“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – NO. 13&14 – UNDERSTANDING GOD
If the subject of this article has a familiar “taste,” it is not intentional. It comes from an attempt to understand the power we so commonly call “God,” the one Jesus said was “Spirit.” (Jn. 4:24 )
Jesus told Philip (and the others) “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (Jn 14:9) Paul refers to Jesus as ‘…the image of the invisible God…” (Col. 1:15) For me that’s a very important concept. From Paul’s relationship and understanding of Jesus, he can say what is invisible, is visible in Jesus. There is no evidence Paul had seen Jesus until, according to his own testimony, he “saw” Jesus on the Damascus road. Even then, it’s not about recognizing Jesus as someone he knew. It was during this and other encounters that Paul realized Jesus was the human image of the invisible God. The writer of Hebrews feels the same way when he writes, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.” (Heb.1:3 NIV)
In order for the readers of scripture to “see” God in the image and representation of Jesus, they will have to “see” (understand) Jesus. And while I don’t like to hang an understanding of God on one or two verses of scripture, it seems to me these verses represent a significant understanding of who God is. So how are we to “see” Jesus?
While Paul’s letters give us several teachings about Jesus, there are few which describe his personality as he interacted with people. Nearly all of them speak of his work of love and redemption.
Therefore, for me to “see” God’s invisible nature in Jesus, I need to “see” Jesus. I’m not sure how that could be done without the gospels. I know there are those Old Testament passages about the nature of God’s Messiah. But for the most part they are structured in a poetic and utopian fashion. However it is in the gospels that I can see Jesus interacting with the world through the eyes of the witnesses. If Jesus reflects the exact image of God, then I can understand God by understanding Jesus.
Now, if I can trust these scriptures, as well as my understanding of them, and the Jesus I see in the gospels, it means I can better “see” (understand) God. It means I can let go of the conflict between the pictures of God in the Old Testament and the image of God in Jesus. It means I can “see” how their understanding of God was seen (understood) through the law of Moses.
Are there other ways to understand God apart from Jesus? Yes. But they are incomplete, unless they reveal how God and man have relationship. For example, Paul, in Romans 1:19-20 says “God’s invisible qualities have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.” By that he speaks from the position of all ancient people observing the works of nature as a way of understanding the deity.
It is Jesus who brings nature and the reflection of God together in action and in teaching. In Luke 6:35,36 Jesus says, “Love your enemies, do good to them and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful just as your Father is merciful. In a comparison passage, Jesus says, “He (God) causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:45)
That this is the nature of God is played out in Jesus’ own life. He finds no problem presenting a different
understanding of God than those who tried to follow exactly the law of Moses. When he said he did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, he did not mean he was going to obey all the 613 laws therein, even though, if you look, you can find those who say that’s what he meant.
For me it means in Jesus I can see the true intent of the law and the prophets. Moses never said one command was greater than another. But when Jesus was asked, the reply was to love God, neighbor and self. And, in Matthew he also says, all the law and the prophets hang on that. Paul says the same thing in Gal 5:14. So fulfilment of the law is just that, not a strict keeping of such things as the Sabbath, which Jesus said was made for man, and that the Son of Man was Lord of the Sabbath. (Mk 2:27,28)
In these and other illustrations of Jesus’ actions and teachings, I can build an understanding of God I can better try to live out in my life.
CONCERNS: Philip Pierce’s mother is under hospice care. The decision concerning Kevin Cornett’s unborn baby is that the doctors at UVA want to see them again at the end of the month. However, as of now, the baby’s chances are slim. T. J. Hall is having to take it easy due to heart issues. It was good to see Jim White at church Sunday as he recovers from the bike accident. Teryn Gaynor has been visiting with her mother in Ala. as she undergoes cancer treatment. J. R. Hall (Judy and T. J.’s grandson, continues to have tests run on his eyes. Dr. Del Bolin is working with the Baxter Institute in Honduras this week. Scott Blessing’s father had to have a pacemaker and is doing better.
Jim Hunter is having neck and back problems which cause a lot of pain. Continue to remember Sheila Jansen and her daughter, Amber, Marjorie Wilson (cancer), Melanie Gentry, Joni Beach’s parents, as well as her aunt, Pat Voss, and a niece, Jamie Cole. Wayne Phlegar, Lee Nicklas, Sandy Blanchard and those caring for her as she deal with cancer and loss of sight. Mary (MS). She is a friend of Kim
Hall’s. Daniel Ray Barns, Sandra Anderson, Gil Richardson (MS), Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Mary and Jim Smith and Tim Elder. Jenni Cullum has a growth on her eye, and it seems to be responding to treatment.
OUR DAILY BREAD: APRIL 4-9
Monday: Daniel 5:17-28
Tuesday: Matthew 14:44-52
Wednesday: I Samuel 17:41-54
Thursday: Psalm 70:1-5
Friday: Matthew 7:13-29
Saturday: Psalm 1:1-15
OUR DAILY BREAD: APRIL 11-16
Monday: John 4:27-4
Tuesday: Ecclesiastes 11:1-10
Wednesday: Psalm 86:1-17
Thursday: Genesis 3:8-21
Friday: II Timothy 3:1-17
Saturday: Psalm 84:1-12
Betty Foy died on Wednesday afternoon about 3:30. She was in her bed, surrounded by her husband, Larry, and members of her family.
Had the inside article not been printed, and had there been more time, I could have easily filled it with stories about her, Larry and the family. However, I want all those in and beyond our congregation to know what a strong person she was. In many ways she lived out the scripture where it says, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”
She was born a coal miner’s daughter, in Richlands, VA. It seems from her roots she was blessed with a strong conviction of equality for all people.
Even before she and Larry relocated to Roanoke from Blacksburg, when they visited with Martha and her family, she and I would have these conversations after church. Those introduced me to the person she was.
She had a keen disdain for the prejudice shown toward African Americans and other minorities. She was born and grew up during segregation.
Her desire from her youth was to become a nurse, and she did. She told me of two times in Tennessee when there were “White Only” hospitals, and “Negro” hospitals, which were few and far between. Late one night as she was working, a black man came in and said his wife was about to have their baby, and the black hospital was about 80 miles away. It was a violation of the Jim Crow law’s to take them in. But she found a doctor and they snuck them in and delivered the baby. It could have cost her her job, and probably being banned from nursing, but she would have none of it.
Another time a young black boy had polio and needed an iron lung. There were none available for blacks. Again she made a decision, found a doctor who muttered an expletive about such a system, and at risk of both their jobs, placed the child in a “white” iron lung.
She took those kind of risks for people all her life. We need more like her, and we will miss her. But her example will continue to call out the best in us.