Friday, December 9, 2016

Jesus: humanity as it was intended

Yesterday was the last class in my theological foundations course. It was fitting that we ended with the Incarnation. For the past three weeks, I have been thinking about Jesus Christ in his humanity and deity.

It is important for us to understand fully the balance between humanity and deity. To emphasize one can lead to a detraction of the other. There is no division in Jesus' person. He is fully God and fully man in one person. As an old song sings it, he is "meekness and majesty, manhood and deity."

At Christmas, we tend to focus more on the humanity. We look at the baby, the stable, the difficult circumstances of Mary and Joseph; the angels, the shepherds, and the star. It is miraculous! A child born to a virgin; a child who is God's own son, condescending to humanity. And of course, it does not end on Christmas Day. Jesus came for a purpose. Jesus came to redeem. And in addition to that, in his humanity, he was the perfect human being.

Jesus, while in his humanity, was sinless. He is the perfect example of what humanity was meant to be. My professor asked yesterday if anyone was willing to admit if they'd ever worn a "WWJD" bracelet. He could not understand why some scholars would dismiss the question: "what would Jesus do?" Of course, the whole trend became a fashionable, trendy thing, which is a good reason to ignore it, but he thought the question a valid one. Surely, if Jesus is our example, how he conducted himself is something we ought to be interested in.

When we think about humanity, where do we begin? When we think about Jesus in his humanity, where do we begin? Do we look around at others and ourselves, and then look to Jesus, wondering if he is like us? I was quite struck by the words in my theology textbook with regard to this:
Our understanding of human nature has been formed by an inductive investigation of both ourselves and other humans as we find them about us. But none of us is humanity as God intended it to be or a it came from his hand. Humanity was spoiled and corrupted by the sin of Adam and Eve. Consequently, we are not true human beings, but impaired, broken-down vestiges of essential humanity, and it is difficult to imagine this kind of humanity united with deity. But when we say that in the incarnation Jesus took on humanity, we are not talking about this kind of humanity. For Jesus's humanity was not the humanity of sinful beings, but that possessed by Adam and Eve from their creation and before their fall. He was not merely as human as we are; he was more human than we are  (emphasis mine). . . We should define humanity, not by integrating our present empirical observations, but by examining the human nature of Jesus, for he most fully reveals the true nature of humanity.
We do spend a lot of time looking at humanity whether it is in others or in ourselves. And there are times when we tend to see Jesus as more of a better version of ourselves. We may speculate about whether Jesus did this or that, was tempted by this or by that. Yes, he understands our weaknesses, but to see him as merely a more evolved human detracts from his deity as well as reflecting a poor understanding of his humanity. This is the time of year when we are reminded often of his humanity. Let's remember that his humanity did not end after the manger; in fact, he remains eternally human. He is the most human being in the history of the world. That is who that baby is.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Mystery

At the right time, God sent his Son, and the Word who is from the beginning came into our history. The Word who was with God became God with us.

According to God’s plan, as the centerpiece of history, God the Son emptied himself. The One who created thrones and dominions and rulers and authorities, and who upholds them all by his powerful word, humbled himself by taking on the form of a servant. God-with-God and God-equal-with-God made himself nothing by adding rather than taking away. The Creator took on the likeness of his creatures.

For our salvation the omnipotent One became weak, and the self-existent One became subject to death. To make us rich, the heir of all things became poor. To destroy the one who has the power of death, the radiance of the Father’s glory veiled himself in humanity so he could die.

And in the mysterious wisdom of God, it is by the veiling of his glory that the Son displayed God’s glory to us. “No one,” God told Moses, “can see me and live,” but in the Son, the image of the invisible God, we can see the unseen One. In Jesus, who came from the Father’s side to show us God’s glory, we see “all God’s goodness pass before us.” We see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

In the mystery of God’s will, for our sake, the exalted Son chose to make himself nothing and be born as one of us. The one for whom and by whom all things exist came to die to free us from the fear of dying. The Lord-of-all was born as Mary’s little son, bringing us salvation.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Learning to let go

When my daughter was learning to drive, I was determined to not be one of those parents who gasped, yelled, or reached over to grab the steering wheel. If I was calm, she would remain calm, and all would go well. Thankfully, she was required to take a behind-the-wheel class from a qualified instructor who was not winging it like me. There were no mishaps, and she was now armed with a driver's license. The next milestone was the first time she drove on strange roads to a new place. At night. In the dark. Alone. 

