The early Christians began with the fact of Jesus. To be with him was more than to hear truth revealed; to be in his presence was to be in the presence of revelation—he was revelation!
Anyone who has been on a mountain with the mist all around them, with the shape of things all lost or obscured, knows what it’s like when the sun arises and burns away the mist and there is the real world, in all its grandeur and beauty. Many of us have been blessed to know friends who had that effect on our minds and certainly the early church found it to be true of Jesus.
The news about Jesus spread rapidly across the world, leaping from heart to heart, capturing men and women and when it did, all the supposedly invincible barriers between them turned out to be like mist before the sun.
Temptations of all sorts, habits and patterns of life that were thought to be too powerful or too deeply ingrained were broken to pieces and a new moral dynamic was discovered in experience. Yes, yes, not everyone experienced it as a dramatic and immediate experience but many did and in their tens of thousands they were living proof of what Jesus could do by his Holy Spirit in people’s lives. Paul reminds the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) of what they had been before they met up with Jesus and then he said, “And that is what some of you were but…” Jesus and his Spirit came into their lives and tore down filthy curtains, threw the windows of the heart wide open and let the wind of the Spirit sweep through, forgiving, cleansing and imparting strength and hope.
[But each sinner is unique with his or her own make-up, heritage, shaping and present environment. In some of us sinful patterns are more deeply ingrained and the current we swim against is more powerful than that faced by others. We find our victory over specific sins, sins that throw us down without hardly even trying, so it seems—we find that victory to be long in coming despite our longing for it and despite how powerful we believe Jesus to be and it often worries us. There are some of us whose worry—poor souls—becomes. We see what Jesus has done for others who committed themselves to his redeeming power so we begin to think maybe we aren’t truly Christ’s at all or, at least, that we care very little about holiness. We’re too disappointed in ourselves, too ashamed, too afraid of what others will think if they know the depth and nature of our sinfulness and because we’re swallowed up in thoughts like that, we aren’t able to recognize how profoundly we hate sin and hunger for righteousness. We aren’t able to see that this hatred and hunger is the proof that we have truly committed to Jesus Christ. We ran to him for forgiveness but we ran to him for holy freedom also and because we haven’t yet found the kind of freedom others seem to have found we begin to doubt the forgiveness. Despair sets in and tragically a handful of us can’t bear the burden of such a conflicted life and in our agony we end it and even in that we’re sometimes beaten rather than lamented! (“He should have…She should have…”) True, no doubt but…]
Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. John’s phrase in Revelation but Paul’s truth also in Colossians 1:15-17. God’s first thought was a humanity in the image of Jesus and everything else flowed from that because the eternal purpose of God is summed up in and under Jesus (see Ephesians 1:9-10 and Romans 8:29-30).
We’re not to think of God as a divine Mr. Micawber who began to wring his hands when the rebellious human family wrecked his fine plans and hoped that something would “turn up”. Imagine his surprise and delight when Jesus unexpectedly appeared. No, none of that! God eternally purposed JESUS and all that that name means and in him he finishes the glorious cosmic enterprise and when we see the end of it all we’ll spin like Snoopy in joy-filled delirium. And we’ll rejoice most of all in the fact that we love and rejoice in righteousness more than we ever imagined we could. This is the promise of God signed in Jesus’ blood and confirmed in Jesus glorious life (see Romans 5:9-11 and 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). What he started he will finish! First and last!
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.