn to wait for His infinite patience and wisdom.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Creation and hope

19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:19-25

This passage of scripture is about hope, and about God’s great purpose for creation. This scripture reveals a bigger picture of God and creation than we may ever be able to fully comprehend.

There are many bad things happening in this world. Actually, the word horrific is a better word for the pain and suffering humans endure. This is a very narrow picture of creation and man, but it is often the picture I find myself looking at and relating to. However, the scripture above gives us a bigger picture of creation than the sinful, suffering world in which we live.

In verse 19 of the scripture above, Paul states that creation longs for the revealing of the children of God. Simply put, God created everything for man. The entire universe was set in motion and subjected to futility for the purpose of hope that God gave for man.

There seems to be no logical sense to this. Why would God create such a vast universe only to let it decay and be destroyed by man? Paul says, in verse 22, that creation has always been groaning in labor pains, and verse 20-21 tells us that God created everything in the hope of man’s redemption. God set the universe in bondage to decay so that everything will hope for man’s redemption! What astounding grace! How great must God be to create everything—from distant stars and galaxies to a grain of sand on a beach—for the hope of our redemption.    

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

God is always truth

“Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God’? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” Isaiah 40: 27-28 (NRSV)

Isaiah 40 is one of many creation narratives in the Bible. Israel is wallowing in self-pity and complaining because God does not pay attention to them or vindicate them. The narrator—the prophet—is reminding Israel that the Lord makes Himself known to us, and that He knows us far better than we can even know ourselves.

God speaks His truth to us through Christ, creation (the natural, physical realm), and scripture, and all are in harmony. Science interprets creation, and theology interprets scripture, and sometimes, these interpretations are wrong because they are the work of man.  But the work of God--creation, scripture, and Christ present the constant truth of God.

Isaiah 40 reminds us that God is everlasting (He is outside a frame of time), He created the physical realm and beyond (eternity), He never tires, and His knowledge is more than we will be able to ever comprehend. This is why we continue to study the scriptures to learn more about God. This is why the quest for scientific knowledge will never end. This is why Christ will always conquer sin. It is because God’s reach spans the tiniest particles that make up matter to a vast, endless eternity. When we seek the truth, God will always be manifested.