I feel I need to go ahead and place some structure to what I intend to share, starting this coming Sunday. Some points here have been stated too much to the point of being annoyingly redundant but please bear with me. It is part of the process. Sort of like how you finally decide to put all the LEGO together into the Burj Khalifa instead of a couple houses here and there.
Also, I apologize, because I’m pretty sure this shouldn’t factor into my 1000 words a day, and as a separate project… I will do better tomorrow. -JBL
Working Title: Love & Life, v1; To be reinforced and edited.
Last Sunday we took a look at Psalm 22, and, while this is a Psalm, the words of the writer were prophetic in that some of the words the psalmist wrote were fulfilled, centuries later, at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ – pointing out things happening to Him (‘they cast lots for my garments’), as well as things He said (‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?’).
I proposed for us to have a look at the entire Psalm, the entire chapter, in an attempt for us to dig deeper into the mind of the psalmist, and in the process, we would also see a pattern in what was going on in the mind of Christ during these times… and boy, what a journey it was.
Because, see, as we went through the verses, we picked up on the strong emotions of loneliness, ridicule and rejection. The psalmist – and consequently, Christ – experienced condemnation, from those looking at them, and in the form of words from within (‘I am a worm’). We read how not only their souls and their hope, but their bodies were broken – Their ribs were exposed, their bones were snapped out of joint, they were parched to the point of their tongues sticking to the roof of their mouth.
Utterly hopeless, in all aspects. Yet, behold, this was only the first half of the Psalm! For the rest of the chapter the psalmist, in spite of all this he was experiencing, he was pushing himself, and those within the sound of his voice (or those who would read his psalm, I suppose), to praise God! If we keep going down the verses of Psalm 22, we receive hints of why he, and we, ought to keep praising God, in spite of all the loneliness, the ridicule, the condemnation, the brokenness, and the hopelessness – (1) because He has saved us (look up Psalm 22:19-24), (2) He has satisfied us (Psalm 22:25-29), and (3) not only has He done this for us, but for our posterity – we read in Psalm 22:30-31 that He saves and satisfies our families, as well!
The point I had in sharing all this is that we, as believers, are not advocating the abject denial of our circumstances – no, we understand the raw pain and/or pleasure that there is to experience in all that we go through in this volatile thing called life and reality. We are able to face what our senses would have us believe is reality, and we have confidence in doing so, because by Christ, we have been saved, and we have been satisfied, and not only are we blessed, but so our family would be blessed as well!
At this time I proclaimed that 2022 would be a year when we would respect the presence of our circumstances, but we would also be overwhelmed by the endless, everlasting love of God.
Now that I think about it, I ought to simplify this to say that this year, 2022, will be a year of overwhelming. Simplifying further, 2022 will be overwhelming.
It’s nice to see that Joseph Prince had his own vision for the year for his church, and, I suppose, anyone else listening – To him 2022 will be a year of Rest and Acceleration. While the rest of the world is trying to accelerate in their own strength, he points out that when we rest, we would actually get more done.
It sounds contradictory, but I feel as if this would be where the rubber hits the road for us. Before we are overtaken by the world and all that is going on in and around us, let us appreciate the Truth of the matter – that it is Christ that overwhelms us first…
I may dedicate an entire service to my take on his message and how it ties in with our own, and how it all comes together with our revelation in the common viewpoint of Christ.
I’ve been agonizing for the past days on what we will be sharing in the services to come here in the Good News Aces, and it’s come to this: We will be talking about Practical Love, Tactical Grace, and Strategic Peace.
For the first quarter of 2022, we will focus on Practical Love. We will speak on how God’s love for us is so overwhelming, that it practically overflows in and through us as individuals. For the second quarter of 2022, we fill focus on Tactical Grace; coming out of Holy Week and into Pentecost, we will be speaking on how the Grace of God was present in the establishment of the body of Christ, or the church. Finally, for the third quarter of 2022, we will place our focus on Strategic Peace; a couple of months in, considering how our country has, at this point, struggled with more than 2 years of COVID, and we as a people have chosen our leaders, it is certainly peace that we need for us to establish our strategies, for ourselves, our families, and now, also for the rest of the world.
