REFLECTIONS & ENCOURAGEMENTS: understanding and growing through the covid-19 challenge.
Bishop Peter Brain Reflection 4: Things ain’t what they seem folks!
Many years ago someone helped me to get the gist of the Book of Revelation by mentioning these two one liners: Things ain’t what they seem and when you’re on a good thing stick to it!
The two great days that changed the world: Good Friday and Easter Day, the gracious self-substitution of God the Son in our place of judgement on Calvary’s Cross and His glorious bodily resurrection on the third day, assure us that things ain’t what they seem. In Revelation we see that the Lamb who was slain is indeed the glorious Lord of glory: the humble and gracious Redeemer, who so willingly sheds His blood is in reality the risen, reigning, ruling, and returning Lord and King (1:4-8,12-17;5:6-14). There is indeed ‘a resurrection shaped hole in earth’s great graveyard’ (AM Hunter).
And Easter assures us that this is so. It seemed hopeless, even to His disciples and friends after that harrowing Friday but it all turned around, on that Sunday morning, as the inescapable conclusion slowly dawned on them that He was fully alive. It seemed a disaster but it was triumph. Our Saviour’s cry from the Cross “it is finished” was answered by God His Father with the resounding Amen of the resurrection. The debt that only He could pay was completed so that we might find pardon through repentance and faith and enjoy ready, regular access to the throne of grace through Him as our great and sympathetic High Priest (Romans 3:21-27, 5:1-5; 8:1-4;Hebrews 4:14-16;10:19-25).
Our persecuted brothers and sisters seem to have taken this truth to heart and far from deserting their Lord and Saviour when the pressure is on, simply go deeper into His promises. As a Korean Christian remarked “we are like nails, the more they persecute us the deeper we go into our Saviour’. But this is a much harder lesson for those of us who are so easily cooled by pleasures and possessions. At this point we are wise to see the pandemic as an opportunity to go deeper into the promises of Scripture and find refuge in our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
C S Lewis’s well known words are worth pondering as reminders of this opportunity: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts at us in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”. Our prosperity, the fruits of which we are seeing in government assistance and medical research and first rate healthcare, seem to have driven us to trust our own wisdom and resourcefulness rather than live with a humble and loving gratitude to Him. But here is a generous opportunity to recognise our individual and collective helplessness and trust Him (and use our wealth and abundant resources to help us and others). The poem puts it another way: “I walked a mile with pleasure/ She chattered all the way/ But left me none the wiser/ For all she had to say./ I walked a mile with sorrow;/ And ne’er a word said she;/ But O, the things I learned from her/ When sorrow walked with me”
The Easter events were neither purposeless nor arbitrary. Both were part of God’s plan to bring many sons and daughters to glory (Hebrews 2:1-18). The resurrection vindicates all of Jesus words and works so we confidently trust Him. We may not know the timetable of either our or the world’s future but we know that at all times we can trust the nail pierced hands of our Saviour since he is the, who continues to sustain both the universe (Colossians 1:15-20) and each of His brothers and sisters, who have made Him their refuge in each and every circumstance of life. John 10:18 seen at Easter to be true, invites us to prove His faithfulness afresh as expressed in 10:25-30 and Revelation 3:20.
Wonderfully it ain’t what it seems. It is far grander and full of purpose than we could ever imagine. So we stick to the One who has beaten death at its own game. To the One whose promises are all trustworthy and good (2 Cor 4:16-18; 1 Cor 15:58; 2 Tim 4:6-8; Revelation 21:5 and 22:8-17).
Peter Brain 8th April, 2020