Thursday, July 11, 2013

"The Reality of Now"

    I visited a coffee shop last night with our daughters Marie and Emmie.  We had a wonderful time (as anyone would with these amazing young ladies - ok, ok, I'm know that as their dad, I'm biased!  But it's still true!).  On the way home, Marie mentioned that she recently watched a documentary on Islam.  The presentation was not negative toward the religion, but Marie said that she came away from the viewing with the strong sense that Islam offers little more than a ritualistic exercise of duties and sacrifices, as opposed to the personal relationship believers have with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

     Emmie chimed in that she had a discussion at work a few days ago with a woman who defended her church's practice of ritual and sacrifice.  "Where's the reality in it?" Emmie asked, and then added, "And doesn't the Bible tell us that Christ made for us "one sacrifice for sins forever?" (Hebrews 10:12). 

    First, let me say it:  all these years, my girls have been listening! :)  Seriously, they've come to these conclusions through their own walk with the Lord.  Nevertheless, it thrills me that they realize the Christian gospel offers to all the possibility and actuality of the living God as known in living reality.  Ritualistic ceremony and sacrifice passed away when the Lord Jesus shed His blood as the fulfillment of the Old Testament foreshadowings that heralded our Savior's person and work.  God would be known where and as we are, in this and every moment, as opposed to our waiting until we find ourselves in a certain place, performing a rite that may actually distract us from the blessed reality of the Christ known in the now.  "
But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?  Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain" (Galatians 4:9-11).

    I mentioned to Marie and Emmie that several years ago, a gentleman who heads up a large international ministry in our area approached me after hearing me speak on the subject of reality in Christ.  "Glen, you are so right about this, and it especially applies to our work with Muslims.  I tell our people that the sharing of their testimony with followers of Islam should not focus on that time when we first came to know the Lord Jesus, but rather on what He is to us today, and in this moment.  They have nothing of the sort in their religion, and we've found that many will listen when we tell them that the true and living God desires to be personal and present in our actual experience." 

     The gentleman was doubtless on target concerning Muslims, but this truth actually provides the basis of ministry to every person with whom we seek to communicate the Lord Jesus.  The Christ we share is present in our relating to others.  We serve, as did John the Baptist, as "the voice of One crying in the wilderness" (John 1:23).  Moreover, the God of Scripture privileges us to tell the citizens of that wilderness that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit desire to "come... and make Our abode" with all who will trust in the Lord Jesus (John 14:23).  Ritual?  Why would we ever settle for such minimalism when God rather offers to us the transcendent glory of His ever present spiritual substance?  Thank you, Marie and Emmie, for a blessed reminder from hearts so dear to me.  And thank You, Heavenly Father, for the dear heart of Christ Jesus, as known and apprehended in the reality of now.

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect."
(Hebrews 10:1)
The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth."
(Psalm 145:18)

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