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Posted by Gary Labels:

I was up tonight thinking about redemption. When our race was lost in darkness and we had turned our backs on God, he gave a lot for us. His sweat when he traveled across the terrain of Palestine on foot in those sandals they wore back then. Sand got between his toes and made his feet horribly stinky (and his toenails probably were not a pretty sight, either). His tears at Gethsemane, and on numerous other occasions. And of course his blood on the cross.

God could have said "damn you all" and just turned to his angels. Or he could have made a new Eden on Mars. But he didn't. It's so much easier to just move on with your life and pretend the person you have an issue with doesn't exist. That's what everyone out in the world does, and in our weakness sometimes we Christians too will imitate that.

But it's not what God did. Instead, he adopted human form. God changed a part of his own substance into the substance of his creation in order to save that creation. Not just did God give blood, sweat, and tears for us, but even to lower himself enough to HAVE flesh and blood is saying something.

What if you were a brilliant scientist and you created a bunch of sentient robots? Say they malfunctioned by being disobedient, and you wanted to hit the remote button that activates the self-destruct mechanism on all of them at once.

If for some reason beyond explanation you could change their programming by CUTTING OFF your arm and taking a cyborg graft, would you do it to save them? They are lesser beings - mere nuts and bolts. They wear and tear and require maintenance. Would you sacrifice part of your humanity for an incomparably lesser race that could simply be rebuilt from scratch? Would you make it so you required maintenance and a battery?

If you told your apprentices that you were going to take a metal arm graft, they'd object: "They're ONLY nuts and bolts!" Y'know, maybe some of God's angels said we were only flesh and blood. At one point, we were less than that even - just red dirt. God lowered himself by incorporating human nature into part of His being to save us when 99.9% of us didn't even care to ask for redemption.

The truth is, the creation cannot even hold a candle in comparison to its creator. Any robot we could make today is of very little worth compared to us ourselves. Inferior beings not even worthy to be called "alive." And if that is how far the gap is between us and OUR creations, think of how far we are from the dignity of our Creator! And yet He sacrificed Himself for us. He did not destroy us, but became one of us at the expense of His pride as an immaterial being above the need of sustenance. He did so much for us and loved us enough to incorporate us into His nature, though it was so far from His own.

I hope my 5:30 rambling is of some use to somebody. The point of this story is that God spared no possible expense in giving forgiveness and second chances to those who didn't even ask for it ahead of time. There are two ways I hope this will be applied:
1. I hope you'll see God in a clearer light as to why He did not consider it robbery (of His unique deity nature) [Phil 2:6, KJV] to take on our nature of flesh and blood. One more reason to appreciate and worship Him.
2. I hope, in your attempt to emulate His nature and "change your programming," you will have the same zeal and eagerness to patch things up with those who are at odds with you whenever you can, regardless of the reason you don't get along and not let sweat, tears, or even blood deter you from saving a friendship or family bond - or any lost soul.

The moment we walk away from redemption is the moment we deny the very principle by which we are saved.


Posted by Gary Labels:

[From two months ago on Facebook]
So, I was up all night again. It's time for another 5:30 rambling. Actually I started this at 5:15, but who's keeping count?

Tonight I thought about one of the crucial and unique aspects of Jesus' preaching: pacifism.

Now, some people may believe in a just war theory and treat war as a necessary (but undesirable) evil, but Jesus did not subscribe to that theory. When the Jews expected a person called Messiah to lead them into battle and destroy all the Gentiles to bring in a new age of peace for God's people, Jesus really didn't fit the bill. Instead, he came to suffer and die. This very thing is why Peter was rebuked "Get behind me, Satan!" Peter couldn't believe Jesus' prediction of his own death, and instead tried to explain to Jesus that the Messiah was supposed to be immortal (or at least not killable by man's hands).

Besides just the very purpose of His life, which is the strongest evidence of all for Jesus as a pacifist, the second strongest piece of evidence is in His teachings. Never does Jesus enforce the death penalty. The death penalty in the Old Testament, according to Jewish rabbis, was meant to say "your sin is great enough to deserve this. Repent and you will be given mercy." According to one scholar, a sanhedrin would be considered bloodthirsty if they enforced the death penalty once every seventy years. That's too much.

Jesus seems to follow that view by telling Peter to put the sword down and give the priest's slave his ear back. His great miracle is to command the waves and wind to be still. Zeus is credited for throwing lightning bolts - Jesus stopped the lightning.

This actually isn't what I wanted to write about. Here's where the thoughts of my heart tonight really open up: what is pacifism? It is more than simply refusing to shed human blood. To pacify (the verb that "pacifism" comes from) means to make something/someone at peace. It does not mean for you to just be at peace yourself, but to actively bring peace to an external situation.

Here is where Jesus' teachings really get hard to follow. When a brother is sinning against us, we're supposed to confront him about it in the least antagonizing way possible (Matt. 18:15). Even when we're hurt, we have to consider their feelings. And we have to try to make nice on more than one occasion before giving up on that person.

According to Matt. 5:23-26, we must settle matters with each other quickly before the problem escalates. There's so much contained in those three verses. How do you prevent unpeaceful actions such as lawsuits and murders from happening? By resolving the anger or hurt underlying the desire to harm somebody. That is how you make peace. And note also that, to Jesus, doing this takes priority over going to church and "going through the motions." Although the central point of this passage is "settle matters quickly to bring peace," I strongly believe that knowingly ignoring a conflict with a brother will cloud or taint our worship.

And finally: the beatitude does not go "blessed are those who stay at peace" but rather "those who make peace."

Pacifism is not a passive role. Jesus was the most active pacifist there is. It's about solving problems rather than just choosing not to make any problems yourself. It's about commanding storms to cease their rage. It's about commanding the water to yield to your feet and let you stand on it rather than pulling you down. It's about miraculous healings of people's afflictions. It's about the Spirit descending like a dove. It's about giving oneself up as a lamb.

Being a pacifist is the most active role somebody could ever take.