While I was typing all that I couldn’t help but think that all this was so ambitious, but I suppose it’s necessary, considering the overall theme. See, even before the virus, we’ve all already been pushed into unprecedented levels of fear and anxiety.
It was all pretty subtle at first. Way back when I was in high school I remember there were issues that polarized us – petty as they may have been, they polarized just the same. Hip hoppers and Rockers. Jocks and Nerds, Konyos and jologs…
This theme of polarization continued as I started my job, with pro-management people looking at delinquent employees as subhuman, while anti-management people would call those who climb up the ladder brown-nosers (one out of countless angles, because I haven’t even factored in personnel movement, scandals, and so on. What a fun life corporate was).
All this was what I observed in my own personal life, and I’m pretty sure we’ve seen our own fair share of polarization; It isn’t enough for some people to insist on their being right, but they lash out at who they think is wrong, too. We’ve seen it with countless rallies – from High School, to College, to every single year after that, we’ve been forced to make choices, and to take sides – Are you for the principal or against his decisions? Are you for a tuition fee increase or not? Are you for the government or against it?
Sadly, this polarizing mindset has infiltrated us in church as well! There is the open tendency for all of us who have tasted and understood the gospel of Grace to look down on our brothers and sisters who still insist on the Law, calling them blind and even praying for Christ to heal them of their blindness, never recalling that we were once like them. They may add to the polarization, lashing out at us for being ‘hyper-Grace’ people who tell the world that it’s okay to sin, but we in the body of Christ have no business going back to our old ways of us-versus-them.
Now, I could understand how my experiences and my observations can be ruled out as biased, and so on. But I think it has its roots in our decision as creations, way back in the garden of Eden. See, in my opinion (and, as ALWAYS, you are free to question my opinion, you are free to contest and disagree with anything and everything I have to say), when we chose to eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, (1) we chose this fruit as a priority over the fruit of the Tree of Life, and (2) we indirectly declared that we could handle the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Unfortunately, as created beings who are bound by time and space, we only realized too late that we could not handle this great knowledge, and true to what God warned Adam and Eve, we would surely die. My point is that the knowledge of Good and Evil, of true Right and true Wrong, is beyond our capacity as humans, as creations, and death was the only sure result of us taking it in.
Since then life for us has been one huge war… until Christ, in His love, took the death that we deserved, and set things straight, so we no longer were nailed to Knowledge of Good and Evil, but are now grafted into the Tree of Life – Christ is the Vine, and we who believe are the branches, bearing His fruit.
Sure as we continue to sing, we’ve been born again into the family of God, and His blood flows through our veins. Christ has paid the ultimate price for us, who were once in sin and death, to be made righteous and reconciled to God. He is that close to us that He is with us, and we are with Him, 100% of the time, all the time, from now until the end of time, and beyond.
Once we were condemned, and all we did was condemnation. All we did was accusation, if not against one another, we would accuse ourselves, or we would act so as to avoid accusation.
This year, I would have us see how we have died to this old mindset, and through Christ, we have been born again into righteousness and life – a life born out of love, a love so overwhelming.
This life we have is now a life of celebration of the endless love that God has for each and every one of us, and it is separate from our old ways of polarization – what does this even mean? It means that we have been given life and a perspective of compassion towards the rest of the world ravaged by those who seek to exalt themselves and those who seek to kill anyone and everyone who disagrees with them.
The life that we have is a new and glorious way – for once all we did was laced with death, and even the greatest of our efforts were filthy rags, but now, because of Christ and His finished work, we have life, where all we do is enriched with life, and even when we stumble we bounce right back up, for our God is faithful to make all things work for our good, and NOTHING can ever separate us from Him!
And is any of this of our own doing? Friends, it’s all because of Christ’s doing, Christ’s finished work, that we have the confidence to say such things!
The life that we have is out of the great love God had for each and every one of us…
And it’s my prayer, that not only would this overwhelm me again and again, but that you would be overwhelmed as well.
We have life because of love, and we love, because we have life.
God bless you.