I just want to share with you one or two of the things that have struck me in the past couple of weeks since I last sat down to tap out one of these blog posts. The problem is, the things that have struck me don’t really lend themselves particularly well to words – clearly an issue for a blog post. I’m going to go ahead and give it a go anyway.
Let’s start with something amazing. This is the truth at the heart of the Christian message. For me, this short passage in the Bible is as good as any for boiling it all down to the bare bones of what Christianity is. Have a read of this, where I’ve marked out a few of my favourite bits in bold:
‘[Christ] being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross!’ Philippians 2:6-8
I mean, wow. I encourage you to read that aloud a few times, slowly; get it in your head. He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross. You see, Christianity isn’t always about doing something or saying something or being busy with this, that or the other. Sometimes it’s about stopping and reflecting in awe and wonder.
Where do we go from there? Well that passage is just 3 verses from the 31,000 odd in the Bible. When you think you’ve got your head round the last one (good luck with that), how about this one from the Psalms:
‘For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.’ Psalm 139:13-14
You know what’s pretty clear in the Bible? God cares. Well that’s obvious, you might think. He’d be pretty harsh if he made us and just left us alone afterwards (sorry to any deists out there). On the face of it, yes, that would be harsh…if we showed any appreciation for him whatsoever. But from day one we’ve been screwing things up rather well. Day after day we throw God’s love back in his face. We go round and round, locked in a struggle between good and evil that’s playing out within us (Romans 7:19). Where is God in all this? What have we done with that God who made us fearfully and wonderfully?
The New Living Translation puts it like this (up to now I’ve used NIV): ‘All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.’ Isaiah 53:6a
Things are looking pretty bleak. But that was just the first part of the verse. Read those 3 verses from Philippians again, and then come back and read the next part of Isaiah 53:6:
“Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.’
Just before that verse, in verse 5, Isaiah writes this: ‘By his wounds we are healed.’
This is amazing. We are privileged, you and I. This God, who is so much more than we can comprehend, (‘As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.’ – Psalm 103:11) made it possible for us to know him by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.
I haven’t even scratched the surface with this. There’s so much more to say and yet somehow you feel that nothing you can say even comes close. I don’t know who you are reading this or anything about you, but I hope it’s made you think.
For the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.