Friday, October 30, 2015

Miracle Workers Needed

‘Miracle workers needed. Apply within.’ A sign with these words should be hung out in front of every house of worship in the world. I almost wrote ‘in front of every church,’ but then my quirky passion for universalism kicked in just in the nick of time. Not that I believe that all mankind will be saved, but that I believe that all mankind was saved by Christ, and is saved in principle, but can only be saved if that’s what they want. My proof text for this bizarre belief is, ‘The point of all our toiling and battling is that we have put our trust in the living God, and He is the Savior of the whole human race, but particularly of all believers’ (1 Timothy 4:10). Interesting that the apostle Paul calls the living God, and not Jesus Christ by name, ‘the Savior of the whole human race,’ adding ‘but particularly of all believers.’

Of course! Jesus Christ is the living God, no one can deny that, and ‘the living God’ is distinguished, in my mind anyway, from an epithetless ‘God’ in no better place than in Christ’s words to His beloved disciple John the Revelator, ‘I am the Living One, I was dead and now I am to live for ever and ever’ (Revelation 1:18). The part about all this that was unforeseen and can seem creepy to human beings is the fact that ‘God’ is distinctly personal, so personal in fact that He can say of Himself that He was ‘dead,’ something that we all can relate to. If there is a ‘God,’ we aren’t expecting Him to undergo the change from life to death, and then back again. If we think of such things at all, it is only in myths and fairy tales. The audacity of ‘the living God’ is that He dared to die, and recovered, what we must do too, but cannot.

At least, not without Him, which is what the inescapable message of Christ is, much to the dismay and even ridicule of people who think that if there is a God, He wouldn’t stoop so low. Everyday miracles are bad enough, stupid, superstitious, demeaning to the rational mind. But then this, ‘the dying and rising God’ whose notoriety is that He was dead and is alive forever, not just in myth, but somehow in reality, crashing through all the laws of physics, space and time as if they were a crystal pavilion shattered by an earthbound chunk of celestial stuff. Actually, this is what happened, no mere metaphor. Christianity holds the only keys there are to unlock ‘the secrets of the universe’ for the human race. They were given to us by ‘the living God’ who explicitly forgave us all, as though thanking us for putting Him to death.

He knew that the only way for us to taste His immortality, and not just taste it but inherit it, was for Him to taste our mortality, and not just to taste it, as if his death was in appearance only—no, He really did die, and after suffering excruciating tortures—but to embrace it and, in so doing, to turn it against itself, to undo it, ‘trampling down death by death.’ The last part of the hymn I am quoting, ‘and to those in the tombs, bestowing life,’ is where the ‘Miracle workers needed. Apply within’ enters the picture. ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you’ (Matthew 17:20)‘The living God’ to whom nothing is impossible, well, look at the position He’s put us in, ‘Nothing will be impossible for you.’

‘Miracle workers needed. Apply within.’ Yes, this is the sign that should be out on every church billboard, marquee, webpage, and newspaper advertisement, and maybe nothing else. The question is, are ‘miracle workers wanted’? The Church is in need of nothing else right now but of people who work with faith and love in the fear (awe) of God, who ‘demolish sophistries and the arrogance that tries to resist the knowledge of God’ (2 Corinthians 10:4). And what is this ‘knowledge of God’? Is it factual knowledge, what or who He is? No, my brothers, it is personal knowledge, it is acquaintance, it is the desire to know Him as ‘the living God’ who ‘is the Savior of the whole human race’ and especially our Savior. And that desire is fulfilled in following His commandments, to do what we see Him doing in the holy gospels.

From now onward we do not judge anyone by the standards of the flesh. Even if we did once know Christ in the flesh, that is not how we know him now. For anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation. The old creation has gone, and now the new one is here. It is all God’s work. It was God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation. God in Christ was reconciling the world to Himself, not holding men’s faults against them, and He has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled. We are ambassadors for Christ. It is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s Name is: Be reconciled to God. For our sake God made the sinless One into sin, so that in Him we might become the goodness of God. As His fellow workers, we beg you not to neglect the grace of God that you have received.
2 Corinthians 5:16-6:1

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