Monday, February 4, 2019

Four Epiphany: Salvation and Love 2-3-19

Fourth Epiphany: Jeremiah 1:4—10 ;  Psalm71:1—6;   1 Corinthians 13:1—13;   Luke 4:21—30

God created us for union with Himself--but because unitive love requires freedom, God gives us free choice, so this holy union is very slow. The ‘world, flesh and devil’ resist God’s salvation, so our primary task is spiritual warfare within our own hearts. The problem is within us, even if we see it around us. 

God usually interacts with us through human intermediaries. Messianic faith includes the human dimension in the divine salvation. The role of prophets is to communicate His message. The powers of this world reject God’s word, so the prophet often suffers. Perhaps no prophet suffered more than Jeremiah. When God called him, he was likely a teenager, and he was reluctant: “I am not able, I am too young” he said. It is a heavy load to stand before people and declare God’s word—made all the more terrifying because one cannot always be sure that the word is God’s and not one’s own… “Do not be afraid of them. You will be my prophet. You will tear down and raise up.” God’s prophet must be faithful—acting in trust. We must guard our souls from fear. Jesus also walked this same path. From the beginning there were those who sought to kill Him, and if He passes through the crowd at Capernaum, Calvary still awaits.

The Kingdom clash between Satan and God is present in our world and within each of us. Either we submit to God or something else will rule us. The dark passions within us are manifest in societal struggles. When we want to make the world the way we think it should be, we forget he unconscious evil which motivates us. We can only assume that our adversaries sincerely see the world differently from us and that they are as shocked by our interpretation as we are by theirs. Too often we project evil on our adversaries--using harsh language or descriptors. Blaming others for the troubles of the world works in securing political power, but Christians are called to conversion. It is the converted prophets who speak with integrity.

We can only repent of our own sin and Sin can be subtle—we do not openly embrace the Prince of Darkness, but we abide his presence. If we do not persecute God’s prophets, we do ignore them. When they suffer and die, we blame them for not staying quiet. Holiness, after all, must be tempered by the popular culture.

Paul offers us a solution. Choices made in anger, frustration, selfishness and pride cannot save us from the Evil. Love can, for love is of God. Every human needs to be loved and accepted—but this need for genuine love gets twisted by our doubts and fears. The failure to love is the cause of many of our problems. We lash out because we do not get enough of it, we withhold it and do not give it. We build a wall around our hearts to protect them from the pain, which also keeps out the love of God which would set us free. We wrongly define love as sentimentality, unconditional affirmation, or physical pleasure—stealing its power to save.  

Real love is crucified love. The struggle to embrace the love of God is the same in every age. Only those who love can be faithful prophets—and if we are not prophets then our lives are of no value.  His message to Jeremiah is true for us: Do not be afraid of them—whoever or whatever they may be, I am with you. 

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