Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Further meditation on Matthew 1:18-25


In reading over this passage for a second morning, and talking to Jesus about His coming to save us, I thought for while about my utter dependence on God. How everything I have, everything I am and everything I can have and can be, comes from the gracious hand of God. It seemed to me, as I pondered, that this dependence is so complete that if ever God stopped thinking about me I would cease to exist in that moment. But no, that can't be quite right. I think that the Lord has given us a truly independent existence. That we have true free will to choose Love, that is to to choose God. Of course without the grace of God even that is impossible to us, after all, faith itself is a gift of God. I'm not sure I can explain what I'm getting at here. While we are dependent on God for everything, our very existence even, we have still been created as eternal beings. Designed to live forever in communion with God, and only in communion with God can we find true fulfillment and peace and joy. But having free will we can turn away from God, the most foolish thing any creature could possibly do! Having turned away from God we are no longer receiving life from Him, and so we are no longer truly alive, yet still we exist. Without God we still exist, we can think and function in the world but compared to the life we are meant to have with God, we are dead. Jesus, whose name means "God Saves", was born of a human mother, God in human flesh, in order to restore us to life and to communion with God.

As was pointed out in a commentary I read on this passage, this coming of Jesus, of God in human flesh to save us means that we need to be saved. That we are utterly without hope without Him. So our religion, our relationship with Christ, our knowing of God, these are not peripheral things for us. These are the central realities of our lives! You can't say simply, 'Oh yes I believe in God' and leave it at that. We need Jesus in every corner of our lives, because He IS our life. Claiming we love God and never talking to Him, never spending any time with Him, shows I don't really mean what I said. To live in this way is to be a "practical atheist" who, while claiming to believe in God, acts as if He did not exist.

The fact that I have, several times in my life, been a declared atheist, may be due to the fact that I find it very hard to proclaim something that is not true to me, a known Aspie trait. I cannot for long say "I am a Christian" if it is not my very identity, if it is not my center. This is because Christ demands that we die, that we take up our cross and follow Him. So when I look around me and realize that Christ is not central to all I do, that God is somewhere "out there" and not here with me, that is when it becomes possible to say, "well, probably there is really nothing out there after all, perhaps we are alone and there is no God." No God means I can do what I like, be free of all restraints, or so it would seem to the one lost in that lie. But God won't leave me out there in the darkness and constantly calls me back to Him.

To wrap up and figure out where my commit comes from this morning I just want to say that having God in my life is not something I add on to the edge of life. It is not just another item on my weekly "To Do" list. No, it is utterly central to all that I am, or it is nothing at all. Christianity is not something you can take on as a hobby, it is life itself. As Paul said in Galatians, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." I no longer have any life outside of Christ. My day starts and ends with God, God is with me every moment of the day, even when I forget about Him for a moment or two He is still there. As St. Patrick is said to have prayed:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.


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