I asked her to call me when she reached her destination and to call again when she was coming home. I was determined to not be one of those parents who was constantly checking the phone or the clock, but I began to get nervous when the minutes ticked by. When she called upon her arrival, I was so relieved. However, she left much later than I had hoped, so I stayed up and alternated between praying and worrying. Thankfully, there were no mishaps, and the baby bird came back safely to the nest. Since that first time, she has taken other journeys farther from home, so I have had to learn to let go and not fret quite so much. 

You probably have your own stories of when your children first learned to drive and that first big trip alone in the dark. But what about the spiritual journeys our children are on?

As a parent, I believe that my daughter's salvation was of the Lord. Not because of what I did or did not do as a parent, thank God! I also believe that her keeping and growth are in His hands as well. But what if the path He has placed her on includes suffering, struggles, and questions? This is where it gets hard and where it can be hard to let go. That maternal instinct in me wants to reach out and grab the wheel, as it were, and steer her toward what I think is the smoother road. But there comes a point when Mom can't make everything all better anymore. 

Even though, a parent's spiritual influence is so important, I was never meant to fill the place that only God can in my daughter's life. He is a better teacher, protector, and guide than I can ever be. It has also been good for my sanctification to learn to pray first and speak second, when it has been my habit to do the reverse. This transition has been a growing experience and caused us both to depend upon the Lord in ways that we would not have learned otherwise. There are times I still struggle to let go, but I don't need to hold it together because I never really could. He was holding us all along, and He will never let us go.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Cutting the Proverbial Apron Strings


Among our favorite things  to do over  the holiday season  is spending time with our adult children and grandkids.    One of our children lives in Southern California  and every Christmas their family makes the trek  to Northern Nevada,  no matter how nasty  the road conditions are.   
 
We  always look forward to  the blessed chaos that descends upon our home—rosy cheeked kids playing in the snow,   late nights together  by the fire,  copious amounts of food,  and clutter everywhere.    And when everyone leaves and all is quiet again,  I  am reminded why  God made parents young [smile].     

It’s always  hard  saying good-bye because  we only get to be together  two or three times a year.   I can’t imagine how heart wrenching  the  farewells  must have been for my European  ancestors when  adult children set sail for America knowing  they may never  see their parents again.  

But  the idea  of  leaving  parents and cleaving to one’s spouse was God’s  good  design for marriage  and  it is  so vital that  Genesis 2:24  is  repeated  three times in the New Testament:  Matthew 19:5,  Mark 10:7-8,  and Ephesians 5:31.   Christian parents need to teach and model  these principles so that  their children will be prepared to transfer their deepest affections and allegiance to their spouse when they marry. 

The Hebrew word for  “cleave”  used in Genesis  is  dabaq,  meaning  to  cling or adhere to like glue.   There is a divine purpose in this  exclusively intimate relationship that Ephesians speaks of  as  a  profound mystery  illustrating  the relationship between  Christ and  His beloved Bride the church.    

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church."   Ephesians 5:31-32

Problems can arise though  when  parents overstep their boundaries and meddle in their married children's business,  or  married  children  continue to be emotionally dependent on their parents.    Therefore, it’s important that everyone has this sorted out before adult children decide to marry.     

Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

“The leaving of the father and  mother in reality means this,  that he must not allow his father and mother to control him as they have always done hitherto.   This is the point at which difficulties arise. …And, of course, when you look at it from the standpoint of the father and mother the situation should be equally clear.  They must readjust themselves even as their son does.    They have to realize that their son’s first loyalty now is to his wife,  and that he is a very poor specimen of manhood,  a very poor husband,  and ultimately,  a very poor son if he fails to show that loyalty.   They must not interfere in his new married life. … they must not think of their son any longer as simply their son.    He is now married,  a new unity has been created, and whatever they do to him they do to his wife at the same time. 
It is really the essence of the Apostles teaching about marriage that all parties involved have to realize that a new unity has come into being.  It was not there before but it is there now.” 1
 
In former times young adults typically stayed at home until they married but now it’s common for them to move away  before marriage.   That transitional  adjustment as a young adult can be every bit as trying for both parent and child,  and in some ways perhaps even more so.     

