Monday, June 15, 2009

Spirit led

I the first four chapters of Luke, the Spirit causes an old man to be in the right place at the right time to see the baby Jesus in the temple, affirms Jesus at his baptism, is proclaimed to be a new part of the upcoming ministry of Jesus, leads Jesus into the desert where he is tempted and leads him back again to Galilee. Over an over there is a combination of leading and then giving the words to speak. He gives direction, purpose (4:43, Jesus said his purpose was to preach the good news of the kingdom).

So how led am I? Do I hold God back by refusing to open my mouth and share what I have seen and heard? Do I listen to that inner voice, those inner nudges to go (be led) to certain people or places?

I fear that often I still preach the message of John (baptism for repentance and forgiveness) rather than the message of Jesus (baptism for the Holy Spirit that leads and moves us to speak).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

favor and grace

Luke 1 makes two references to the favor of God and the grace of God. One is a proclamation by the angels of peace on earth to men "on whom his favor rests" and the other is that Jesus was filled with wisdom and the "grace of God was upon him."

Sounds like a easy life and all that makes the nativity story sweet . . . until you look at the context. Jesus was in a cave lying in a feed trough before the first statement. His parents were on the way to Jerusalem to offer the Jewish sacrifice for the birth of the firstborn prior to the second. The text clearly says they were to offer a pair of doves or pigeons; that is the sacrifice of the poor according to Leviticus 12. The rich offered a lamb. So favor and grace resting on someone doesn't mean anything about socio-economics. In this case, favor and grace were upon a kid born into such poverty that they had no home, no proper clothes for him and could only offer the poorest of sacrifices.

So what does favor and grace mean to me? Am I so North American that I have come to believe that the American dream is God's grace to me? Am I so materialistic that I think that divine favor means middle class riches? Is it possible for me to view the world through God's perspective and not look at wealth as a measure of anything spiritual?

Grace and favor . . . I don't think they look like what we think they do.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Great in the sight of the Lord

Luke 1:15 "He will be great in the sight of the Lord". What does that mean? Was John to be so different that he he was praised by God even before he started? Was this his "destiny" or direction? What does it imply about other people? Does it mean that others would maybe not be so great in the sight of God?

It is a question that I must ask of self as well. How great will I be? How not-great will I be? Do I settle for being mundane or is that truly just settling while God has other plans for me?

It is so easy to become distracted with activities of this life and forget that the ultimate judge of a life is from the perspective of the Lord. When all is said and done, my body "sleep in the church yard" as the old song says, what will be God's perspective of my life? How great will my efforts look at that moment measured by the Creator against the potential that he placed within me before I was born?