Friday, April 18, 2014

C.S. Lewis on the Father and the Son

C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity, he writes:

“We must think of the Son always, so to speak, streaming forth from the Father, like light from a lamp, or heat from a fire, or thoughts from a mind. He is the self-expression of the Father – what the Father has to say. And there never was a time when He was not saying it. But have you noticed what is happening? All these pictures of light or heat are making it sound as if the Father and Son were two things instead of two Persons.

So that after all, the New Testament picture of a Father and a Son turns out to be much more accurate than anything we try to substitute for it. That is what always happens when you go away from the words of the Bible. It is quite right to go away from them for a moment in order to make some special point clear. But you must always go back.

Naturally God knows how to describe Himself much better than we know how to describe Him. He knows that Father and Son is more like the relation between the First and Second Persons than anything else we can think of. Much the most important thing to know is that it is a relation of love. The Father delights in His Son; the Son looks up to His Father.”

It is fit to end this lengthy quote with God own words:
[The Word] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, ESV)

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jesus on the Unforgivable Sin (A Reflection on Mark 3:22-30)

To me this part of the Scripture is like a list of unbelievers or doubters starting from Jesus’ own earthly family members, the people in general and here we will see – from the teachers of the Law. When these teachers from Jerusalem observed or probably only heard about Jesus’ works, especially His authority over evil spirits, they concluded: “He has Beelzebul in him! It is the chief of the demons who gives him the power to drive them out” (Mark 3:22, GNB). “Beelzebul” is a derogatory name for Satan or lesser being than Satan, which literally mean “Lord of the Dung.” So they simple accused Jesus’ wonderful works as having it source from “the chief of demons.” They attribute Jesus’ powers as from satanic powers. They and the people were saying “He has an evil spirit in him.” (Mark 3:30) This is blasphemy!

So Jesus called them to him and spoke to them in parables: ‘How can Satan drive out Satan? If a country divides itself into groups which fight each other, that country will fall apart. If a family divides itself into groups which fight each other, that family will fall apart. So if Satan’s kingdom divides into groups, it cannot last, but will fall apart and come to an end” (Mark 3:23-26). This was a logical answer to their accusation. If Jesus cast out demons by the power of Satan, then the kingdom of Satan are destroying themselves. This is nonsense!

Satan is wickedly evil but not stupid. Satan has power but Jesus is more powerful. Satan is strong but not the strongest, Jesus is. That was why He said, “No one can break into a strong man’s house and take away his belongings unless he first ties up the strong man; then he can plunder his house.” (Mark 3:27) It was a declaration that Jesus has bound Satan so that through Him people can enjoy their freedom in God.

Jesus then said a subject that has puzzled and terrified people to this day – the unforgettable sin, “I assure you that people can be forgiven all their sins and all the evil things they may say. But whoever says evil things against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, because he has committed an eternal sin.” (Mark 3:28-29) Excuse me, will never be forgiven? Eternal sin? Why? Isn’t God is the God of mercy and grace? Wasn’t Jesus Himself died for us in order to provide the way for our sins to be forgiven? I don’t understand!

[I need to pray and pause for awhile to find answer and explanations to my own questions]

In his book Where the Action Is, Ralph P. Martin has written some good words of explanation that I couldn’t figure out just now. He writes, “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an attitude of resistance to the Holy Spirit, a rejection of God in human life and a perverse confusion of moral values and issues… In Jesus’ teaching, it was blasphemy to attribute satanic powers to Him or to believe that He was none other than a false prophet inspired by the devil. To attribute His words of mercy, done in God’s name to Satan, said Jesus, is to be morally perverse and spiritually blind. To say that He is the devil’s Messiah is to cut oneself off from all understanding of who He is, and so deny oneself access to God’s forgiveness. This is the ‘unforgivable sin’ – unforgivable because a person like this doesn’t know what right and wrong are, and he is in no conscious need of being forgiven.

Do not misunderstand the term ‘unforgivable sin’ here. Every sin is forgivable – all, except, the sin of deliberate action of a person who is so morally and spiritually twisted that he attributes God’s work to the devil. The unforgivable sinner, sad as it may seem, I think had lost all the sensitivity to God. I urge you, don’t be like this. The fact that you think you have done an ‘unforgivable sin’ is a sign that you’re not doing it. You’re still under God’s forgiveness. If you have sinned, God’s desire in Jesus Christ is to restore you through your repentance, confession and His forgiveness. Beware not to harden your heart like “the teachers of the Law.” Do you understand now?!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Jesus' Family Misunderstood Him (A Reflection on Mark 3:20-21)

Then Jesus went home. Again such a large crowd gathered that Jesus and his disciples
had no time to eat. When his family heard about it, they set out to take charge of him,
 because people were saying, ‘He’s gone mad!’” (Mark 3:20-21, GNB).

People still following Jesus wherever and whenever he went. He had healed the sick, exorcised evil spirits, spoke with authority, forgave someone’s sins, breaking the religious man-made rules – and choosing the Twelve apostles. All of these had caused people to forms opinion about Him. Anyone who had been close to Jesus for quite a long time will eventually must come to some sort of verdict about Him.

The first verdict we read here is: “He’s gone mad!” or “He is out of his mind!” (NIV) The first thing I observe about Jesus (and His disciples) is the kind of pressure He often lived under until He “had no time to eat.” The first group of people who misunderstood Him was His own family members. These three matters alone (not to include many other things to follow) would have been hard for the humanity of Jesus to bear.

As a Christian full-time worker I can identify with Jesus’ situations, though not fully. There were times when ministries works at hand take priority over an empty stomach. Sometimes dealing with people’s needs, meeting people and doing ministry preparations consumed lots of time and energy that I not just have no time to eat, but often forget to eat! My mother once told me that “You’re crazy! What is your job actually?” Because she observed that I always come back home at odd time, work during weekends, stayed many nights at camps, stayed up until early morning, went to campuses and mission trips, traveled by land and air going here and there. “You’re crazy!” she said. And this is my mother, you know. Well-meaning concern but no matter how much I tried to explains, she always misunderstood my works.

Now come back to Jesus…

His family were also misunderstood Him. Out of their genuine concerns, they really want “to take charge of him” because they were worried for Jesus’ well-being (“no time to eat”) and Jesus’ reputation (“people were saying, ‘He’s gone mad!’”) A lot of people all over the country followed Him, always confronting with the religious authorities, and remember this also – He choose nobodies, outcasts, middle-class, ordinary people as His apostles. These were the madness that everyone was taking about! These were reasons why His loved ones care so much. These matters had taken His security and safety away from Him.  The people don’t understand Him. His family doesn’t understand Him. I think His newly appointed apostles also don’t understand Him fully. I, honestly, sometime don’t understand why He does what He does and said what He said! 

We all are guilty of misunderstood Jesus one way or another. Perhaps, we also had misunderstood people in the same way. And that’s okay, it’s human. See, Jesus doesn’t rebuke His earthly family for thinking that way (only don’t accuse wrongly like the teachers of the Law later). As closing, ask yourself these two questions: 1) Have you ever been misunderstood by those who closest to you because of your commitment to Jesus Christ? (Remember, Jesus understand). 2) Have you misunderstand Jesus and make impossible demands upon Him in spite of your outward relationship with Him? (P.s.: Don’t try to assume Him)
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