Remembering the Lord’s Life
Posted: 31 Jan 2014 04:00 AM PST
Coleman offers a critique for organized followers of the New Church to consider. Perhaps we under-emphasize a key part of the gospel. We may be much better equipped to “take up the cross and follow” if we reflect more often on the Lord’s work as He took up that cross and led. -Editor.
Go into any Baptist church this Sunday and I can virtually guarantee that you’ll hear about what the Lord did for you 2,000 years ago. In the New Church, we tend to focus much more on what the Lord does for us now. But I think we might be missing out. Because for whatever faults there might be in that Baptist church’s theology, there is one fundamental truth that will be taught there that has immense power: the Lord Jesus Christ loved the world enough – loved you and me enough – that He willingly laid down His life to make our salvation possible.
And how much more powerful is that truth within the context of the truths revealed in the Heavenly Doctrine: that that Jesus is the only God, that there is no angry Father behind Him, but that He and the Father are totally and completely one, that He wants nothing more than to forgive us – and that the problem that separates us from Him is not His unwillingness to look on us, but that we have turned our backs on Him. Listen: the universal faith of the New Church is that “the Lord from eternity, who is Jehovah, came into the world to subjugate the hells and to glorify His humanity; and that without this no mortal could have been saved, and those are saved who believe in Him” (True Christian Religion 2). The universal faith is almost entirely about what the Lord did for the human race 2,000 years ago – and because of that, what He can do for us now.
So let’s dedicate ourselves to spending more time in reflection on the Lord’s life. I speak to myself first and foremost. All religion is of life, and it is easier to see the practical application of truths that have to do with what I should do now and what the Lord is doing now. But the angels of heaven love to reflect and talk about the Lord’s glorification – the process by which He united His humanity with His divinity (see Arcana Coelestia 4259). They speak too about His kingdom, about the regeneration of man – but they do not lose sight of the fact that this event was the essential thing, and that our regeneration is only an imperfect reflection of it. We need that acknowledgment. We need the Lord’s life for our lives.
This perspective opens up the Word. Try reading the Psalms, and instead of putting yourself in the place of the psalmist, put the Lord there. Think of His struggle, His temptations – and His faith that because He fought from the infinite Divine Love that He called “Father” He could not fail:
“My power is dried up as a potsherd; and my tongue sticks to my jaws; and Thou hast set me on the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded me; the congregation of evildoers have encircled me; they pierced my hands and my feet…. But Thou, be not far, O Jehovah; O Thou my power, hurry to my help.” (Psalm 22:15,16, 19)
Those words are powerful when we think of them as applying to our own lives – but how much more powerful to know that the Lord Himself experienced those things, and overcame.
Think of what the Lord did: he underwent the worst temptations, worse spiritual pain than we can imagine. He conquered every time. And He did all of that, not at all for His own sake, but for you and me.
“In all His combats of temptations the Lord never fought from the love of self, or for Himself, but for all in the universe, consequently, not that He might become the greatest in heaven, for this is contrary to the Divine Love, and scarcely even that He might be the least; but only that all others might become something, and be saved.” (Arcana Coelestia 1812).
Think of the Lord’s life – that life of constant battle, but also that life of constant victory. Every minute, every second, battling back hell and putting it in its place, saying, “No!” to evil so strongly that even at the end, death had no power over Him. And then ask yourself – do you really think that if He was able to defeat death itself, to conquer every corner of hell, that He is not able to save you from your evil? If He was willing to say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” as He was being nailed to the cross – how could He not give you the power to forgive the guy who just cut you off in traffic? When we are fighting against evils, praying to Him for help, let’s pray specifically with a remembrance of how He lived, so that we can walk in His footsteps – that we carry our cross as He carried His, with the knowledge that in reality, it is He who is carrying ours, too.
Every day, we can take up our cross again, dying to selfishness, with the joy of knowing that the Lord will raise us up into life, because He has become life itself. Think of His life, think of His battle, think of His victory, and worship Him – who Has taken up all power and reigned. How great is the Lord! He has done great things for us, and we shall be glad.
Rev. Coleman Glenn is the pastor of the Dawson Creek Church of the New Jerusalem in Dawson Creek, BC, where he lives with his wife Anne Grace and their two-month-old son, Samuel. He maintains a blog (when he manages to find time for it) at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/goodandtruth.