Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Display A New Spirit

“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

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. Thomas is only the most famous doubter of them all, used by Jesus as an example, and a foil, for teaching (again!) about cynicism 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 church 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.

So 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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