Monthly Archives: February 2022

Being God’s Instruments of Peace

“Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen” (a prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, from The Book of Common Prayer).

Statue of St. Francis of Assisi. Photo courtesy of Pxfuel.com.

As Lent approaches, millions of Christians, especially in traditional churches, are pondering what they can give up during Lent. Many give up a favorite food or hobby for 40 days. Such fasts are voluntary. Christians do this to remember our Lord’s fast in the wilderness (see Matthew 4:1-11) and His sufferings for us, as well as to reflect on our sins and remember why we need a Savior.

Meanwhile, many Ukrainian citizens face the risk of non-voluntary suffering. The Russian army has invaded their country. Civilians have taken up arms to defend their homeland. Thousands have fled the country. Millions will face a lack of food and other resources, destruction of their homes, communities, and infrastructure, and even death. Suffering is not a choice for them; they cannot just take it easy if things get uncomfortable.

Those who will receive ashes on Ash Wednesday will hear the pastor say, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Lent reminds us of our mortality. Millions are facing it every day: not only in Ukraine but also in Congo (where some of my denomination’s churches have been attacked in recent weeks) and in countless nations where the government leaders are more concerned about their power than about the needs and rights of their citizens.

Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

As we fast, we will remember our sins. We will recall that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible). We will remember that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). People in Ukraine are experiencing the full weight of sin now. They are suffering one of the most flagrant expressions of human sinfulness as one nation’s leaders seek to inflict death and despair upon the people of another country.

Many churches will encourage the faithful to take on a positive spiritual discipline to complement the Lenten fast. In addition to giving up cookies or coffee for 40 days, one might pray more or read more chapters in the Bible every day.

Image by Prierlechapelet from Pixabay

Perhaps we can go beyond that. Millions are crying out for peace in 2022. We want the war in Ukraine to end. We pray for peace throughout the world. We cry out for justice. We want to see a better world around us. Many Christians are praying for a spiritual revival in our churches and communities as more people turn to Jesus for salvation, healing, and hope.

We can take St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer above as our guide. “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.” We need to pray for peace: Few of us can make any direct impact on the situation in Kyiv at this time, but we worship a God who rules all of creation. We can bring the peace of God to our homes, families, workplaces, neighborhoods, and communities. We can take a stand against hatred only by bringing God’s love (1 Corinthians 13) to those we meet. We can share God’s mercy and pardon with those we meet.

Over the next 40 days—and beyond—let us be the answer to our prayers. God is sending us, His children, to bring His love, forgiveness, peace, and hope to this world. That will draw us closer to Him and bring more of His blessings into our lives than any fast we may choose to make.

How can you bring God’s mercy and peace to those around you? Do you have a plan to share God’s peace in the weeks to come? Share your thoughts or suggestions by clicking the “Leave a comment” link below.

Copyright © 2022 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Church Calendar: Holy Days and Seasons, Current events | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Word Became Flesh. V: Grace, Truth, and Glory in Plain Sight

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.”’ For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:14-18; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).

Image via Pixabay.

This post concludes a five-part series looking at the introduction of the Gospel according to John. These 18 verses set the stage for the rest of John’s Gospel. This introduction reaches a climax here. None of John’s original readers could misunderstand what he was saying: Jesus is a man, but He is also God.

This central truth of the Gospel—the incarnation—is essential for our salvation. Because of sin, we are separated spiritually from God. We cannot do anything to solve that problem. However, by becoming a man, God the Son bridged the gap between us. He entered our world and shared our experiences so that we could share His eternal life.

He did this while maintaining most of His divine attributes, particularly His moral attributes. John ascribes three key divine qualities to Jesus: grace, truth, and glory. Jesus revealed His glory particularly several times during His life: during the Transfiguration and at His resurrection, for example. He also showed His glory by living a sinless life despite facing the temptations common to mankind. [Jesus laid aside some of His divine attributes (see Philippians 2:7), such as omniscience and omnipresence. The fact that He spent approximately 33 years confined to a small locale in the Middle East does not negate His deity.]

John writes that “The Word became flesh.” To a Jewish reader, the word would suggest the Word of God, the laws and prophecies contained in their Scriptures, which we call the Old Testament. It was the complete revelation of God to His chosen people. A Greek reader would immediately recognize the logos, the Greek term for “word,” from the teachings of Plato and other philosophers. They believed that the logos is the force that governs the universe. It is logical (the English words “logical” and “logic” are derived from logos), rational, constant, and spiritual—distinct from and above the physical, material realm. To a Jew, the notion that God or His Word could become a physical entity—particularly a human being—was absurd. Likewise, Greeks would find the idea that the spiritual logos could assume any physical form to be preposterous.

Nevertheless, by becoming a man, Jesus demolished those boundaries. The logos became physical and took on a human body and biological life. The force that governs the universe became a distinct individual. He dwelled in a small town in an insignificant province, on a medium-sized planet circling an average-sized star in the outer branches of a galaxy floating somewhere through space.

He accepted a very ordinary life, facing many challenges. He was born to a poor family in a stable, not royalty in a castle. He probably spent much of His young adulthood working an ordinary craftsman’s job as a carpenter, deprived of the luxuries most Americans take for granted. Scripture tells us that He was born of a virgin; Christians accept this as a fact, but it must have been hard to swallow in His day. People probably assumed that Mary and Joseph had sex before marriage (or that Mary had cheated on her fiance). Neighbors probably whispered and gossipped about them. This accusation arose even during His ministry, when His opponents said, “We were not born of fornication” (John 8:41). In the end, He endured a brutal, humiliating form of execution. He accepted a low status in life so that He could raise us to fellowship with God. Through it all, Jesus embodied the divine nature and all we need to know about God.

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they” (Hebrews 1:1-4).

Perhaps it seems far-fetched to us. It seemed that way to Jesus’ followers and to John as well. God supersedes our wisdom. Jesus could only reveal Him to us by becoming one of us. Laws, prophecies, wisdom writings, philosophy, etc., could only give us a glimpse of His glory.

God became man to bridge the gap that separated us from Him. He entered our world and shared our experiences so that we could share His life. By sharing our humanity, He could share His grace, truth, glory, life, and light with us.

“Jesus is not only what God is like; He is also what humanity was intended to be” [The Disciple’s Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Cornerstone Bible Publishers, 1988)].

I would like to hear from you, especially if you have just recently welcomed Jesus into your heart. Share your thoughts or suggestions by clicking the “Leave a comment” link below.

Copyright © 2022 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, deity of Christ | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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