Tuesday, December 05, 2006

the gift

[I’m so bummed to take so long to write this post. Actually I just got too busy today and realized I hadn’t blogged until this evening. Bloggus interruptus…]

A child is born to us! A son is given to us! And he will be our ruler. He will be called, “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Eternal Father,” “Prince of Peace.” His royal power will continue to grow; his kingdom will always be at peace… (Isaiah 9:6-7 Today’s English Version)

Our new series called The Gift is based on these ubiquitous Christmas card verses. Isaiah’s prophecies are just downright chilling, eerie and profound with predictive force. As a matter-of-fact, some Bible experts and higher criticism scholars believed the book had been tampered with by Christian scribes to make the messianic passages more explicitly Jesus-directed. The discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls blew that away, with nineteen copies of the book of Isaiah radiocarbon-dated between 335 BC and 122 BC. That’s a lot of years before Jesus appeared on the scene. The manuscripts were nearly 1000 years older than any Isaiah manuscripts existing before.

I mentioned in the message that the new Ruler of this coming kingdom was reclaiming the planet:

“When God created man in His image—male and female—He said they were to rule over all that He had created, and were commanded to subdue all creation. Earth was given to them. After Adam and Eve decided Satan had a wonderful plan for their lives, then disobeyed God and fell, they abdicated their role in governance and in essence turned the deed of the planet over to the deceiver. That’s why millennia later when Jesus was being tempted by Satan just prior to beginning His ministry, Satan shows him in a heartbeat all the kingdoms of the world in all their power and glory and says to Jesus, ‘…I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.’ Luke 4:6-7 (New International Version). Interestingly enough, Jesus doesn’t argue that point. He simply says, ‘It is written, worship God and serve Him only.’ The birth of Jesus was an invasion, a hostile take-over, of the earth. That’s why the apostle Paul calls Jesus ‘the last Adam’. As a man—and God—Jesus was taking the deed back. So when Isaiah prophesies that this man-child will be our ‘Ruler’, he’s revealing a Big Story.”

There are actually several different theories as to why Jesus was born, crucified and resurrected…this idea of reclamation and spiritual warfare is just one of them. All have merit; I actually believe there is an element of truth in all of them and they aren’t mutually exclusive. The one I threw out may be a little more controversial, but a verse in John’s gospel lends a bit more credence here:

Now is the time for this world to be judged; now the ruler of this world will be overthrown. When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to me.” In saying this he indicated the kind of death he was going to suffer. John 12:31-33 (Today’s English Version)

Three times in John’s gospel Jesus refers to Satan as the ruler of this planet. We might consider this more of an illegal Mafioso power-grab, but regardless of the legalities or whether we consider Satan’s remarks as bluff and smoke-and-mirrors (that would fit the character of the “father of lies” in John 8:44), Jesus still referred to him as the ruler. Even Paul refers to him as a ruler—or prince—and John, in his old age, says that “the whole world is under the control of the evil one”. It sounds a little Star Wars-ish, but this is the original cosmic story, way before George Lucas was a gleam in his daddy’s eye.

Two worlds in conflict.

And don’t you sometimes feel the gravity of both?


  1. The gravitational pull of two worlds... isn't that the great paradox that brings both frustration and excitement into our otherwise "normal" little lives.

    Len Sweet in his book Quantum Spirituality writes, "We are called to be IN this world. Not OF it. But not OUT OF it, either!" And that is where the excitement and frustration come together.

    It's exciting, I think, because who else (other than God) offers the average bumpkin (of course I am talking only about myself here)a chance to "go undercover" on a mission to spread the seeds of real freedom and at the same time to thwart the plans of the bad guy.

    And while our weapons are not of this world and don't "appear" as cool, on the surface, as those of 007... at second glance aren't they even cooler (in a not very techie... but really effective sorta way)? I mean, really when did an Aston Martin DBS have the affect of changing a person's life like a simple soda on a street corner given in love along side the influence of the Holy Spirit?

    And it seems to me that this is where the frustration begins.

    As we "infiltrate" the culture, we become like the Hebrews moving into the promised land... we get addicted to the "coolness" of the "gods" of our neighbors and before long we are swept away into the current that we are suppose to "sweep up". We find ourselves traitors to the One who sent us.

    "Traitors" is probably a little strong and yet the repercussions of turning from God's plan make it seem appropriate.

    So what is the solution? Is it an education problem?

    Peter wrote that everything we need for life and godliness is found in getting to know God better. Wow what if that were actually true (and I think it is)?

    What if every need in our life was met by a correct understanding of God and his passionate love for us, instead of the "cool" solution this world offers. Would that offer a lasting solution to releasing us from the gravitational pull of the corrupted world?

    I'm not sure? In theory... of course it would, yet knowing this, I still find myself torn by the thoughts instilled in me before I can even remember by the culture that would try to win me away from the one who is trying to save me.

    Frustration... excitement... I guess it really depends on when you ask. The gravitational pull of two worlds... definitely!


  2. Chad,
    I really like your "infiltrate the culture"-line. And I suppose "love" is the ultimate Fifth Column.

  3. Yeah... love... now that's sneaky.

    And to hide it by letting it seemed trivialized by become a child's "golden rule". Hahaha.


  4. I loved the message so much that I bought the CD!

    Next year for Christmas, what do you think about focusing on one gift to give, not 25: a gift to our Lord and Savior. 'remember Jesus' heart-felt prayer in John 17 just before he was handed over to be crucified? He prayed for unity in the church among other things... He said, "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me".

    So the perfect gift to Jesus is to give him ourselves and to function as one body, for His glory!Do you ever wonder sometimes at Christmas with all the gift giving,parties, cards... if it is Satan's way of taking the focus off of Christ and onto other THINGS? I heard from a Christian website the history behind how Christmas got started from some other party that the Romans use to throw each year in mid December, "The Roman's celebrated their god Saturn. Their festival was called Saturnalia which began the middle of December and ended January 1st. With cries of "Jo Saturnalia!" the celebration would include masquerades in the streets, big festive meals, visiting friends, and the exchange of good-luck gifts called Strenae (lucky fruits). "

    'kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

    Anyway, I don't want to sound like Ebenezer, but I hope as a church we can give our Lord the ultimate birthday present next year for Christmas... then the world will know...

    For our King and Kingdom