Aloha Friday Message – June 26, 2020 – On the receiving end

2026AFC062620 – On the receiving end

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    Matthew 10:40 40 Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.

Romans 6:9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

May Peace always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd! Today we will look a two excerpts from Sunday’s readings and a whole boatload of other Scripture. We will explore what it means to welcome Jesus, and also look at what many unbelievers will welcome during these perilous days. Let’s get right to it!

Romans 1:17-25 (emphasis added) – 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” (Please see Habakkuk 2:4)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature [Creation] rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

And here is an excerpt from a link in last week’s post (Matthew 10:26-33). If you did not use the link (I hope you did), you did not see this. It bears repeating. It’s from just a few verses up the page from today’s Key Verse ~~ Matthew 10:32-33 32 “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.”

One of the most difficult parts of living a Christian life is defending the exclusivity inherent in its fundamental basis for Salvation. In John 6:44, for example, we read 44 “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day.” And again in John 14:6-7 we read, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” We believe, therefore, that God has created in us a type of natural, irresistible affinity for him because we are created in his image and likeness. It is natural for us to know God, to see what God has done, and to seek unity with his Perfect Integrity of Oneness. We are aware of his presence even though he is invisible because we see the effect of his presence in his Creation and in living within that Creation because we, too, are an observable part and product of Creation. We know and understand that we did not create ourselves, and most rational people will believe that Creation – including all living and nonliving things – is real, tangible, and observable. We are conscious of “being,” aware of our own existence and of the existence of the rest of Creation. Our “personhood” is an observable fact (although there are some loonies out there who debate that). In this way we are able to conclude that there is a Creation, and therefore there is a Creator. If instead we are determined to claim there is no objective evidence of Creator or Creation, we deny God’s existence. Now, remember that when we say “God,” we mean all of God – the Holy Trinity. If we do not “credit” God with the acts of Creation, Salvation, and Animation then we deny him and everything he is and does. That is where Jesus’ statement comes into play: whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

Because one can see what God does, one can know that God is, and we also have Scripture to tell us what he has done, what he is doing, and what he will do. God is the Source of the act of creation, and Creation is the Object of that act – the Source and the Object are separate. What is it we call that Object? One might call it by many names – the Heavens, outer space, The Great Void, and – quite popular these days – “The Universe.” For some who use that taxonomy, there is often a tendency to give it its own animation, to attribute powers, sentience, will, and identity by self-awareness. One might believe this because, after all, we are part of the universe, and we have powers, sentience, will, and identity by self-awareness. For example, one has the “power of creativity.” Suppose a college student named Mary uses her computer’s word processor as she composes a research paper for her Philosophy class. Did she “create” that body of work? Did the computer “create” that body of work? Did the Universe “create” that body of work? No, none of that can be true. Mary used billions of recycled electrons by accessing the programming in her computer, and the computer facilitates her activities, but the computer does not – and certainly ­cannot­ – create Mary’s document. Additionally, her document is based on research that is the result of scores, or even thousands, of other collectors of knowledge. We talk of creativity in the arts, and even in science (perhaps even politics), but CREATION is the process of making something from nothing. One can make or construct material objects, and even ideas which receive no material characteristics, but all of those are not CREATION. One should be able to conclude, therefore, that all of these things presented are ongoing Objects of one, singular act of Creation.

All of us are familiar with the argument that the likelihood of the universe coming together in such remarkable order and continuity is comparable to expecting the Oxford English Dictionary to come together as the result of an explosion in a printing shop (or of being written by a billion chimpanzees typing on billions more typewriters, hopping from one to another after completion of each word). As ludicrous as that might sound, one still hears people saying things like, “The Universe will punish your for that,” or “The Universe gave me an incredible gift today,” or “I’m counting on the Universe to get me that job” or, most grievous, “I have faith in the Universe because it’s never let me down.” How very tragic that one can accept such balderdash when there is so much evidence to the contrary! Worse still, it is appalling that these statements flatly and utterly reject God, his Creation, and the Object of his Creation because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen because whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

Our own existence shows us what the Apostle Paul meant here: Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. The Psalmist also concludes in Psalm 33:6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth. Recall as well that we read in the opening verses of the Gospel of John that All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. (See John 1:3) That includes the universe and all the objects in it – you and me for example. There is an even greater consequence for deifying the universe; it has no power of resurrection. Only God has that power, remember? We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. Christ, who is God, is Resurrected. We sometimes think of persons “raised from the dead” as being resurrected, but that is as false a notion as believing the universe can have its own volition. Lazarus, for example, was resuscitated – he experienced the reanimation of his natural, physical, mortal body. Jesus is RESURRECTED.

     This is why he said in John 11:25-26 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” If one believes “The Universe” created us, cares for and about us, and provides us with the good things we desire, WE DENY GOD’S CREATION, REJECT Christ, and endanger our salvation which is the source of hope in our resurrection. We must instead WELCOME Christ, as God intends. Never forget, Belovéd, that everyone, every living soul past and present and future, will experience the Resurrection to Eternal recompense. Those who are called by the Father and go to him through the Son are destined for Eternal Life and Endless Joy in the presence of God. Those who are called by the Father and reject that call by rejecting the Son and counting instead on an Object named “The Universe,” an idol of their own making, are destined for Eternal Death and Endless Sorrow in the absence of God. When Jesus spoke of his identity as “The Resurrection,” the Greek word we have in Scripture is ἀνάστασις (← Check it out!) (anastasis) { an-as’-tas-is} a standing up, a resurrection, a raising up, rising up alive and transformed – it refers to the physical, bodily resurrection of Christ – and people (both of the redeemed and the unredeemed).

Just as Mary’s paper is not contingent on the volition of her computer, the course and outcome of our lives is not contingent on the volition of “The Universe.” (OR the stars for that matter.) Where did Mary’s thoughts originate, and what things were caused or effected by them? Her thoughts had an object – her paper – and all thinking, the making of connections between things we know to be sensible, has to be in relation to another object, that is, they have aspects of existence involving thoughts such as beliefs or desires about different kinds of objects, including those that have no actual existence. Only animate objects think – earthlings and many forms of animal life. Vegetable, mineral, and “outer space” or “the Heavens” or “The Universe” do not think or act and have no volitional characteristics. They have only existence which one accepts as true because one chooses to do so. It is through that choice that we receive what God gave us as opportunities of good works he prepared for us to complete before he created us. In James 3:13, the Apostle James reminds us 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. Is it only believers then who are good and gentle and wise? No Belovéd, all of us know persons whose generosity and kindness are irreproachable even if they put their faith in the universe instead of God. We know that 17 Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (See James 1:13-17). We are always on the receiving end of what God has created in and for us. “The Universe” exists as an object from or to which other objects can be taken – or sent – by or through choices it does not make on its own. The best one can say about the universe is For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” Faith in “The Universe” is not righteousness because it is not faith in our Creator but rather faith in his Creation. One thereby rejects God’s perfect integrity, endless mercy, and eternal salvation through Christ our Lord. Death still holds dominion over those whose faith is based on something that is not Eternal. Therefore, “Choose life so that you and your descendants may live” with God forever. (See Deuteronomy 30:19) We must make wise choices that do not exclude God’s gifts to us and as the Apostle James says in James 1:5-8 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; 7, 8 for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —
at your service, Belovéd

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Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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