Infinitely Greater

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When God comes in

8fec65aa copyLord, come into my heart. It’s hard for me to get the door open very far, but if at the Incarnation you managed to squeeze into an embryo, perhaps you could make it into my heart too—even if I only manage to crack it open a bit.

Sorry about the clutter inside. There are things that shouldn’t be here, but come to think of it, the first place you came to wasn’t exactly a clean scrubbed hospital room—it was a barn. That being the case, perhaps you would venture to enter my heart too.

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I have been told that sin is something you do not look upon or come close to. However, if a bad smelling cow shed was your place of your birth, there’s probably no place you wouldn’t come if invited. That’s a relief.

As a matter of fact, you seem to make a point of coming to where things are not as they should be. You walked and talked and ate with fallen, failing people; it appears that sin doesn’t keep you away.

And interestingly, when you come, sin decides it’s time to leave. It flees like darkness before the light. It melts like wax on a candle.

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Thanks for coming into my heart. I know there’s still a lot of stuff that needs to go, but because you are here, I have a feeling it’s not going to stick around for long.

And not only that, but your presence causes everything that is wholesome and true and lovely to flourish and grow. When you are around goodness goes viral.

It makes me wonder why anyone would ever keep you out.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

The Great Divide

The most important verse in Scripture is “And the word became
flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory of the only Son from the Father . . .”

christ_rembrandt_1This verse—“The Word became flesh”—is the Great Divide. In all other religions it is Word became word—a philosophy, a moralism, a system, a technique, but for all time and all men everywhere, “the Word became flesh”—the Idea became Fact.

Then I got hold of this difference (between all world religions and Christianity) in all other religions it is the Word become word, but only in Jesus Christ, did the Word become flesh. Then (and only then) Everything fell into its place. I had the Key, and this Key fitted everything in East and West . . . Religions are man’s search for God. The gospel is God’s search for man. Therefore, there are many religions, but only one gospel.

–E. Stanley Jones

Painting: “Head of Christ”
Rembrandt van Rijn

Debunking the myths

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Men forsook God, and made carved images of men. Since therefore an image of man was falsely worshipped as God, God became truly Man, that the falsehood might be done away.

–Cyril of Jerusalem
(313—386)

Art: Rembrandt

The humility of God

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By far the most significant event in the whole course of human history will be celebrated, with or without understanding, at the end of this season of Advent… What we are in fact celebrating is the awe-inspiring humility of God, and no amount of familiarity with the trappings of Christmas should ever blind us to its quiet but explosive significance…

God’s insertion of himself
into human history came about
with an almost frightening
quietness and humility.

…As millions will testify, he will come once again with the same silence and the same devastating humility into any heart which is ready to receive him.

–J. B. Phillips
(1906-1982)

Artwork: Rembrandt

The return of the King

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Christianity is the story
of how the rightful King
has landed and is calling us
to His great campaign
of sabotage.

–C. S. Lewis

He is pursuing our heart

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The gospel says that we, who are God‘s beloved, created a cosmic crisis. It says we, too, were stolen from our True Love and that he launched the greatest campaign in the history of the world to get us back. God created us for intimacy with him.

When we turned our back on him
he promised to come for us.

He sent personal messengers; he used beauty and affliction to recapture our hearts. After all else failed, he conceived the most daring of plans. Under the cover of night he stole into the enemy’s camp incognito, the Ancient of Days disguised as a newborn. The Incarnation, as Phil Yancey reminds us, was a daring raid into enemy territory. The whole world lay under the power of the evil one and we were held in the dungeons of darkness.

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God risked it all to rescue us. Why? What is it that he sees in us that causes him to act the jealous lover, to lay siege both on the kingdom of darkness and on our own idolatries as if on Troy—not to annihilate, but to win us once again for himself? This fierce intention, this reckless ambition that shoves all conventions aside, willing literally to move heaven and earth—what does he want from us?

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We’ve been offered many explanations. From one religious camp we’re told that what God wants is obedience, or sacrifice, or adherence to the right doctrines, or morality. Those are the answers offered by conservative churches. The more therapeutic churches suggest that no, God is after our contentment, or happiness, or self-actualization, or something else along those lines. He is concerned about all these things, of course, but they are not his primary concern.

What he is after is us—
our laughter, our tears, our dreams,
our fears, our heart of hearts.

Remember his lament in Isaiah, that though his people were performing all their duties, “their hearts are far from me” (29:13 italics added). How few of us truly believe this. We’ve never been wanted for our heart, our truest self, not really, not for long.

The thought that God wants our heart
seems too good to be true.

–Brent Curtis & John Eldredge
“The Sacred Romance”
(emphasis added)

 

The startling statement

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It is quite unlike anything else. It is a thing final like the trump of doom though it is also a piece of good news; or news that seems too good to be true.

It is nothing less than the loud assertion
that this mysterious Maker of the world
has visited His world in person.

It declares that really and even recently, or right in the middle of historic times, there did walk into the world this original invisible being; about whom the thinkers make theories and the mythologists hand down myths; the Man who made the World. That such a higher personality exists behind all things had always been implied by the best thinkers as well as by all the beautiful legends. But nothing of this sort has ever been implied by any of them…

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The most that any religious prophet had said was that he was the true servant of such a being. The most that any visionary had ever said was that men might catch glimpses of the glory of that spiritual being; much more often of lesser spiritual beings. The most that any primitive myth had ever suggested was that the Creator was present at the Creation. But that the Creator was present at scenes a little subsequent to the supper-parties of Horace, and talked with tax collectors and government officials in the detailed daily life of the Roman Empire, and that this fact continued to be firmly asserted by the whole of that great civilization for more than a thousand years–that is something utterly unlike anything else in nature.

It is the one great startling statement
that man has made since he spoke
his first articulate word.

. . . It makes nothing but dust and nonsense of comparative religion.

–C. K. Chesterton, (1874 – 1936)
(Emphasis added)

He didn’t stay at headquarters

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Jesus Christ did not remain at base headquarters, receiving reports of the world’s suffering from below and shouting a few encouraging words to us from a safe distance. No, He . . . came down where we live in the front line trenches . . . where we contend with our anxieties and the feeling of emptiness and futility, where we sin and suffer guilt, and where we must finally die. There is nothing that he did not endure with us.

He understands everything. 

–Helmut Thielicke
(1908 – 1986)

Published in: on 12/23/2012 at 0:20  Leave a Comment  
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Getting a look at God

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One great advantage of the incarnation
(God in human form) is that
now we can see God.
Just look at Jesus.

–Larry Crabb

Why He came

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The Word of God, Jesus Christ,
out of his boundless love,
became what we are,
that he might make us what he is.

–Irenaeus  (ca. 125-202)

Published in: on 12/18/2012 at 7:37  Leave a Comment  
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Where God and man unite

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Jesus was God and man
in one person,
that God and man might be
happy together again.

–George Whitefield  (1714 – 1770)

God’s message to man

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Jesus is the Word of God.
He is not the best Word.
He is not the ultimate Word.
He is not the seal of series
of improving words.
He is the Word.

–Glen Scrivener

God is little

“God is great,” the cry of the Moslems, is a truth which needed no supernatural being to teach men. That God is little, that is the truth which Jesus taught man.

–Neville Figgis

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