Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Closer Than You Think

I'm in Sacramento with my parents, taking a few days of RandR with my family after the Christmas Eve marathon in Colorado Springs on Dec. 23 and 24.  As you can see, I am writing this blog post on my I pad.  I did want to take a moment and respond to the many people who have emailed me after my Christmas Eve message, with very positive responses to my message, and wanting further resources about the main focus of the sermon, that; "Christ is In Us.". The message can be found on this website under the sermon section if you didn't catch it.  The primary basis for the sermon boils down to four main Biblical ground points;

Textual Exegesis;
Matthew tells us that God did not simply enter this world through some extra-terrestrial visit to our planet through a cloud hovering above our earth.  God came into us.  God entered, through the Holy Spirit, a 14 year old girl named Mary, and conceived in her a child.  That child was and is God - Jesus, our Savior.  God then entered the dreams of Mary's betrothed, Joseph, and told him in the deepest resources of his soul (a dream) that all was well, and to not be afraid.  Finally, Matthew tells us that God was now Emaunel - God With Us.

Hebrew Translation;
It turns out that all Hebrew prepositions are fairly broad in their exact meaning.  For example, the Hebrew preposition "beit" can be translated "in, on, with, over, under, next to.". Matthew does not really have a preposition connecting the two words from Isaiah, "Emanuel.". It's just People or "us" and God.  Matthew defines Emanuel as "God with us.". It might be possible to define that withness, if you will, as a very very close with, as in, very nearly "in".

Other Biblical References;
In the book of Colossians, Paul talks about his ministry to "pagans" there.  He says that, "It was Gods
purpose to reveal it to them and to show all the rich glory of this mystery to the pagans.  The mystery is Christ In You, your hope and glory: that is the Christ we proclaim, this is the wisdom in which  
thoroughly train everyone and instruct everyone, to make them all perfect In Christ." (Col. 1:27). In this passage Paul seems to point to perfection in Christ as a goal to be attained.  And yet, at the same time there is a mystery inherent in this "In Christness," an in-dwelling, an inside presence.

Paul's reference to Christ in us, in this passage is actually somewhat unique.  Most often Paul discusses the opposite dynamic, "us in Christ.". In Rom 6:11, 23, 8:1, 39, 9:1, 12:5, etc, etc, Paul mentions "Faith in Christ."

One of the great wonderful mysteries of our faith is Jesus' invitation to all believers to participate in
the sacrament of communion.  Jesus invites the disciples and us to take this bread and this cup, to 
"drink ye all of it," (take Christ into you), as a sign and symbol of God's eminent return in the world 
and in our lives.  This startling invitation, on the face of it, is an invitation to have Christ within us.

Of course, this huge theological leap in God's inherent relationship with humanity,beginning Some 2,000 years ago raises startling implications for our faith, not to mention questions;

1.  First and foremost, is Christ in all people?  Surely not.  However, which people is Christ in and
Christ not in is not simply a question of our own choice to invite Christ into our lives, but Christ's choice to live in us.  Our job as Christ followers is to share our experience of Christ in Us with all the world.

2.  Because we have the potential of having Christ in us, does that somehow mean that we are God? Absolutely not.  That would be heresy.  However, it is God's work of perfection in us to make us as much like Christ as possible.

As I have reflected on the reality of Christ in me, I am not sure it is entirely comforting.  How is it that God loves me so much as to not simply be with me, but to be in me?  I am not worthy of it, nor do I reflect Christ

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