Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rest from Works

When I was in school I was told that if I worked hard and gave the right answers than I would get good grades and then people would pat me on the head and tell that me that I was bright. Okay nobody ever said that last part would come true. I guess that's just what I hoped would come true.

Regardless each one of us believes that if we do something we should get something whether it's prestige, payment, power or all of the above. An there is truth and justice to this way of thinking. It's the way we're wired.

The problem is however that we don't want to be paid for all the things we do, just some of them and this type of thinking is illogical. It's like telling your boss that you only want to be paid for half of the report you wrote on changing conditions in the marketplace. It's like telling the contractor that you only want to be paid for half of the dry wall that you put up. Sure your employers want to do it, but if there fair people they'll know that it's just not right.

And yet when it comes to sin we don't want to be paid for all of the sin we've piled up in our little corner of the universe. We just want to be compensated for the smiles we've sprung on people from time to time.

The reality is of course that we cannot choose what we receive payment for because we're not the ones paying. The sign on our door simply reads "I just work here." God as the great employer renders what is just.

Fortunately God knew that He could pay someone else for our pile of sin so that we didn't have to be weighed down by our misdeeds. That is why He invites us to join Him on a day off for the "workers" called sabbath. It's a day of rest from our labors. This is a very special day off of work. This day commemorates the day the great employer paid for all the time we've spent misusing company resources. It's a good day indeed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Sign to Heaven

When I was little my parents used to commute to work. My day care awaited me near where they worked so everyday we would load up the car and be on our way. There were many times that we would be in the car for several hours as we waited in traffic. You can imagine the boredom and certain frustration that would often ensue as we tried to get to work or home.

As we made those journeys day in and day out I began to look forward to the signs that indicated we were getting close to our destination.

In the spiritual world there are also signs. The Rainbow was a sign that God would keep is covenant never to destroy the earth again by a flood. Perhaps we take for granted this beautiful arch, but to the people immediately following Noah's day this was a wonderful reminder of God's mercy and provision. Abraham was told to circumcise his household. From the day God made a promise or covenant with Abraham circumcision was a physical sign that through Abraham's descendants all the world would be blessed.When the Israelites left Egypt God told them to bind the law in their hearts and minds as a sign that God delivered them from Egypt with a mighty hand.

Signs both remind us of where we've been, i.e. the flood, without blessing, in Egypt, and where we are going as in counting on seed time and harvest, blessings from God, and freedom from slavery both physical and spiritual. Perhaps this is why the Sabbath is so important.

The Sabbath is a tremendous sign because it points backwards to our origins as beings created by a benevolent God and forwards to our final redemption from this fallen world. However the Sabbath is unique because it is not only a sign that tells us where we have been and where we are going, it is also a sign of where we are right now with God.

"You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you." Exodus 31:13

There are many signs along the road to heaven but perhaps none is as worth noticing as the Sign of the Sabbath.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The First Principle

Could there be a first principle in the universe? Is there one singular concept that outweighs all the others? In addition is there a foundational axiom from which every other concept, idea and principle can follow?

This principle not only exists, but is named in the words of scripture. The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:13 "But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love."

Love is a foundational principle. In fact it is the foundational principle. Faith and hope are not far behind, but love is first and foremost. Thus upon love, the principle and the actual outworking in reality, are built every other concept both spiritually and physically.

This is why John could succinctly state in his self title epistle of 1 John 4 that "God is love." Thus love is entwined with both the spiritual world and the physical world. God built His universe on love.

The principle of love spiritually means that beings are to be others-centered. The principle of love physically creates a beautiful interdependence that sustains every atomic structure in the cosmos.

Love creates both balance and growth and thereby both sustaining and extending the reaches of the universe.

Unfortunately we live in a universe where the first principle was discarded. The resulting chaos has brought the opposite of true love: it's evil counterpart known as self-love. Self-love is not others directed and therefore breaks down the very structure of the universe. Self-love is myopic in nature and disconnects every thing that is affected from every thing else.

God wants us to return to the principle of return and rightly place love where it should be. Perhaps this is why God ask us to lift up our eyes to see that our salvation draws near. For how can we be focusing on ourselves when our attention is wrapped around our Savior?