Friday, December 25, 2009

The Approachable Christ

If Christ were not so helpless He would not have been so humble.

The shepherds were told great news that would be for all people. "Today in the City of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the LORD" (Lk. 2:11). When they had seen the Babe they went and spread the word about who He was and everyone was amazed.

As an infant, who could Christ have defended Himself from? Who could He have stopped from coming into His presence? He could not be discriminate - and this - this is the way in which a Savior, for us, came into our midst.

In His atoning death, He was pierced in His hands and feet to a cross. He was pinned down, and unable to move, but still alive. Who could Christ have defended Himself from? Who could He have stopped from coming into His presence? The cross was His appointed time to suffer. Anyone could come toward Him with any desire. If their will was to pierce His side, or, if it was to find salvation at the very last moment, they could have their way.

"hand nailed to cross" by Horseman

Pinned down, but still alive. He could not be discriminate - and this - this is the way in which a Savior, for us, left our midst.

Thank you LORD and Savior Jesus Christ, our humble King.


agent4him said...

Wow, Michele. That's got to be one of the most powerful posts you've put up. My first "reaction" was to think of the implications of those images on my own choice of whether to be "pinned" or not. First John 3:16 does leave much "wiggle room."

agent4him said...

...doesn't leave much "wiggle room."

Sanctification said...

I hope that everyone will forgive me for not answering the lovely comments left here in the last month or so; Duane, David Wyatt, David Bell, Gary and Rose, I believe... I'm sorry. If I didn't cut the scene, I'd never get rest :(

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sanctification said...

Hi Jim,

This is the sort of quality to the good news that excites me, the quality that makes it all "pop right off the page" and move IRL - as you say, "3-D".

I have another way of describing "3-D." I think I'll write a new post soon and I hope you'll comment again.


agent4him said...

I look forward to it, Michele.

Anyone seen KC?

agent4him said...

I rejoice with you, Michele.

He is naggingly redemptive, isn't he?

Sanctification said...

Thanks for acknowledging that Jim.

So, in His birth and death he was helpless. But in the middle of His ministry He also taught,

"To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also."

Luke 6:29

It wasn't just the way in which He came, it was also what He taught, but I think He also lived it from start to finish - helpless and open with others.

Now I've been hearing, you know, that I'm enmeshed, that I'm far too gracious, 'do not cast pearls before swine,' and it has been good for me to receive this as a sort of new thing. I need to understand this though. How can I understand these two aspects in scripture? I can't help but notice how Christ is just so amazing in coming as a Son of Man, a man... willingly pinned down by the needs of others.


Sanctification said...

I just asked my husband "Why, did Jesus teach if someone strikes your cheek, offer the other also?"

He said, "So they'd match."


agent4him said...

I'll bet your husband could do stand-up if he gave it have a chance, Michele.

I oughta give some others a crack at this, but since we just finished the Sermon on the Mount in our men's ministry, let me opine briefly:

The Sermon is about the true righteousness of the Law which must exceed the narrow strictures of the Pharisees. One of the elements of the Mosaic Law that the Pharisees tried to "frame" and "control" was the lex talionis ("law of retribution") which was meant to limit the natural human tendency to escalate the response to a harm done. So "eye for an eye" was to be a gracious limitation on the principle of escalating revenge instituted by Lamech in Gen 4:23-24 that has characterized mankind ever since. The Pharisees could/would not see that the Law was meant to extrapolate to an even more gracious response that would exhibit true righteousness.

So the bare minimum "external" law was to do exactly the same thing back to the person who struck you. But it was still "incomplete" until Jesus came to fulfill it with his teaching on heart-level---not just "external"--- righteousness (Matt 5:17-20). Hence, Jesus' point regarding lex talionis was: If that's all you do, it really only gets you back to "zero"; it doesn't "accomplish" the greater righteousness that would reflect God's image. "Turning the cheek" in a situation that would call for retribution was just this kind of "heart level" righteousness that would go beyond simply "restoring equity": It was truly redemptive in its capacity to actually reverse the human proclivity to escalating violence that began with Cain (Gen 4:23-24), rather than just "getting even."

It seems to me that this is different from "not giving what is holy to dogs" or "casting pearls before swine," which involves the wisdom of investing one's "portion" in Kingdom activity, rather than foolishly dissipating it in inappropriate venues.

Sanctification said...

I really appreciated your answer, Jim.

That gives me a lot of context about the difference in His NT teachings as "some sort of exchange for the OT laws" - for those religious groups who believe that we must obey the NT to obtain God's grace.

You said,
"Turning the cheek" in a situation that would call for retribution was just this kind of "heart level" righteousness that would go beyond simply "restoring equity": It was truly redemptive in its capacity to actually reverse the human proclivity to escalating violence...

That's good. That's really helpful.

Last Sunday's sermon had this statement in it, "We want things to be fair, but God wants to give grace."

The whole Nativity story is a story not about fairness. It's a story about God's great provision in His grace. And I believe, the freedom God has to do things contrary to "reason" - all the while retaining His own integrity, all the while proving His integrity.

Yes, the righteousness of the Pharisees is exceeded by God's grace.

The LORD's ways are so amazing.

Thanks :D

Sanctification said...


You mentioned 1 John 3:16. I read it with more depth now,

This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.

The more I read this passage the more it makes me think.


Sanctification said...

Another story that reached a climax at Christmas.... But I did not want to boast, except in the LORD. Let me try my best and forgive me for shortfall.

