the Jesus imperative

thumb_IMG_0270For today’s post I’m simply going to share a series of thoughts from “Day Eight” of Reaching Toward Easter. This chapter hit me right between the eyes – in a good way – this morning. And – acquire your own copy of the book or not – I’d like to share it with you.

It’s that important.

Enjoy – DEREK

“How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.” – John 14:9-11

I love the language the great Teacher uses here, always schooling his listeners about the nature of God. Jesus is the interface of time and eternity, the known and the unknown, spirit and matter, the natural and the supernatural.

This is Incarnation, another moment when God, in Jesus, breaks quite literally into time and space. We have no adequate language for God—no way to conceptualize eternity, perfection, completeness, omniscience, or holiness. The Jews were on to something when they did not speak God’s name as a sign of reverence. But Jesus called the Father “Abba,” Daddy. And then he said that we too could know God in the same way.

We see in today’s reading in John 14 that God’s intentions were focused into this flesh and blood world through the lens of Jesus. We see also that the Creator intends that kind of work to continue through all of us privileged to call ourselves Jesus’ followers.

BELIEF: Our foundational beliefs, Jesus suggests, are a critical factor in determining how we think, speak, and ultimately act. In other words, what we believe profoundly affects the manner in which we live. I think that Jesus understood this better than anyone else in history.

Jesus invites us to participate in the God-life in much the same way that he does. I honestly don’t think that Jesus came into this world preloaded with infinite knowledge and superhero abilities—kind of a GOD-version7.7. Instead, it’s my opinion that Jesus had the opportunity and the responsibility to live and learn and grow and develop with the same reality-based constraints we all have to contend with. The difference is that Jesus, God made flesh, not only “increased in wisdom and stature” (Luke 2:52, NIV) but also surpassed all human expectations.

Jesus brought to the table the clarity of his belief. Jesus knew that he was in the Father and the Father was in him, and he understood how dramatically and conclusively belief affects everything else. That’s why he was constantly raising the question, and he parsed it again in the scripture we’re looking at today. Jesus challenged his friends to believe that God literally inhabited him, and that God “does his works” (v. 10) in and through the life he was living among his friends.

SALVATION: One of the most helpful definitions of salvation that I’ve come across can be expressed as “participating in the work of God.” Jesus challenged the disciples to believe, so that they too could participate in the good work that God is up to in the world.

So in the last few days before he was killed by the people his radical ideas threaten, Jesus lays out what is important. He tries to make his friends under- stand that they will not “see the Father” in the traditional ways that they are used to imagining God, or via the ways they think they need to experience God. God, Jesus points out, is best understood and experienced in terms of allowing God’s work to take up residence in us, and then to believe, and, consequently, to live.

THE JESUS IMPERATIVE: “Live!” That’s the Jesus imperative. And it’s a good word to conclude the first full week of Lent.

“Take the trouble to know me,” Jesus continues the thought from the question Thomas had posed earlier. “Take the trouble to know me and you will also know the Father. If you know God’s will, and then pray accordingly, greater things still are going to happen because you dare the commitment” (John 14:10-11, author paraphrase).

Prayer: Use me, Lord, use even me. Take me; melt me; break me; mold me; fill me. Amen

– DEREK

 

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