Our God is secure in His identity! That is probably not a big surprise to most of you. But the truth of the matter is that humanity has often struggled with the identity of God. We have a lot of preconceived notions about the way the Creator should behave.
He has no need to gain my approval or yours. But this does not mean that He doesn’t care what we think of Him. In fact, God would want us to know that there is nothing more important than what we think of Him. This will shape how we view the world, people and all that life brings us. On my own I will usually end up with one of two views of God – 1] God is all-powerful, out there and pretty scary or 2] God is connected to me, very convenient and even defined by whatever I want.
Both views of God are destructive, while at the same time having aspects of truth. These views and all other incorrect views will ultimately destroy our faith and God’s place in our lives. God is all-powerful and connected to me at the same time. The God of Scripture is the perfect culmination of all that is Good and right because He is the one that made all that is good and right. This comes into focus in Jesus.
He is God and fully connected to us. In fact, He literally becomes human while still being fully God. This is called the Incarnation of Christ and it is one of the primary aspects of God that humanity tends to struggle with. We aren’t comfortable combining an Almighty God with a God that is humble enough to join us in living on this planet with all its dirt, mess and death.
So far, in the first chapter of Hebrews we have seen that Jesus is the Creator and sustainer of all. We have been taught how he is much greater than the angels and that He is nothing less than God Himself. That is awesome and fitting for God! But then comes our text for this week. The second chapter of Hebrews shows us that Jesus is also very humble! He even comes to us as our servant. This is just too much for some people. The truth of the matter is that unless we have been a bit “offended” too, we probably haven’t thought enough about this amazing attribute of our God.
If this is a ho-hum thing to our faith then we are lacking an understanding of our sinfulness or the depth of God’s love for us. Our need is great but God’s grace is greater. Our death is a very real problem that is far beyond our ability to fix, but Jesus’ humility entered in and conquered even death. Jesus became one of us so that He could blaze the trail for us to get back to God. We read this is Hebrews 2:
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 5 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Today… He Knows,
I remember the first time I encountered Shakespeare and Homer’s Iliad in ninth grade. It made my head hurt. Every-one told me how magnificent the writing was and I am not saying they were wrong. I just needed to face the reality that I didn’t get it. I wasn’t as “smart” as I thought I was. I had that same feeling as I struggled through Calculus III and then years later in seminary tried to fight my way through Hebrew language acquisition. Can you relate to things just not clicking? You read it over and over or look at it from different angles but it just doesn’t get through.
In the spiritual world, humanity has had this basic problem ever since sin entered the scene. The filter or the processing mechanism of our hearts and minds seems to make things foggy instead of clear, or messy instead of clean. The core reason for this problem is we think too highly of our own abilities and want to go about life as the ruler instead of being ruled by God.
The beginning of the letter of Hebrews starts by telling us that God has always come to us and He still does. He speaks into our lives and our souls. God has come to us in all times and in various ways, culminating in the arrival of Jesus. God is not silent and He speaks clearly. The problem has always been that we just don’t want to listen or we don’t like what He has to say. Either manifestation of the problem ultimately results with people telling God “NO” in one way or another.
But the really good news is that one of the over-riding themes of the Bible is that God knows this and it is why He keeps speaking and keeps coming to us. It is really one stream of words from God that in the end reach their culmination in the birth of a baby in Bethlehem. All the words, actions and engagements of God in the Old Testament were “earlier chapters” in the story of Jesus.
God’s main purpose for the creation of Israel in Genesis, through Abraham and his descendants, was to bless the world through the Savior to come. As Israel grew from one family to a large kingdom the primary purpose was always to bring forth the arrival of the “ONE” and not the growth of the earthly kingdom of Israel. This is an important reminder for the Church of Jesus Christ today. We need to guard against getting caught up in “big” or “impressive”; instead we are to be consumed with the arrival and growth of Jesus in us.
This upcoming Sunday our text in Hebrews will speak to all people, in all times, and in all places that have ever wondered – hey, what is God like? The writer to the Hebrews tells us that the answer to that question is found in Jesus. In verse 3 we read, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” I invite you to come this Sunday and hear God speak into your life.
I just read an email from a dear friend of mine. He told me about life and death. He was processing the profound complexity of losing someone that matters to him. He described the blessed connection they shared together with the shadow of death present in the room. My friend told me of sharing some of life’s sweetest elements with someone even as this life nears its very end. The words that he chose to share with me were a blessing and a gift. Those words from his heart and life fed my soul this morning as I write this little note to you. TODAY he gave me a great gift!
We are invited to learn from those who have gone before but not live in a prison of past regrets. We are to anticipate the unknown future but don’t look at it filled with fear and worry. We are invited to live confidently TODAY knowing whose we are and who we are. Each of us can live lives of impact and significance as Children of God. Does that describe you?
It may be fun to reminisce about the “good ol’ days”. Or it may also be fun to anticipate the approaching vacation you have planned for years. But it may not seem as fun to get up this morning early, work or go to school and then finish the rest of the tasks that need to be done TODAY. God wants us to live today in His Kingdom no matter what fills the day. He wants us to learn from the past but not dwell there. He wants us to plan for the future but build it through TODAY.
This message series will even connect us to the potentially appearing abstract sacrifices and priest-hood of the Old Testament through Jesus in a way that we see it matters for us. We will see God’s way of doing things and we will celebrate just how relevant it is for us as we live out our TODAY. I look forward to traveling with you and Jesus as we consider yesterday, Today and forever.
Pastor Nick Mundis