Saturday, February 9, 2013

Talk of the Town

The following is my translation/interpretation/paraphrase 
of Matthew 16:13-20. 

“Who do people say Humanity’s Child is? ”

His disciples discussed it:

“Well, some say that you’re the embodiment of the spirit of our hero John the Baptist, and though he was killed, he continues to speak bold truths through you.    

“Others say that you’re a reincarnation of Elijah, the legendary prophet who defeated Jezebel and all the prophets of Baal to lead Israel back to God. 

“And then others say you’re Jeremiah, the young fiery prophet. 

“Or maybe you’re one of the other ancient prophets.  Someone unknown and mysterious.

Jesus said, “But what about you? Who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter spoke for them all. 

“We know who you are. You’re not merely one who speaks on behalf of God. You speak with the full authority of God. You are not God’s spokesman. You are God’s Child, chosen to be our next King, our real King.

“That’s who you are.

“Bless you, Simon, son of Jonah. You didn’t hear this from the people of this earth. You heard it from the heavens, whispered to your heart by no one less than God. 

“You rock, Simon. You’re part of a huge structure built on a foundation of truth. You will hold the keys of heaven in your heart. In fact, heaven and earth are now the same for you.  You exist in both realms. Everything you see and do and think and feel is a reality in both places. 

“Let’s go. And we’ll keep this conversation to ourselves for the time being.” 

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Spoonful of God

I used to see a bumper sticker that said, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.”

I would quote that bumper sticker and people would nod with satisfaction as if I had just handed them the secret of the universe in a small box, and now they could go on to put dinner on the table. 

And then I would challenge them: “This is an interesting statement. But what exactly do we think God has said?” And I would use any answer they offered to initiate a protracted discussion, which bugged them, because they were ready to move on

I probably took too much pleasure in bothering them, but I think my point is valid:

You can’t limit God to a bumper sticker. To use another quote of a similar style:

Anything you can put in a nutshell belongs there. 

On the other hand, Jesus and John had a way of saying very big things in short sentences:

God is love.
God is light.
I am the Bread of life
I am the Light of the world.
I am the way, the truth, and the life.
I am the Good Shepherd.
I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly.
I am the Resurrection.
I am.

Quick sayings.  But they were meant to generate conversation, not stop it cold.  I have spent a life time pondering these statements. People will ask me for definition and look disappointed when I can’t give them a quick answer to explain an absolute truth.

Time is a major factor. We don’t have enough of it, and it seems to me that the most important things often cheated by busyness and fatigue created by the busyness.  For instance, I spend a lot of energy honing a worship service to keep it to a mere sixty minutes. And most people don’t have time for protracted group study of the Bible.

But I think most of us hunger for truth, meaning, and purpose.  Maybe we’re even starved, which could explain why we want it all in one spoonful.

A spoonful of God. That just isn’t going to be enough, is it?  

Friday, February 1, 2013

Psalm 36

Here is part of a psalm that I've been enjoying lately, so I thought I'd share it:  

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.

You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!

People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.

                                                  --Psalm 36:5-10