Monday, May 28, 2007

absolute scandal

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” The Apostle Paul penned these words in his letter to the Romans. Lets take a closer look at this gospel of utter foolishness that Paul is not ashamed of.

Our story begins with God, that is also where it ends but lets not get ahead of ourselves. Now out of an abundance of Himself, God created everything, then He created a man named Adam. For all intensive purposes Adam was perfect, but still it was not good for him to be alone. Now we are never told why it was not good for Adam to be alone, perhaps it had something to do with the fact that guys never clean anything and Eden would have eventually looked like a dorm room because Adam never took out the trash or washed the dishes. Whatever the reason God creates a beautiful, sinless, naked, perfect woman, Eve. Eve was that woman every guy is looking for, and Adam meets her and suddenly life has taken a major turn for the better. God Himself presides over and consecrates their wedding. If only the Bible had ended right there, after two simple chapters, in Eden with man and woman, naked, eating fruit, trying to fill all the earth with their happy, horny, and holy selves, but alas the story continues.

Ever since that big oops in Eden we have been walking around scratching our thick skulls, trying to figure out how to get back to that glorious and wonderful time. Basically our first parents sinned against God and brought this horrible curse against all of creation, including themselves. The reason for the sin is a rather funny story in retrospect, they believed a talking serpent, who used to be an angle that got royally kicked out of heaven because of His pride, over God.

Now after getting kicked out of Eden, our first parents have two boys, but that doesn’t last, I mean one kills the other, which just creates a downward spiral of death and carnage. The people of the world grow so vial and wicked that God brings a flood to destroy all but a handful of them. He saves the family of this Noah guy who is decent, but he ends up getting drunk and passing out naked in his barn like some hick at a family reunion.

Time keeps moving on and God chooses a cowardly man named Abraham who is all to happy to pimp out his beautiful and loving wife to avoid a conflict. God chooses to work through a cheating, trickster, and conman named Jacob. Later God rises up a stuttering murderer to lead his people out of Egypt. A king named David is chosen by God to lead His people after many years, but he becomes an adulterer, a murder, and an all around odd guy to point to the promised Christ. Now David’s son, Solomon, he is the definition of addiction. This guy had more wine, women, and money than any guy could possibly know what to do with. This short list doesn’t even include prophets like Ezekiel, who God had cook his meals over his own feces, Hosea, who marries a prostitute, or Jeremiah, who cries more than a newly crowned American idol winner, all the time.

Now to top it all off God comes to earth and has a mom that everyone thinks is a skank and a dad who has the brilliants of a wet cloth for believing that entire “virginal birth” story. His brothers likely pummeled him, because hey, you can’t be fully human without experiencing at least one beat down at the hands of your siblings. The God-Man goes through puberty, which probably included that crazy voice-changing thing where in the course of one syllable the boy can go from sounding like James Earl Jones to Fran Drescher. God comes hiding in human flesh, according to Isaiah, He’s your average Joe, and basically no one knows who this guy is.

This sounds like the plot of some crappy daytime talk show, right? The God-Man who is born to a teenage virgin in an animal stall, grows up with a blue collar dad in a backwards rural town, and has that crazy cousin named John who lives in the wilderness and survives on a steady diet of locust, honey, and repentance.

Now somehow this John fellow gets a posse of followers, that probably would have a high rating on ugly, and is the leader of a religious movement. Jesus takes a few members of John’s group to form his own little fellowship. Until this point the God-Man has been the classic underachiever, no wife, kids, career, or even a home really.

Yet apparently God is a cool cat to hang with since He and His crew get invited to all sorts of parties, including weddings, which at the time were basically week long celebration, with wine and dancing, in an attempt for some lucky guy and girl to get back to Genesis 1 and 2. This was Jesus’ first of many parties.

The religious leaders of the day see this and constantly accuse Jesus of being a drunken, glutton, and all around crooked guy who hangs out with the wrong people. Easy girls like Mary, gangsters like Matthew, and those kids in high school who wore concert t-shirts with their favorite bands on them and smoked just off campus during lunch. To the religious leaders Jesus is an absolute scandal, his followers are crooks, and it agitates them because every time they see Him He is surrounded by multitudes, all listening intently to hear His next one liner, because they love His sense of humor. (Come on part of His divinity had to include comedic timing.)

Now back to the party, Jesus shows up and begins His public ministry. Rather humorous God comes to earth and kicks things off as a bartender. You see these silly kids, who were just married, didn’t buy enough wine to last the whole week. Now this would be a major humiliation for these poor kids in front of their entire family not to mention their friends. Mary, Jesus’ mother asks Him to do something about it.

Ironically Jesus takes six rather large stone jars, which are used for ceremonial washing, and asks that they be filled with water. Now Jesus didn’t get the sudden urge to take a bath, nope, He turns the water into wine. Oh and this isn’t the cheap wine named after some bird or handgun, no this is that good foreign stuff that most people in America can’t pronounce because it isn’t spelled M-I-L-L-E-R-L-I-G-H-T.

Now after this Jesus preformed many other miracles, just take a look through the gospel of John; he spells out seven of the God-Mans’ miracles. Yet the highlight of his career was neither in his miracles nor his loving nature to felons and losers, but rather his victory over death. This crazy God-man died as a substitute for the sins of the sons and daughters of our first parents, remember Adam and Eve. Now how was this possible? Well he was perfect and as such his sacrifice was perfect, basically he gave sin, death, and the devil a royal beat down. Now as such he was offering himself as your substitute and offered it as a free gift to all that would believe.

The Bible says that this is how the sovereign, timeless God of the universe first makes His Glory known. Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians that this message of Jesus sounds like foolishness to many, and will be a stumbling block to others who attempt to find Him. There are many reasons for this but they include our ignorance of Christ, which spawns a Christian’s freedom in Christ. Paul also said “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love." (Galatians 5:13) The gospel message is one of freedom, but not freedom to sin, no rather it is freedom from sin, as we are all born slaves to sin.

Anthony M. Coniaris put it this way “It is as if God the Father is saying to us: "Since I have told you everything in My Word, Who is My Son, I have no other words that can at present say anything or reveal anything to you beyond this. Fix your eyes on Him alone, for in Him I have told you all, revealed all, and in Him you will find more than you desire or ask. If you fix your eyes on Him, you will find everything, for He is My whole Word and My reply, He is My whole vision and My whole revelation.”

Now you may not believe this and that is fine, no one can force you to believe anything, but as St. Augustine said “If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.” As for me I will live in the glorious freedom that Christ’s shed blood has granted me, and remember “He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent” – St. Augustine

Buddha never claimed to be God. Moses never claimed to be Jehovah. Mohammed never claimed to be Allah. Yet Jesus Christ claimed to be the true and living God. Buddha simply said, "I am a teacher in search of the truth." Jesus said, "I am the Truth." Confucius said, "I never claimed to be holy." Jesus said, "Who convicts me of sin?" Mohammed said, "Unless God throws his cloak of mercy over me, I have no hope." Jesus said, "Unless you believe in me, you will die in your sins." - Anonymous

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. - The Apostle Paul