Riffing on Romans 10

23 November 2018

Christians have always been called to engage in the healing and growth of the world in a holistic, spiritually aware way — not that we’ve always been good at doing it. Today in spiritual-but-not-religious circles, a quasi-secularized version of the same kind of person is often referred to as a lightworker.  

My heart’s desire and prayer to God for the lightworkers is that they would experience overflowing life. For I bear witness that they have zeal for love and peace, but their zeal is not according to knowledge.

For being ignorant of God’s ferocious personal love for them, and seeking to establish connection to divine love by their own wisdom, they have not submitted themselves to the love of God, although they often benefit from it. For Christ is the convergence of all wisdom that produces love, for everyone who simply entrusts themselves to Him.

Solomon writes in a certain way, “By wisdom God founded the world” and “those who hate wisdom love death.” But love through faith speaks in this way: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you,” which is the word we preach: that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you, too, will be filled with life,

Because with the heart one believes, resulting in reconciliation to divine love, and with the mouth you make your confession, resulting in overflowing life.

As the Scriptures also say: “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

Because with God there is no distinction between those who are religious and those who are not. The same God over all hears their requests and is rich to all who call on Him, as the Scriptures say: “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered.”

But how can they call on God for deliverance, if they have not trusted themselves to Him? And how could they trust themselves to Him, if they’ve never heard the truth of who He is? And how will they hear the truth, unless someone tells them? And who will tell them, unless someone is sent to do the job?

As Isaiah says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace.” But having heard that good news, they have not all obeyed, as Isaiah also says: “Who has believed our report?”

So then they trust God because they hear the truth about Him, and they hear the truth when we proclaim the word of God. Can we say that they have not heard? No! “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies declare His handiwork” and “There is no speech or language; their voice is not heard, but their sound has gone out to the end of the earth, their words to the end of the world.” And again, “What may be known of God is revealed in them, because God has shown it to them.”

Paul explains: “although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became empty in their minds and dark in their hearts.” In that they have addressed their prayers and credited their results to the created universe, they have evaded the need to thank the God who made it, so that “professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the creator God into an image made like the creation” and “worshiped and served the created thing rather than the Creator.”

So these lightworkers, seeking healing, yet having fled from the one from whom all healing comes — has God cast them away forever?

No! I am one of them! God has not abandoned His creation, but “we also are His offspring.” Jesus said, “If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to Me.” And with this Paul agrees, saying, “when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” As also Isaiah said so many years ago: “I was found by those who did not seek Me, and was revealed to those who did not ask for Me.”

Remember that when Elijah pitied himself and said, “I alone am left,” God said, “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal,” and on the last day, John shows us the saints before the throne of God, “people from every tribe, tongue, and nation.” Therefore among the lightworkers, God has reserved for Himself a people, for He “is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

And knowing that “the kindness of God leads us to repentance,” He bestows rain on the just and the unjust alike, and also healing grace and love on those who seek Him and on those who do not. His love flows through lightworkers who know His name, and through those who erect altars “to the unknown God,” not recognizing the source of the grace that is given to them.

And yet the altar bears witness that they are grateful, and that they know this power does not come from within them. And so, God has overlooked this ignorance, but now calls all people everywhere to repent.

And from that call, we in the churches are not excluded. We have neglected the healing grace of God. Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted, but we have said that healing of memories is not God’s work. Jesus came to make the blind see and the lame walk, but we have been too timid to ask that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. If these lightworkers have found no place among us, is it because they have rebelled against God? Or is it because we have?

But thanks be to God, He calls all people everywhere to repent—even us.

 

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Reasons to Rejoice

17 July 2011

God speaks, and it is.  When He said, “Let there be light,” there was light — end of story.

David depended on this for his spiritual well-being: “Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity.”  David sinned; no doubt about it.  While he harbored his sin, it ruined him, but when he confessed it he was forgiven and the Lord did not count it against him.  If the Lord said David was righteous, then who could argue?  And so David was free from his burden: “Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”

Let’s think through the implications of that.  If God declares us righteous not because we have earned the declaration, but simply because we trust him, casting ourselves on His mercy, then it follows that we have peace with God.  Think about it — what disrupts our peace with God?  Sin, right?  But what sin could we commit that we cannot confess, and be forgiven?

And if we have peace with God, then we have access to His presence.  What could keep us away?

And if we have access to God’s presence, then this is worth rejoicing about, is it not?  Moreover, if we know that we have access to His presence at any time, then it follows that His glory shines on (and therefore through) us, and even when we die we will have access to His glory.  This gives us hope; we know how the story ends.

But not only that, we also know that the end of the Story will be reflected in the little stories of our life, now.  So when a difficulty arises today, we know that the hard times teach us to persist, and by persisting we become different — better — people.  The sort of people who see hope not just in the far future, but in the present, who benefit from difficulty rather than being defeated by it.

How can we be like this?  Because the Holy Spirit is in us, and He pours out God’s love in our hearts.  We are able to love the people who create difficulties for us, not because we are so wonderful but because the love of God flows through us.

Just how far will God’s love carry us?  We would think twice about giving up a kidney for someone we love.  There’s no way we’d give up a kidney for a stranger, let alone a convicted murderer on death row.  And that’s just a kidney; we could live without a kidney.  God’s love is demonstrated in Jesus giving His life for us, and He did it when we were His enemies.

If God gave us His Son to bring us to Him when we were His enemies, what will He do for us, now that we are His friends?

We still sin, and in this life there are consequences for sin, but considering all He’s done for us, will God not certainly save us from His present wrath against sin?

So here are our reasons to rejoice: We will enter into God’s glory when we die, we can reflect that glory even in our current difficulties, and what’s more, He loves us more deeply than we can imagine.