I remember a year and a half ago, Kev (On My Walk blog) and I were getting to know one another, I believe in the "About Moderation" post. I asked him for his thoughts on Christians being approachable.

I mentioned a story of a neighbor of mine who has two teenage boys but has been in a homosexual relationship with a woman for the last ten years. She was spiritually a seeker. Politically, Oregon was attempting to pass a law that would deny homosexual right to the same as marriage, and I had a sign "No on 43" that I was considering sticking out of the ground outside my place. But I didn't. And she later appreciated it.

That was the story I shared with Kev. Maybe Kev prayed for her? If so that was wonderful! Six months after our discussion at his blog, this very woman called me on the phone asking me to take her with to church. That was last January. She was done with practicing homosexuality. She does however have a permit to legally use marijuana, so you know what she smells like. And she had basically no knowledge of scripture. But, she came to everything I did at church. She was so eager to learn, but would share unsound ideas of God. During this last year it has been rocky, for her. I have been careful to model respect and self-control and patience at our table. Shortly all those women began to see that God was really at work in her. They loved her. They said, "(Lady), you are a breath of fresh air."

I had her sit next to me in Sunday school. Her comments on who God is were just as off, and she laughed and was coarse, etc. But her testimony about God became more and more powerful. Her sons are wanting to get baptized. They believe in God because they see how God has changed her. She has shared the gospel with many of her friends who live "interesting" lives.

(more in the next comment)

Sanctification said...

(continued from above comment)

I heard how some privately whispered, "I can't stand that woman." But this Christmas, another older Sunday school class picked two families to sponsor for Christmas, and she was one. They spent $350 dollars on her because they see what God is up to in her life.

This Lady stood up two Sundays ago and said in our class, "God's standards of what I need is so much more grand than mine!" She wrote a poem of what Christ means to her. In it she understands why Christ had to come in the circumstance of an unmarried woman - so that even sinners would believe He was a Savior for them too. Everybody was touched in class. The old bible teacher's wife cried tears.

And I missed her entire testimony, because I am a loser who is constantly late to church, and instead of really trusting God, I keep justifying it again and again.

In the last year my reputation no doubt has suffered. How can it not? Imagine me always being accompanied so comfortably on my part at church with a former homosexual woman who smells like a substance abuser, who proves over and over that she doesn't really fit in with all us who've been in the faith for awhile?

I don't want to care about my reputation, like that. I will willingly be "pinned down" in this sense, and I do have passion to see the church be challenged in their comfort level by the unlovelies who are a disciple of Christ. We are saved by grace! If I'm wrong, I'll find out one day. But for now it is a dream I am sure that God has given me and for that I am very, very grateful to participate with God's love in such an exciting manner.

I praise God too for His amazing new creation by faith!

agent4him said...

Sounds to me like you are trying for Jesus' "reputation"...

Sanctification said...

One thing is sure, that sort of perfect balance (of pure offense and pure discipleship) isn't a coincidence; it only comes from God. This story is one of the most striking ones, but I reliably make a B-line to the homeless and mentally challenged and similar sort, at my church. I have a row of 'misfits' :) in Sunday school who are attached to me and I to them. That's where I feel I can see Christ. Sometimes my endorsements in the past have not been individuals who have used the investment well. I don't want it to be only my passion, I want God to be alive. I am tempted to judge long-time Christians when they don't do as I do, but that is wrong to entertain such thoughts. Others in my church are serving Christ doubtlessly the same, only we have different areas of service.

I've had doubts that I am only a rouser of rebels, an open door for trouble on the orderliness of Christian education. When I heard she stood up and testified, though, I was encouraged in the power of the gospel.

David Bell said...

Michele, thanks for sharing about the Lady. You are truly an inspiration and it comes at a time when I'm asking myself "What difference is God making in my life?" or better, "What difference am I making via God's power?"

I've been in Hebrews lately (trying to figure out the tough passages) and 10:24 comes to mind: "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." You have done just that.

Sanctification said...

Hi David,

Hebrews 10 is a good chapter for me to read today too! Yesterday I was reading Jeremiah 51:17-19

Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge;
Every metalsmith is put to shame by the carved image;
For his molded image is falsehood,
And there is no breath in them.
They are futile, a work of errors;
In the time of their punishment they shall perish.
The Portion of Jacob is not like them,
For He is the Maker of all things;
And Israel is the tribe of His inheritance.
The LORD of hosts is His name.

"Every metalsmith is put to shame by the carved image." Occasionally I have discovered, only after I am finished, that what I ended up "carving" displayed something of man and not Christ.

"having a form of godliness but denying its power."
2 tim 3:4

Even taking up some principles from scripture, I can make a "carved image." All it takes is a little bible-know-how and a bit of zeal, right?

Perhaps that is the trouble. I don't want anyone to praise me, what I want is for people to see Christ, I want to write about Christ. I want to write in the Spirit. I fall short.

I have a long way to go....

You said,
I'm asking myself "What difference is God making in my life?" or better, "What difference am I making via God's power?"

I like both those questions. Our assurance of salvation doesn't come from these things. But sharing the stories of our lives with one another can be a reason for praising God! If you have one, I'd like to hear.

2 Cor 9:12-15

For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!


blog archive

Phrase Search / Concordance
Words/Phrase To Search For
(e.g. Jesus faith love, or God of my salvation, or believ* ever*)