Sunday, April 18, 2010
The Glory of God in the Face of Christ
Phillip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Phillip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?" John 14:8-10a
How do we know what God is like? Look to Jesus. This Jesus, who healed the sick, raised the dead, drove the moneychangers out of the temple, rebuked the Pharisees, washed the feet of the disciples, instructed and fed the multitudes, fulfilled the Law perfectly, sweat drops of blood, and died on the cross for the sins of the whole world (1John 2:2) is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power." (Hebrews 1:3a).
God is not a cold, distant being, concerned with self-promotion. God came to us in Christ, as a lowly servant. God still comes to us through His unchanging Word, by His Spirit speaking faith into our cold, lifeless hearts (Romans 10:17,Eph. 2:1,Hebrews 13:8). He forgives us our sins for Christ's sake, coming to us in our Baptism and in Holy Communion in physical means connected to His Word. He is still a servant, despised and rejected. In His servanthood His glory is found. This is what Lutherans refer to as the theology of the cross: God, the creator of the universe- holy, holy, holy-would condescend to serve us poor, miserable sinners.
"For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." 1 Corinthians 1:24
What does this mean for the Christian? Our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). Christianity is about Christ, not how great of a Christian life I can live, or the "look what Christ has done for me, don't you want Him to do it for you?" type of mentality. Or trying to climb to higher levels of holiness, without concern for loving the neighbor. That is the theology of glory. The only advertisement for Christianity that my life can be is summed up in the phrase, "I am a poor miserable sinner, ask me how." That is the only thing I am good at! But I can tell you about the one who died for the sins of the whole world, and who still forgives me. I am a baptized child of God, and can return to my baptism daily in contrition and repentance! Good works flow from the forgiveness God gives us in Christ. The Christian is continually convicted by the Law, and forgiven by the Gospel. Out of Christ's service to us, we love and serve our neighbor. This is the Christian life, according to the theology of the Cross.
"Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.'" John 15:20
"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6