Monday, May 14, 2007

Exorbitant Claims

The Bible makes some astonishing claims concerning the privileges of believers. These claims can be divided into two types: those affecting us in this life, and those which pertain to the life to come. For example, God promises to wipe away every tear (Rev 21:4), and to glorfiy our mortal bodies (1 Cor 15:51f.). We live in the hope of a future communion with the Triune God, where we will know about "life, the universe, and everything," just as we are presently known (1Cor 13:12). All are marvelous claims, capable of sustaining us in the most difficult of situations, but I find that the more exorbitant claims concern our lives here on earth - they are truly amazing.

Take two promises from the Psalms. The first is from Psalm 34. "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears" (v.4). Deliverance from all fear is no small matter, and yet it is ours for the asking. "Why are you afraid," Jesus would ask his disciples. The presence of Christ should banish fear, and yet we remain fearful, because of our little faith and because we do not ask (James 4:2-4). We ask for things, but instead we should ask for Christ, for more faith, and for more love. "Perfect love casteth out fear" (1John 4:18).

In Psalm 37, we read, "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and he shall give you the desires of your heart" (v.4). If we commit our way to Him, trusting and waiting patiently for him (v.5, 7), then our desires will grow into conformity with God's desires, and we shall experience blessings and wonders - in this life. I think we doubt the Lord when He said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to my Father. And whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it" (John 14:12-14).

Christianity is an exorbitant religion, meaning that it goes beyond the mundane to promise the truly spectacular, the unexpected, the unimaginable. We, however, remain beggars at God's feast. We are content with so little, and God offers us so much - in the life to come, surely, but also much here in this time and this place. Let us rejoice in God's superabundant offerings, and receive our heart's deepest desires. This is no sorcery, no magic or ritual trick, only we must remain in Christ, and receive His Spirit.

{illustration: branch of ivy - see John 15:4}


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