As a mother of three married children I know that the  doing is not always as easy as the saying,  and  I confess that I have not always succeeded in keeping my thoughts to myself.    It’s hard letting go when you love your child and have devoted your life to nurturing them to adulthood.   It is only natural  to want to continue helping and protecting  them  because no  matter how old they are,  you never stop being concerned for  their wellbeing.     My mom was still reminding me to wear a sweater  when she was in her 80's.     Nevertheless, once our children reach adulthood,  and especially when they take a spouse,   they have embarked upon their own life journey and our job is done.    Unless of course, they actually ask for our two cents.


 

 
1. Life in the Spirit, in Marriage, Home & Work; An Exposition of Ephesians 5:18-6:9,   D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones,  Baker Book House 1975, pg 224-225

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Community of Thanksgiving


Years ago, back in the days when the internet blog world was more of a community, I hosted something I called November’s Thanksgiving at my personal blog. Every day for the whole month, I’d post a few things I was thankful for and invite others to join me. All that thankfulness made what can be a dreary month a joyful one.

I miss those days!

I’m going to try to resurrect that community of thanksgiving here on this day before Thanksgiving. (We’re sort of a sisterhood here at Out of the Ordinary, right?) I’ll list a few things I’m thankful for and then open the mikes (so to speak) to you.

You can tell us what you’re thankful for in the comments of this post or in the comments on our Facebook page, and as I have time, I’ll move what you’ve written to the list in this post.

Today I’m thankful for
  • Snow. I’m not a fan of winter, which has already arrived where I live. But if it’s going to be cold, a little snow is a good thing because it brightens up the dark winter days. I’m thankful, then, for my white world.
  • The dog, who gets me out every day for a walk in the winter woods.
  • For all the readers of this blog. There are more of you than we anticipated when we started and I’m thankful for every one of you.
  • For our heavenly Father, who gives us good gifts, including the gift of his Son.
What are you thankful for? Let’s fill this place with thanksgiving!
  • Kim Shay is thankful for a cup of hot tea on a chilly evening.
  • Persis is thankful for a break from work to putter around the house, books that are waiting to be read, family, brothers and sisters in Christ, and that nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Cara Weineke is thankful for God changing my heart and revealing the mystery of His Will to me. I am also thankful for discovering blogs like this one and female theologians to follow to get a right understanding of Scripture.
  • Diane Bucknell says, "I'm thankful for the faithfulness of God in providing our basic needs over all these years of being self-employed - often at the very last minute. This living example has encouraged our faith in knowing that He will also be faithful to preserve our faith until He calls us home. I Thess. 5:23-24 - Happy Thanksgiving everyone!"
  • Myoshi Gardener is thankful for repairmen who are courteous and know what they are doing. (Yes, good repairmen are a blessing from God!—Rebecca)
  • Elena Parr writes, "My granddaughter, who was born two months early, is out of the NICU, and doing very well. She is my biggest miracle!" Now that's something to be thankful for!
  • Deb Crawford says, "My cup overflows with the best sisters in Christ who encourage me, laugh and cry with me, and love me unconditionally."
  • Barbara H is thankful for "God plucking me from an unsaved family to bring me to Himself and changing my life; my husband, 3 boys, daughter-in-law, and precious grandson (he spent the first ten weeks of his life in the NICU, too, so I can empathize with Elena! He's 2 1/2 now); good books to read; wonderful music to listen to; a beautiful world to live in - though marred by the fall, God's glory can still be plainly seen. He could have made it sheerly functional, but He made it beautiful as well. Learning to like decaf, sugar-free coffee (for health reasons) - it's still warm and tasty in the winter. Rain - our area has been badly in need of it. Facebook for easy keeping in touch with folks. FaceTime to visit with my son who's far away. Blogs like this one that proclaim God's truth and encourage ladies."