March 20, 2013

United and kept by the power of God

Upgrading software often interrupts my quiet time with God because my devotional book is on my computer. While waiting for the upgrades to finish, I turned to a research paper that I’m supposed to read and write about for this week’s class. It is difficult reading. The author shows how Jesus could be fully God and fully man, without one compromising the other. He uses language and ideas that are foreign to me and my head began to ache as I tried to figure out the gist of his words.

This course (eight weeks) is crammed with assigned articles much like this one. They are thoughtfully selected so students might better understand biblical truths, particularly about Jesus. For me, some sections have moved me to tears with their expression of the beauty of Jesus Christ and the amazing things He has done.

Today’s devotional reading is much simpler but no less amazing. Consider this: Jesus Christ prays to His Father to keep His followers secure in Him and united to other Christians -- that we might demonstrate to the world the oneness that is between of the Son and the Father.

And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. (John 17:11)

Kept secure is a big issue in itself. Because of my union with Christ, I have eternal security. However, because God is sovereign and has good plans for me, I am secure in the events of this life too. That does not mean perpetual smooth sailing, but it does mean I am never out of God’s purposes for me, nor outside of this promise:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28–29)

Unity with other Christians is another big issue. I’ve met believers from all over the world and from all walks of life and that unity comes to the forefront almost immediately. (It can be blocked only by sinful attitudes in me or in them). I think of the Korean airline stewardess who made sure we found our hotel, and the chain store manager I sat beside on a flight from Chicago, and the smiling girl who worked in a small restaurant in China, and the many we have enjoyed fellowship with in churches across North America. The Spirit of Christ who lives in us also links us heart to heart. It is a beautiful thing.

My course is about the unity of one God in three persons. The concept is most difficult for our human minds. The course endeavors to clarify this reality, using both the Old Testament and the New to show that if all passages are taken into consideration, there is no other way to think about God.

This takes me back forty plus years to my conversion. I was reading in my living room and came across a verse from the Bible. In a moment of time, the Spirit of God opened my heart so that I understood immediately that Jesus Christ is God in human flesh. I had not taken a seminary course or sat under anyone’s teaching. This understanding was from God to me, without study and without a headache! At the time, I would have been hard-pressed to explain how I knew that was true, but I did know and that knowledge still fills me with joy.

Now, as I read the explanations and the attempts at explanation of that same reality, rejoicing pushes hard against that headache. What God has done in Jesus Christ is a beautiful thing. He has changed my life because of His life and promises to pray for me forever, asking God to keep me in Him, and to keep me united with other Christians and with Himself. Again, this is a beautiful thing!

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