Friday, September 9, 2016

Before the Throne of God Above

"Because the sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me."

This is a beautiful verse of a beautiful hymn.

I was listening to a modern version of this song originally written by Charitie Lees Bancroft.

As Christians, we are drawn to the wonderful forgiveness that Jesus bought for us by his own blood.

The thought that came to me as I was listening to these words is that I think we sometimes misjudge the Father. We love Jesus; He is our Lord and Saviour, who substituted himself for us so that we could be washed and sanctified and justified, and have a place in God's family.

We know that Jesus is the Son. We know that God the Father sent Jesus his Son, and we know the Spirit is the third person of the one God we worship. But today I am not addressing the deep truth of the Trinity.

What I want to focus on is the sometimes wrong assumption we have of God the Father and God the Son.

Just as Catholics sometimes look to Mary as the "gentle", "feminine", "approachable" person in heaven, who may have some sway over Jesus, and a deeper connection with humanity, (a view I don't agree with), other Christians sometimes see Jesus as the "gentle", "approachable", "merciful" member of the Trinity, as opposed to the "harsh", "uncompromising", "unapproachable" Father, God-head member of the Trinity.

But I think this is a BIG fallacy.

What if the Father is in fact the most merciful/ forgiving/gracious of all.

If there were (there isn't) a struggle of will between the Father and the Son, one being more on the side of the sinner, the other being more on the side of Justice, I would say that the Father is the one MORE on the side of the SINNER.
I will state it again.
If there is a pole of grace within the Trinity (there isn't), then, the one who most pleads our case is actually the FATHER!

What of that amazing prayer of Jesus "forgive them for they don't know what they are doing", if Jesus struggled with that deeply moving prayer (he didn't), his struggle may have been more to align himself with God's forgiving heart than with protecting his guilty murderers from a righteous judge.

These are hair splitting points I am making, and I'm not using scripture at the moment to support my thoughts, but I do know this: Jesus is not the gentle Son of a severe Father. He is of one mind and heart and will with His Father and with the Holy Spirit, who, in perfect Unity, planned and fulfilled the rescue of sinful man.

Grace is the wonderful work of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We need not fear the Father, or, we need no less to fear the Son and Holy Spirit.

God "the Just"was not tricked into forgiving us by some clever move by Jesus.

God 'the merciful" SENT Jesus for this very purpose, and Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, was deeply glad for the opportunity to do his Father's will.

I hope these thoughts stimulate your mind and heart to greater love for our wonderful God.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

?Saint Teresa?

I don't think Mother Teresa would want to be canonized.

Apart from other things, canonizing means the Catholic Church is certain she is in heaven. Which implies (like it or not) that to be fairly confident of your place in heaven you have to be in the mold of someone like Mother Teresa.
If you are "ordinary" then who knows?

This is how the media and the world in general would see it, as well as many ordinary Christians of many denominations.

The New Testament definition of a saint is simply, a believer. There is no separating amazing saints from ordinary ones. In fact Jesus identifies himself particularly with the "least" of his followers.

(St.) Paul described himself as the worst of sinners. And all believers know that they are sinners, especially leaders.

The word "saint" comes from the word sanctify which is from the word "holy".
"Holy" is a word that describes the otherness of God. He is "other" because of his moral impeccability, purity, and absolute perfection in all things, particularly with regard to his plan for creation and how he relates to all things. If there are degrees of holiness then God is actually most Holy.

Ordinary people are made holy. God does this. We don't deserve it, we don't earn it, and we never "achieve" it by living our lives a certain way, yet God "sanctifies" us making us (believers) his very own family. This is amazing and true and worth celebrating.

He does this in only one way. By sending his one and only begotten Son, Jesus, who took us into himself on the cross. By his death (the sacrifice of a perfect, sinless and innocent man, the only one who was worthy of the title "lamb of God") and rising from the dead, he purified us, washed us, remade us, sanctified us, filled us with his "Holy" Spirit and certainly that makes us fit for heaven, miracle or no miracle, life devoted to the poor, or to the rich or to any in between.

So now, as believers, our identity is in Jesus and we follow his teaching to love one another, and serve one another, and to forgive one another. That's what saints do.
What saints don't want or need, is to be elevated to a glory that we know only Jesus deserves.
Saints want to honour Jesus.
The church, which is the great multitude of gathered saints, also wants to honour Jesus.
Canonizing a particular person just does not make sense and is not helpful.
I don't think Mother Teresa would want to be canonized.