Sunday, May 17, 2009

Symbolic Sunday

Posted by Farrah

I was reading to Kylen from Joshua recently as part of school. When we reached the part where three of the tribes on the other side of the Jordan built their own altar, he thought one lesson that might be taken is that we can worship God wherever we are. Amen! That got me to thinking about some other possible lessons.

The other tribes were worried that this was a sign their brothers were going to begin making their own sacrifices. Not only would that not be good, but it could be disastrous. God had lots of rules about where sacrifices were to be done, how they were to be done, and who would do them. These actions might bring God’s wrath down on everyone. In fact, they were so worried that they were ready to battle in order to stop them.

Thankfully, it turns out the altar was only meant to be a memorial, a reminder that they were all serving the same God. They had no intention of making their own sacrifices. And thankfully, the other tribes took the time to find out what was going on before attacking their brethren. (Little side lesson here: If you see your brother doing something wrong, try talking to him about it before assuming he has sinned and is in need of punishment.)

We are in a similar situation today. There are many Christian churches, and most of them have altars. However, there is only one sacrifice for our sins: Jesus, the Son of God, who sacrificed Himself once for all. There is no other way to heaven. Unfortunately, some churches have chosen to make their own sacrifices. These are often in the form of rules, good works, membership forms, and money. The people are tricked into believing that if they follow the rules of their church they will get into heaven.

It doesn’t work that way. Jesus has already laid down His life to atone for our sins. We simply need to accept the gift and embrace the giver. He wants our undivided love, not our devotion to our church.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

In God's Image

"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Gen. 1:26a).

For several days now, I've been feeling led by the Lord to talk a little about being made in His likeness (or image). It's certainly a topic that has been discussed in great depth, over and over, even recently, on the blogs that I keep up with. I'm not sure what else I can add to the subject, but something this week reminded me of the classic Frog Prince fairy tale (the screenshot above is from the upcoming Disney cartoon, which I cannot yet vouch for). So what does this have to do with the Bible? If you will read on, a connection will soon reveal itself....

My wife teaches a "Just For Fun" class at our homeschool co-op, and this week, she taught a lesson about paper. For kicks, I made some hopping paper frogs, for her to show in class. These things are really fun to make and stage jumping contests with. One of the kids asked for the instructions, so I recorded the video below:

Thinking about the video, I started to dwell on God making man in His image. After all, I made the paper frog after the image of a real frog, did I not? It looks somewhat like a frog and can even jump like one. But it isn't a real frog. It is not alive. It cannot see or hear, much less jump on its own. And it has no chance of ever being anything more than what it is. In fact, since it is made of paper, we know it can only diminish in form and function, until I will have no choice but to toss it into the garbage.

Now, the Frog Prince may look like a frog, but he has the potential to be so much more. Once a man, turned into a frog by a wicked witch (at least I assume so...), he is doomed to a life as a frog, a much lesser creature. But unlike other frogs (especially paper ones), he has hope. If a princess would but kiss him, he would be restored to his former glory... even better actually, since any princess that would dare kiss a warty frog is certain to be the one he is destined to marry!

Man was created in God's image, much like the paper frog was created in a frog's image. We have many things common with God: a free will (Calvinism vs. Arminianism is a topic for another post!), a conscience, the ability to love, reason, wisdom, etc.... In fact, we are the only ones in all of Creation that possess any of these qualities, but we also lack all the omnis that set God in a class all His own. But God's intent was that we would be princes in His kingdom, not mere shadows of the original, doomed to nothing more. However, in order to become princes, we must repent of the sins that have cursed us and become new creations in Jesus Christ. Only a kiss by the Holy One of Israel can transform us. And we know that last state will be far better than the first, because if God can look on our ugly, sinful nature and still love us enough to provide a way out, then He must indeed want us to be with Him forever.

So, surrender your heart to Him, confess your past sins to Him, and let Him kiss and transform you into the prince you were always meant to be! Let go of the old creature, of the sin so characteristic of the warty frog that you were once cursed to be, and live the righteous life of a prince, a true son of God and heir to His throne!