If only more students were committed to intellectual integrity and engaging with their studies - and if only more lectures were this eventful and interesting!
WARNING: there is mildly offensive language in the video. Don't watch it if you think you'll be offended. :o)
I've been a bad blogger - sorry. Normal service resumed NOW!
I woke up at 4am this morning and I woke up terrified. I don't think I'd had a bad dream, there is nothing particularly troubling in my life (except I'm soon to enter my 'late 30's') and nothing untoward was happening in the vicinity of our house. I just woke up utterly afraid.
I lay in bed for another hour, trying to sleep: sleep did not eventuate and I moved from fear to anger. "WHY!?!? Why can't I sleep...." Then I moved from frustration to thoughtfulness and resignation. 'Get up, DO something useful'
I got up, sneaked out of the bedroom (didn't want to wake my sleeping wife) and started making brioche for breakfast as well as doing some serious thinking. As the dough rose I sat and read Mark 8.22-30 (BTW I completely missed the opportunity to make a cheesy link by not reading 8.14-21) at the early hour and in the presence of a glorious sunrise I was confronted by two things.
It is nearly 20 years since I slipped almost unknowingly (at first) from religion to relationship with God through Jesus and I need the intervention of divine power to open my eyes to the reality of who He is as much today as I did then. I know a whole lot more now, in many ways I am older, wiser and fatter than that mixed up crazy teenager who didn't really know one end of the gospel from the other but just knew he needed forgiveness and that only came through Jesus' death on the cross. I can express it better, and even teach others to articulate and comprehend that which God has done in Christ Jesus as revealed in the Bible. But it is not of my own doing, not even now; not ever. I am, we all are, very much like that man whose sight goes from non-existant to partial and imperfect to real clarity: but it is by the gift of God.
In the early hours of this morning I saw it very well - again by the gift of God - to see Him, to know Him, to serve Him and live for Him is all according to the wonder of His great power at work within us (Eph 1.18-23). It is not to be taken for granted, it is to be celebrated and enjoyed in every day.
The second thing that struck me was Jesus' question to the disciples: "Who do you say I am?" I've spoken on this more times than I can count. I've used this passage in conversation with non-believers - asking them to see that the answer to this question is THE answer which defines how every other question in life is framed, understood and answered. But as the sun hit the heavy dew on the field outside the house and the morning mist rose and evaporated. I felt that question acutely myself. Twenty years on, who do I say Jesus is? After 15 months here in NZ who do I say Jesus is? Just who is He to me?
My life didn't quite 'flash before my eyes' but it was certainly a moment of sober reflection. I know the right answers; I can assert the deity of the incarnate Son in whom God was reconciling the world to Himself, I get the dynamic power of the imagery of Logos; feel the scandal of the assertion of Jesus being fully God and fully man. But Jesus wasn't asking them to engage in a disengaged discussion of theological categories, he wasn't looking for comprehension - he was looking for response and revelation.
Peter speaks up "You are the Christ" - submission, objective truth, personal response, obedience, hope, joy and fear all meet in those few words. I felt the call to that same set of responses in a renewed way. Twenty years on who Jesus is hasn't changed (obviously!) but I have.
Being a Christian (responding to the reality of God's revelation in Jesus in the obedience of faith) is not a 'once upon a time' story, it is a here and now reality.
Last Sunday I preached at church - looking back and looking forward at the turning of the year. Jesus, the gospel, eternal truth, do not change - times, places, cultures and people may change and 'move on' but the question remains: Who do you say Jesus is?
It's a question I pray I will answer with greater clarity and integrity with the passing of the days and years and one I will have the opportunity to help many more answer for themselves for as long as God provides me the time to serve Him.
It was worth losing a bit of sleep to gain the time and the fresh insight.