Goodness

    Look at this thing I am holding up in your imagination. It is green. What do you see?

   Now, tell me if I see the same thing.

   We will never know.

   When I see green, I may see something entirely different from what you see.

    Look at this thing I am holding up in your imagination. Not only is it green but it is good.

   What do you see?

   Ok, enough imagination stimulation and now down to the "sermon." Rest your eyes with your mind.

   We will talk today of goodness; good things, good people, good actions, good stuff.

   Jesus Christ does good stuff. Christians believe He is the embodiement of good stuff. All He does is good. He feeds the hungry, heals the sick and generally hangs around with people "good people" do not care about in real life. He is the Ultimate Good Guy.

   What makes Jesus Good?

   Well, Jesus swims against the stream. He acts like no one ever acts before Him, so the writer of the Hebrews letter calls Jesus the "express image of God." The Hebrew writer will later laud Jesus as a Son above the angels (1:5), who is made (as a human) "a little lower than the angels" (2:7), possessor of a forever kind of throne (1:8), made perfect as a Savior by His own obedience unto death (5:7,8).

   So, this Perfected Savior, Obedient Son, Lover of God, Leaver of Heaven, Worthy of Adoration but Scornful of a Throne, is good because He acts like no one else. He swims against the current of human history, wherein Man and Devil try to promote themselves above God, so throwing all of Creation into conflict.

   With God in Christ, the way out of Creation’s Conflict is creative conflict. Jesus goes to war with the system. He will not accept the license of the religous elite, claiming allegiance to the God of Heaven. He eschews the Prelate’s promogeniture, explaining no earthly power commands Him.

   Jesus swims against the current with a power. He is above all, yet deigns to live with all. He is the same in the poorhouse as the royal chamber. Wherever He is, Jesus uses His power of good to do good for good.

   Jesus is good, powerful guy.

   Jesus is a good, purposeful guy. There is a reason for what Jesus does.

   The good Jesus does is religious in nature. He is not a sentimentalist, a social crusader. His good is of a religious nature.

   Religion gets bad press in our Post-Modern Age. This is a religious day but, face it, things ain’t like they used to be.

   I return to the religious nature of the acts of the Christ because that is where He is under attack today, from within and without the Covenant Community.

   In the movie "The DaVinci Code" Tom Hanks’s character, speaking as though in a documentary, flatly monotone, "Jesus was a good man and an instrumental teacher. That is all the empirical evidence proves."

   Christopher Hitchens in his book "God is Not Great," decries any attempt to make Jesus divine. Religion is superstition for Mr. Hitchens and Jesus probably did not even exist, he writes.

   I could continue.

   These are a couple of examples of the attack on the religious purpose of Jesus from outside the Covenant Community. The attack on the religious nature of the Christ from within the Covenant Community are no less frequent and more troubling.

   Understand, Christianity is not a way of life. The Lordship of Christ generation is right to insist on the practice of Christian living as a sign of salvation but they go too far when they insist it is on the primary sign of Christ’s Lordship over us.

   Christ Himself and the organizers of the Early Church stress Holy Spirit empowerment, remorse for sin leading to repentance and anticipation of the parousia as primary signs of salvation and all of those acts are spiritual, so religious.

   Power for witness is the theme of Acts 1:8, some of the last words spoken by our Lord to any earthly gathering. He precedes this command with His great commitment of Matthew 28:20 to be ever and always with the baptizing witnesses who make disciples.

   Remorse resultant in repentance is the theme of Acts 2:38,39, and this action is purely spiritual, so religious in character and then in form.

   The parousia or return of Jesus Christ to the earth is the theme of I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and is linked inextricably to "comfort," itself entertwined with "edification," (5:11). Both are the result of personal, conscious trust placed in the Living Christ, intent on His Return, a religious act if there ever will be one.

   Remember my opening question, "Do you see green the way I see it?"

   Now, do you see good the way I see it?

   I see generations of persons flopping around trying to be good without God. Oprah and Dr. Phil are the result.

   God is good. Man aspires to goodness. For Man to be good, Man needs God.

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