“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Monday, September 16, 2019

WHEN YOU STAND ON HOLY GROUND

Here is holy ground. Where is that? It is that special place where we happen to be when we find ourselves at the end of our resources; our hearts are broken, and there’s no more pretending we are not okay. We are not okay! It is that place in the broken human heart where we are about to give up. We desperately cry out to a yet unknown God in a universe that seems empty and without meaning. And yet we hope as though we are making our last stand with a last inkling of hope against hope. That is when we stand on holy ground, although we don’t know it. It is holy ground because that is the place where God can finally reach us.  We discover that there really is a God who can and does intervene in human affairs and even the lives of individuals, like you and me.  We discover that the universe is not empty—there is a Word that created it all that somehow that Entity is concerned about a insignificant tiny being like you and me in than insignificant place in an immeasurable vast university. 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”— John 1.1-5

Somehow, a spark of hope appears and shines through our despair where it was only darkness .  Slowly, yet wonderfully, that spark breaks into an open flame that leads us out of our darkness into the light of the Entity we desperately cried out to and we discover that Entity has a name: Jesus Christ.  He is the ‘He’ who was with God in the beginning.  Once we have encountered Him, we know we will never be the same again. The Word encompasses the idea of Divine love and is found in the person of Jesus Christ, just like those fanatical street evangelists, preachers and popes, and Christian praise and worship songsters keep saying.

“… but in these last days he [God] has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.” – Hebrews 1.2-4.

If creation is God’s general revelation, then Jesus Christ is the personal revelation of God’s love.  It’s hard to believe there is a Cosmic Truth and that Cosmic Truth is the very definition of love. We are astounded to discover that we have access to that Love through Jesus Christ—but there it is: Truth.  So simple yet so utterly profound and vast.  I believe this truth of Love is simple so it can include imbeciles like me yet profoundly vast —beyond human understanding—because God is love. The experience doesn’t make sense yet it’s the only thing that does makes sense in a way that is inexplicable but brings us weep with a child-like Joy. We discover that we are not insignificant at all! 

When we first encounter God through Christ, who is the light of the world, His light does what light always does: It drives back darkness in our lives. If you are anything like me, that light with its intense purity reveals what men of older times called sin. Sin is what separates us from a perfect God. God takes you and me just as we are but He does not leave us as we are. He wants us to be perfect just as He is perfect and be with him forever.  A perfect God must that or He would not be perfect. Imperfection and perfection cannot co-exist any more than light and darkness can occupy the same place at the same time. God does not want us to remain where we are He wants the best for us. But how can we move toward His perfection when we are so imperfect? We have and will continue to fall short of His perfection. We know (in our hearts) we don’t deserve to be in the light of Christ. How do we become worthy of God perfection and love? Well, on our own, we can’t.  We have fallen short of the glory of God and always will fall short of the glory of God, if we are left to our own means and devises.  We know it.  But that is no reason to fall back into despair. We are justified before a holy and righteous God through Christ’s righteousness.  

“… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” —Romans 3.23-26.

If our sins make us unworthy to stand before a perfect, holy and righteous God, why would He give us His Son for us? Love.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” — John 3.16-21.

Real love involves both mercy and truth. Mercy is grace and truth involves righteousness. 

If God is all about love then why isn’t He willing to just forgive and forget our sins?  He is, that’s what the cross is about. Christ takes away your sins and mine through four aith, confession of our sins and repentance. Like love, it’s that simple, so simple even a small child can understand and accept it. In fact, Jesus said that unless we become as a child we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. 

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Sonfrom the Father, full of grace and truth.” — John 1.12-14.

Through faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, we become children of God. Small children are totally dependent and trusting of their parents. That is how we are to be with God, our heavenly Father: Child-like faith that trusts not childish faith that demands. We rest in the assurance that our heavenly Father knows what is best for us and so we surrender to His will—whatever that might be. We pray Thy will be done, not my will be done. Surrender.

That is a place of holy ground. We discover a beautiful and heart-rending mystery. It is in surrender to God that we find freedom and liberty. That is holy ground.