Thursday, January 01, 2009

To Live in Freedom

Happy New Year 2009!

Wow, the years just seem to go faster and faster. I can't believe it's already 2009, which I'm pretty sure is I said when we started 2008. I have thought, periodically about posting some end of the year reflections. I thought of posting Christmas thoughts too, because I had some thoughts about Mary that I'd never considered before. The moment is past but... maybe I'll just share those thoughts anyway...

In the course of listening to the Christmas story over the holidays, I was struck with the manner in which God the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary so that only she knew the truth. No one else knew for sure. God did not send the angel to her family or her town. Not even to Joseph, though He did give him the dream later. Now do you really think anyone believed she'd gotten pregnant by God and was carrying the promised Messiah? Especially since God had been silent with Israel for the last 400 years and now this complete nobody of a girl from a hillbilly town was carrying the son of God in her womb? Who would believe that? Translate that to your sister, daughter, cousin or friend. And God did not tell anyone else what was going on. He made her look like an unwed mother. Like a fornicator. And He didn't do anything to make it appear any different for at least thirty years.

Why? She was a spiritual girl. She was loved God. She was making good decisions, and yet... she would not have appeared in any way to be virtuous to those around her. People would have ostracized her for her supposed sin and immorality, would have judged her, talked about her behind her back, and Joseph, too, because nobody else got the angel message. Yet here she was, in all her apparent "immorality," an integral part of the greatest spiritual event ever to happen in all of time. God becoming a man. And look how it was presented to the world.

God's ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. Pastor
Bob has been saying lately that with God, everything is opposite the way it is for man.

That has application for us. We think it's important to appear respectable. God obviously does not. Not only was a shadow of impropriety cast over Mary for years, Jesus had it even worse. He was crucified, stark naked on a Roman cross beside the city gates as a common criminal. For all sorts of people to walk by and gawk at.

Mary was condemned by people for doing something she didn't do, because that was the only way they could see the situation. Jesus was condemned by many also for doing things he didn't do, because that was the only way they could evaluate the facts they had. In neither instance did the observers have all the facts.

How often do we condemn ourselves for things we have failed to do, or did poorly, and yet we don't have all the facts either. Or, if we do, we're not thinking about them right then. Facts like as believers in Christ we are perfectly righteous and that's how God sees us, that we are not to be concerned with what others think, or what they do, only with the thoughts of the one who has saved us. In fact, we're not even to be too concerned with what we think about what we did. We're to be concerned with what HE did.

God doesn't want us to be occupied with our sins and failures. Nor does He want us to be occupied with how to be better. He wants us occupied with His son. With all that He has done for us.

I took Quigley on a walk around the park today and reflected on some of the things God was doing just there... I was healthy and so was Quigley, it was a beautiful day, the scenery was wonderful, there were no worries of being bombed or finding myself in the middle of a gunfight between opposing armies/sects/gangs. Quigley's learning to be a fairly decent walking companion... those are just the outward things.

More are the doctrines and truths that He's providing. Fantastic things that I see are life changing. Rooting out all the old ways that are going in the opposite direction from God's direction, and setting a new course for me. Or rather, showing me the course He's always had me on. Jesus died to make me free. I am called to live in that freedom.

And that would be my New Year's Resolution, if I made resolutions. To live in the freedom that Christ has called me to, that He died for me to have.