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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Paul's Greeting (part 5): "From God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ"

(part 4)

When the Apostle Paul was inspired to conclude his greeting to the Corinthian church, we find that greetings are extended “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

GOD OUR FATHER

What comes to your mind when you think of God as Father? Homer (the ancient Greek philosopher, not the cartoon character) reflected how his culture thought that mankind was the “paignion theon” (plaything of the gods). Ideas like this show the huge difference between our personal idea of God (who we eventually find is no greater than ourselves, and we get disgruntled with that image and blame him) and what God revealed about Himself by revelation. We are designed to receive greater ideas than we can imagine.

One can’t help but wonder: if we live in a world of fate, how can we know peace? If God does not care, how can there be peace? A god who has not revealed Himself cannot be our “Father.” Just think of all a Father can do: He is a Lover; the family founder; the marriage-arranger; the Honor-protector; the compensation-collector; the discipline-giver; an educator; a provider; the blesser; the hope-giver. Peace is found in our Father’s house, who is in heaven.

Describing God as Father reminds everyone what it means to be a disciple. When Jesus taught the disciples to pray, He began with the way to address God: “our Father,” not “almighty infinite power” or “unknowable mystery” or “inaccessible light.” When we address Him as He has revealed as “Our Father” then He assures us, His children, that He loves us and cares for us. Sure, He cares for birds, feeding them daily. He cares for flowers, clothing them-but how much more He cares for us! We are not neglected, but are given a way to relate to Him in a way all creation cannot!

God as Father reminds us that He is always accessible. We are not kept waiting outside the door wondering if it is ok to come in, but have full access to His presence. He is never too busy running the Universe to have time for us! He is an accepting Father--we don’t accept Him--He accepts Us!

THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Isn't that comforting? And why not? Paul’s greeting concludes from “the Lord Jesus Christ.” Do you realize that comfort has a name? Iranian Christian Mehdi Dibaj wrote: “These days there are celebrations everywhere. People outside celebrate the day of the Revolution and you, my son, are celebrating your birthday today (7 years old). Inside my prison cell I am celebrating my forty-third year of becoming a Christian and today I am celebrating the entering of the eighth year of the test of my faith in Jesus Christ our Lord. There is a celebration and joy within my heart. I thank my loving God ever so much that He counted me worthy to be here in prison for more than seven years now because of my love and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my Christian brothers and sisters who have supported me with their prayers and love, so that the victory should belong to the Lord. Victory is yours, risen Jesus, Son of the Creator, our Redeemer.” Mehdi was released from prison then murdered 6 months later. He died in comfort.

If all Paul meant by these opening words was merely “hello,” then Mehdi’s hope was in small talk and has nothing to do with the Fatherhood of God or the grace and comfort of Christ.

The beginning of Paul’s defense begins here, with words of the founder of The Church, Our Great Shepherd, who makes us lie down in green pastures, leads beside still waters--The Prince of Peace.

Grace and peace from our King, defeater of enemies;
Grace and peace from our Savior, defeater of sin;
Grace and peace from our Security, defeater of uncertainty.

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