In a resent gathering, we watched a movie where a minister stressed the greatness and enormity of God, via astrology and God's interest in our planet, and then in tinny insignificant man. It was breathtaking. Two texts reminded us of the vastness between the creator and the tinny creature man. "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands" (Ps.19: 1). In contrast to the heavens, "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" (Ps.8: 4).
Jesus was on the way to be crucified. Women mourned and wailed over what was being done to an innocent and just man. Jesus turned and said to them, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!' Then 'they will say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!"' For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?"
The Bible has a number of covenants, but the one that ought to be of great interest to a nation such as ours is recorded in Deuteronomy Chapter Four. It was and still is "God's roadmap for individuals and nations." Moses summarized it for his people before they took possession of Canaan.
It is not a new idea for humans to sit in judgment over God. The human mind is capable of concocting the absurd. It thinks, it can measure the immensity of an energy that is invisible. How can a creature be evaluated by a colony of ants, when the creature itself is not able to create an ant? Especially, when the creature regards himself as worthless or mere dust, and that he/she needs to prove him/herself by eliminating others in order to please a higher being. Who can keep such behavior in check? Job is an example of what Satan's work is all about and that a just man can outlast the worst the devil can do. Like Job, man thinks God is targeting him/her. The general conception was and still is that God was either disciplining or punishing Job for having overstepped his bounds. The author of the Book of Job introduced a concept that contradicts our human perception on what God is about when misery overwhelms and defeats humans. Like Jesus, 17 centuries later, the author assigned human suffering to Satan (Job 1-2; Lk.13: 16).
History teaches us that when politics separates from religion, demotion soon follows. The U.S.A. is in the process of being demoted to a second rate country by a new kind of progressivism. It began some time ago when her Judeo-Christian principles that guided the Constitution were replaced with secular progressive laws that "the Glory of the Lord" also departed (I Sam.4: 21-22; Ps.106: 20). These secular progressive laws have proven to be inadequate and opened the way to a more socialistic religious pogressivism. It is based on the idea that man cannot govern himself and therefore requires a Karl Marx or a religious system like Islam. A fusion of the two appears to be the glove that fits a hapless hand that now runs this country. We now have leaders that seem to think Marxist Islam can become what Christianity once was. The question that may escape us is, "Will this system be as flexible and tolerant as Christianity was?"
Jesus said to his disciple, I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest" (Jn.4: 35). Luther, along with Zwingli and Calvin were the beneficiaries of those that preceded them in seeding and planting for the harvest. There would have been no crop without the martyrs. The Roman Christian Church curtailed and restricted forcefully all individuals and groups that attempted to reform their religious system. The Pope and the priests had become the Church or body of Christ. The priests only were the administrators of salvation at a price. Saints, relics and indulgences had become the way to heaven and works had replaced grace. That was the religious system Luther lived and served under.
Jesus confounded his generation when he said, "Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." (Jn.8: 57). Abraham has become the father of those that believe that God grants grace to those that put their faith in Jesus. God justifies or accepts man for his faith and not for his work. Man's work is too sinful to matter in his redemption. God's grace alone can regard man fit for redemption, secured by the work of Christ. That is what Paul and all his followers believed and still do. But what did Abraham really believe? He believed that God would give him a piece of Land that shall become a permanent home for his offspring at a time when he had none. It was not about saving his soul but about an earthly heritage. It was his faith in that promise that motivated Abraham to take his cattle and sheep to Canaan and inspect the territory. In other word, he was testing God whether such a place existed. It was that promise of God that kept him believing and even seeing some fulfillment when he fathered Isaac. It was faith against hope and that is the kind Paul asked of his followers. Abraham did not sit still and let God do all the work neither should Christians expect grace to do it for them. Like Abraham, we too must believe that God, because of grace, will do what His Son promised. It is also correct that Abraham's faith grew by obeying God and so will our faith. We too must venture out into the world and remain faithful to Christ. There was a transformation after Abraham believed and separated from a polytheistic idolatrous society (Ge.31: 19). Christians too must separate from "Belial's world."(II Cor.6: 14-18). Before we were in Christ, our works gained us nothing, but in Christ works are expected (Eph.2: 8-9).