Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Redeemaphobia? Redeemerphobia!


24 January 2007

Redeemaphobia? Redeemerphobia!

There are a lot of big, eye-catching billboards around Sydney at the moment graced by the word REDEEMAPHOBIA. The billboard goes on to say .n. ‘a fear of an inability to redeem frequent flyer points’.

Well that’s a new one on me. Of the making of fears there is no end!

Understandably that word caught my attention. Redeemaphobia? That’s pretty close to Redeemerphobia, which is a fear you could legitimately add to the collection.

REDEEMERPHOBIA. n. ‘a fear arising in the heart when God seems to be too close and personal’ Truth is, there are people who have a phobia, or fear, about the Redeemer and of all talk of needing a Redeemer.

I understand there are people who know in their heart of hearts that there is a God – but the knowledge does not bring comfort. Rather it creates uneasiness, insecurity and uncertainty, often underpinned by personal guilt.

Others have been hurt by someone offering themselves as a redeemer, and have resolved not to let themselves be hurt again.

All of this, and other things, help create a group of people who get agitated at the mere mention of a Redeemer, or of the need for a Redeemer. It’s as though some button is pushed, some nerve is touched, which has people lashing out, almost bitterly, with resentment, that we would even think they needed a Redeemer. In this case the fear is overlaid by anger.

The over-the-top reactions by so many people reveals some discord in their inner heart. We rarely know what sits behind these responses but this phobia about the Redeemer is real. Mention God and people clam up. Mention Jesus Christ and people actually run away. Often others are happy for you and I to be ‘religious’, but since they’re ‘not religious’ would you please leave us alone.

It’s all rather sad really. When I sit down with someone in trouble there is never a problem about admitting that what most lives lack is an integrating centre. It’s not there! And person after person feels as though (experiences life as though), they are coming apart on the inside. Heaven knows, we need whatever it is that can bring a true, lasting and healthy harmony to our lives. And since the power to do that is not in us, well, we need a redeemer.

The claim of the scripture is that this deepest and truest need of all human beings is met, can be met, can only be met, by Jesus the Christ. Give yourself permission to read Eugene Peterson’s extraordinary translation of something the Apostle Paul wrote about 1950 years ago.

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God's original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

He was supreme in the beginning and – leading the resurrection parade – he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe – people and things, animals and atoms – get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross. You yourselves are a case study of what he does…
(Colossians 1: 15-17)

Jesus Christ is our Redeemer. Is the Redeemer for all! Is the one who holds all things together!


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hanging on by the skin of my teeth!

17 January 2007

Hanging on by the skin of my teeth!

Hi Guys, Fred here. First time in 2007. Hope you are all well.

I have no idea where the phrase “by the skin of my teeth” comes from. Maybe one of you can tell me. I do know what the phrase means. It means that we are barely surviving. One more trauma, storm, setback, could knock us over. The phrase is used by farmers hoping to see out a draught. Or by businessmen wanting to survive an economic downturn. Or by families under pressure who wonder about the future. Or by Pastors who realise they mightn’t have the inner resources to keep going. Or… Or… write your own scenario!

I’ve recently discovered for myself what it’s like to “hit the wall”. It’s all been a bit of a surprise at a conscious level. However, somewhere deep inside I knew it was coming and, believe it or not, I welcome it.

You see, normally when we consider “one more storm” we think in terms of things moving to a position of hopelessness. However if you and I can approach our struggle from the point of view of faith then our position can never be hopeless.

Sure, the feelings are all there. Frustration, pain, maybe rage, often fear, certainly grief – all with a sense of desperation – or not understanding. However, if Jesus is Lord then he knows about this battle and, indeed, experiences it with us. I might feel as though I’m gone – but in him I am never gone. It might seem as though I hang over the abyss, with no help at hand – but as David found, ‘underneath are the everlasting arms’.

There’s a lesson to be learnt here. When things go well – when you’re cruising – and life is good, its easy to have faith, to believe that God is for you. It’s another thing to trust, and keep on trusting, when it seems all reason for trust has evaporated. Such faith is a gift. That gift must be put to work in a crisis. And that’s my / your choice – to keep on trusting, regardless of circumstances. That’s also how you build your spiritual heart muscles.

I’m reminded of something William Willimon said:

“There’s nothing the devil hates more than a person who continues to trust, when circumstances dictate that trust should cease. That person is beyond Satan’s reach!”

Hey now. Look at Good Friday!

Have a blessed week.