Word on Wednesday – by John Mason‘The Unexpected…’ – March 25, 2020
‘Expect the unexpected, for it (truth) is hard to discover and hard to attain’, is a good translation of Heraclitus’ (the Greek philosopher) enigmatic words.Over the centuries so many scientific and other areas have advanced through unexpected discoveries – moving unexpectedly from the known to a new realm of knowledge. Isn’t the world today awaiting the unexpected discovery of a solution to the rampant and deadly coronavirus?
Who would have thought at the beginning of a new decade on January 1 this year that we would be experiencing such catastrophic global challenges – a subtle, hidden and deadly pandemic sweeping the planet, bringing cities and nations into lock-down mode?Up until the last fifty years or so, the Western world relied on the effectiveness of governments and with that the belief that God exists and has our best interests at heart.
In the light of today’s unexpected developments Bernard Salt (The Weekend Australian Magazine, March 21-22, 2020) makes some interesting observations. ‘Australians’, he says, ‘are not so much fickle as different. On social media we happily question and mock authority… but it remains to be seen how a generation of dismantling religious faith has prepared Australia for managing genuine adversity’.‘Navigating the current crisis’, he continues, ‘could prompt people to rethink their godlessness. It could create heroes of those who show strength and selflessness, and trigger the downfall of others… … Somehow I think that we will see all of these outcomes in the coming months’.
What if… So, let me ask, what if the generally agreed notion up until the last fifty years, was correct in that there is a God who delights to hear and answer our prayers? And to go back in history, what if the man Jesus is demonstrably the eternal Son of God who took on human form? What if he truly was raised from the dead? Has anyone who has carefully considered these matters disproved once and for all the existence of Jesus and his physical resurrection from the dead?
What if these most unexpected historical events did happen? In the light of Heraclitus’ words should we not pay all the more attention to the four narratives about Jesus – found in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?These unexpected times provide a wonderful opportunity to read for ourselves at least one of the primary documents about Jesus. Many are finding the ‘Word One-to-One’, an annotated version of the Gospel of John very useful – for themselves and as something to walk through with others. In these days when cities are locked down it could be done via ‘WhatsApp’ or similar connecter. Check it out at: https://www.theword121.com/order.
A further what if… And as we trace key elements of Paul’s Letter to the Colossians over these weeks, what if Paul’s words in Colossians 3:3 are true? He writes there: For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.Paul is telling us that from God’s perspective, everyone who lives without him is dead. We may be healthy and wealthy, seemingly enjoying life to the full, but as far as God is concerned we are dead.
We are living in a world that is passing away. But, as we have been seeing over the last two weeks, when we turn to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, God declares us to be his sons and daughters. We now have a vital relationship with God. We will never be alone.For the present others can see our physical bodies, but the reality of our new and eternal life is hidden. Indeed, because those around us cannot see, let alone understand the life we now have, there will be misunderstanding, mockery and even anger at the changes they will see.
But, because our faith is grounded in the God who keeps his promises, as the events of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ reveal, what is now hidden will one day be disclosed. Everyone will see it.For the present our lives are known in the secret counsels of God. He has not only done all that is needed to open the way into this new age with him, but continues to be with us and committed to supply our every need.In these unexpected times, will you join with me in praying to our God whose nature, as The Prayer of Humble Access puts it, is ‘always to have mercy’? It’s important that we pray for one another – especially for wisdom and grace, courage and strength, health and safety. We should also pray for leaders and for health care workers and for a cure to the virus. But, perhaps most of all in these days of the unexpected, pray that God will act with mercy and open the eyes of many, turning their hearts towards their true home in him.
Suggested Reflection – So if you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are in earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God … (Colossians 3:1-3).
A prayer for God’s good news. Lord Christ, eternal Word and Light of the Father’s glory: send your light and your truth so that we may both know and proclaim your word of life, to the glory of God the Father; for you now live and reign, God for all eternity. Amen.