Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Truth in Broad Daylight!

“Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country.” Mark 16:9-12

“All the churches which existed before the Lord's coming were representative, unable to see Divine truths except in shadow. But since the Lord's coming into the world, a church has been founded by Him, which has been able to see Divine truths in broad daylight. It is the same difference as between evening and morning. In fact the state of the church before the Lord's coming is called in the Word evening; and its state after His coming is called morning. Before He came into the world, the Lord was certainly present with the people of the church, but through the mediation of angels as His representatives; however, since His coming He is present with the people of the church without any intermediary. For in the world He put on the Divine Natural too, in which He is present with human beings. The Lord's glorification is the glorification of His Human, which He took upon Himself in the world; and the glorified Human of the Lord is the Divine Natural. The truth of this is clear from the fact that the Lord rose from the tomb with His whole body which He had in the world, and left nothing of it behind there. It follows that He took with Him from there the Human Natural itself from first to last.” True Christian Religion n.109

It is perhaps only a cold comfort, but comforting it is, to learn that the Apostles were as cynical and materialistic as we can be today. Not one of them would believe what they hadn't seen with their own eyes, hear with their own ears, or touch with their own hands. Doubting Thomas is only the most famous of them all, used by Jesus as an example, and a foil, for teaching (again!) about doubt and implicit trust.

The Apostles grew up being told that God’s presence was obvious in the miracles He performed. He punished those who offended Him and blessed those who obeyed the rules. And, those men who became leaders were also rich, proving that those who obeyed all the rules very carefully were blessed the most. Finally, God would occasionally send angels to His chosen people to tell them His messages. So their whole attitude was that for God to be present, He had to show Himself in some concrete way. When Jesus said things like, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father,” He was introducing an entirely new idea.

This idea may be new to us, too! How do we expect the Lord to show up in our life? Could it be that the Lord can show Himself to us only to the degree that we first trust in Him? How many opportunities to be blessed have we missed because we stopped to wonder whether the Lord would bless us or not? How many visions of the Lord's love in people have we missed because we wanted proof of the person’s reliability, or because they didn’t look like us? How many people have we hurt when we refused their testimony because it didn't jibe with the evidence of our own senses, the fallibility of which we conveniently ignore? How many times have we been right instead of kind?

If my physical senses were more powerful in my life than the evidence of my spirit, then perhaps I would believe if I had had seven devils cast out of me. If that is the way the Lord reveals Himself to me then I could believe anything. If there is no reliable witness beyond my five senses, then if some slick operator played on my grief and passed himself off as Jesus, doing some slick disappearing trick, I would be gullible enough to believe.

My belief in my Savior is not based on sense experience. It is much more firmly based than that. And it is not irrational or nonsensical; it is not intellectually empty. It is not dependent on my ideas, but on the internal evidence, the reasoning power of love, which I know I do not originate. My belief in my Savior excites my emotions, moves my spirit, and feeds my soul. My belief in my Savior motivates me to seek the balance of influences; to reject cynicism and materialism and join my beliefs and my feelings together into a coherent whole. I believe God is a spirit, and I am completely convinced of His actuality. I may not be able to see Him with my physical eyes, but I believe the report of His Word and my whole experience.

We can thus celebrate His resurrection displaying our spirit in broad daylight. Our love of what is good and true and our belief in His mercy will bring something new into the world. He will be the visible God living in us for all to see!

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