Saturday, 8 August 2015

Up to Us; Up to Them

Saturday morning and I'm in a writing mood. It is my turn to give the devotional message on our Monday morning Alpha Canada conference call, and I've been thinking of Isaiah 65:1-2:
 
I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’ All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—

God longs for every one of us, all His people, to come to Him. He so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, not just for certain preselected people. He offers everyone, throughout all time and over all the earth, the opportunity to know Him. There are various ways in which He has done this.

He has made himself known through His Creation:
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. (Psalm 19: 1-4)
 …since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)
He has made Himself known through the human conscience; 
…Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts… (Romans 2:14b-15a)

And He makes Himself known through us, and what we do – the messages we communicate. So we have a crucially important place in His plan to reach the whole world.

It is our responsibility to communicate the message. It is not our responsibility how people receive it. Some will, some won’t. Just like the time in the desert when the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived. (from Numbers 21)

I believe it is obvious that this snake was available for all to see, but the Bible uses the term, “looked at,” indicating a wilful action. People had not just to see it, they had to “look” at it; focus their attention on it. This is a picture of faith. “Looking at” the snake is analogous to actually putting faith in something. In that case it was faith that God would be true to His word; that if they turned toward that bronze snake they would be healed, as God had said they would. It was a matter of trusting in God, even if it seemed to be against all human reason.

And it`s the same today. The idea of God coming to earth in human form, offering Himself to die in our place as a sacrifice for our sins, may make no sense at all from a perspective of rational human thought, but it is what He did and He asks us to trust Him; that that is what is necessary for us to be able to spend eternity with Him.

But not all will believe. Go back to the Isaiah passage. Verse 12 says: 
…for I called but you did not answer, I spoke but you did not listen.
Even God realizes that not all will believe the message, and he speaks of the fate that awaits those who reject it. Those who reject His offer of eternal life with Him through Jesus Christ will perish. He will grant their wish and allow them to spend eternity apart from Him.

It`s our job to proclaim the message; to make the good news known. It`s up to the hearer what to do with it.

Take Care

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