Archive for January 21st, 2009

And the resurrection of Jesus issues the surprising command: don’t be afraid; because the God who made the world is the God who raised Jesus from the dead, and calls you now to follow him. Believing in the resurrection of Jesus isn’t just a matter of believing that certain things are true about the physical body of Jesus that had been crucified. These truths are vital and nonnegotiable, but they point beyond themselves, to the God who was responsible for them. Believing in this God means believing that it is going to be all right; and this belief is, ultimately, incompatible with fear. As John says in his letter, perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4.18). And the resurrection is the revelation of perfect love, God’s perfect love for us, his human creatures. That’s why, though we may at any stage in our lives grasp the truth that God raised Jesus from the dead, it takes us all our life long to let that belief soak through and permeate the rest of our thinking, feeling, and worrying lives.”

Sometimes this process isn’t just a gradual thing; it may involve sudden crises. There’s a hidden chapter in the life of St Paul, which is usually ignored by those who see him either as the heroic missionary or the profound theologian, or possibly the misguided misogynist. Acts doesn’t mention this hidden chapter, but in our second lesson we heard Paul himself speak of it. At one stage of his work in what he called Asia, and we call Turkey, he says that he went through a horrendous and traumatic experience which seem to destroy him totally. ‘I was so utterly, unbearably crush’, he writes, ‘that I despaired of life itself; indeed, I felt as though I had received the sentence of death’ (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). And a good part of the second letter to Corinth actually grows out of this experience; the brash, proud Corinthian church had wanted Paul to be a success story, and he had to explain to them that being an apostle, and ultimately being a Christian, was not a matter of being a success story, but of living with human failure–and with the God who raises the dead. That’s what following Jesus is likely to involve.” (NT Wright, Following Jesus, 68-69)

Wright continues to speak to my heart. Here is a preacher who understands the Gospel and preaches it fearlessly. I hope you find encouragement from this as I have.

I got to thinking to myself today about God. It’s quite easy to imagine that God is in heaven, brooding and grousing about how lousy we are. It’s easy to think of God who does nothing but think of all the ways he will punish those who have rejected him and his law and his son. It’s quite easy to imagine an ugly, angry God–a God full of wrath and indignation. It’s quite a lot more to imagine a God who loves–loves so much in fact that he allowed his son to die.

I’m having a much harder time lately, and as I grow older and as I become more drenched in the scripture, to imagine the angry God who has nothing to do but think up ways to hurt people or who looks forward to the day when he can punish all those who have done wrong. I’m finding myself more and more drawn to the God of love who resurrects. I’m finding myself more and more drawn to the God who weeps and less and less drawn to the God who reaps. Maybe, just maybe, God weeps for us. Maybe he pities the miserable state we are in even now. Maybe.

Maybe it’s grace that does this to a person.

  • Share/Bookmark