Belief

Tuesday Devotional: 1 Peter 1

Read 1 Peter 1:13-25bible

Nothing about the new life in Christ is realistic.  Everything about it pushes the standard limitations we place on what is possible.  Approaching the word of God and how it applies in this world is completely unrealistic from the reality established by the world we have been raised by.  Everything about the new life in Christ calls us to expect what our world teaches us to never expect.  The world leads us to believe that certain things are not to be expected, that certain things are out of the range of possibility, and certain things simply cannot be.  The concept of genuine selfless love for another is clouded by our belief that the limits of our human hearts can neither handle nor be expected to exhibit such unrealistic love.  The concept of complete abandonment to an authority that has the power to permanently change us from paralyzing insecurity to confidence and contentment is not realistically possible. We are wary of anything that might tempt us out of the real world and into a mere fantasy state.

There is no synchronicity between the new life in Christ and the life we were born into in this world.  The two lives are in a state of constant contradiction.  The more one is overcome by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, the more one begins to perceive oneself as a “stranger” in this world.  A stranger that has a home somewhere else, but is nonetheless in this world with a job to do.  That job is not to reproduce or replicate the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of others.  That job is to simply bear witness to the power of the Holy Spirit in our own life.  One cannot simply share the expectations of the Gospel with another and expect that those expectations be received, followed and cherished.  Rather, they are completely unrealistic and should receive an adverse reaction.  If one is listening and understanding the implications of the words of the Gospel, these words are not liberating.  To begin with, they are crushing by the magnitude of what they expect from us.  They are unrealistic and impossible.  They should not be taken seriously— if the words are the only witness.

However, witnessing the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in the life of another suddenly opens the door of possibility.  The real-time power of the spirit of Christ in man is the only witness that can effectively lead a person from utter desperation in the face of the Gospel’s expectations to complete satisfaction and hope.  We are not meant to read the words of God as one reads literature.  Literature is from man and for man and thus will be received by man as man would naturally receive it.  The words of God are from God, for man. They will shake us, press us and ultimately change us.  Our expectations when standing in the presence of God must only be to expect something entirely different from ourselves.  However, what we should expect to find is beyond our reality and supernaturally good.

The Virgin Birth: Crucifixion and Resurrection

The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re reflecting on the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. 

(source)

Support for belief in the Virgin Birth can be traced backwards through five important events in the history of the Christian Faith:

  1. The Ascension
  2. The Resurrection/The Crucifixion
  3. The Gospel
  4. The Virgin Birth

This week, let’s consider how the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus support our faith in the Virgin Birth.

The Crucifixion and the Resurrection provide similar ideas and thus will be discussed together. Just as the previous post referenced the discussion of the Virgin Birth as being less important than the discussion of Christianity in general, the same point applies to the Resurrection and Crucifixion. While Jesus never personally wrote anything down, and while we do not have physical proof of his body or a tomb, his name has come down to us as arguably the most important in human history. Debates about Jesus are typically over whether or not he was divine, or thought of himself as divine, or if his followers applied those attributes to his name only after his death. However, historians and scholars alike agree that there was, in fact, a man named Jesus Christ, who lived in Israel at the time that the Gospels place him there and that this man was crucified.

Just as the discussion of the virgin birth leads one to belief in the Ascension, the same applies to the discussion of the Ascension leading one to belief in the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In order for there to be Ascension, there must be a place from which to ascend. As history brings Jesus to us a real man who was crucified under Roman governor Pontius Pilate, this man named Jesus must have died under this punishment, and that death should have ended his followers’ allegiance. With crucifixion a death reserved to torture and execute the worst of criminals, the followers of Jesus must have been, and were, as stated in the Gospel of Luke, in utter grief and confusion at the time of his death on the cross.

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
Luke 24:13-24

The fact that grief of these disciples became devotion, worship, and belief gives us a story of a man that was completely man enough to die but likewise God in his power to rise and ascend in victory. At this point, as we trace the story of Jesus backwards from the Ascension, we are left with the man of Jesus: clearly in this world, but not from this world.