Posts Tagged ‘Theology’

There was a story on BBC Breakfast this morning about the Japanese knotweed that has run amok in the UK and the plan to import a Japanese insect to deal with it.

Then I opened my SU Encounter with God Bible notes to read:

In 1935, the Cane Toad was introduced into Australia to control the native Cane Beetle, a threat to sugar cane production. It wasn’t long before the toad’s destructive impact on the native ecology became apparent. Despite best intentions, sometimes our actions produce unforeseen and unfortunate consequences.

Today’s Bible reading continued the story of Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Esau in Genesis chapters 27 and 28.

It’s best to read the whole story from Genesis, but I was struck by this extract from SU Encounter with God:

Esau becomes vengeful and homicidal, risking a blood feud that had potential to destroy the family line (v45). Rebekah doesn’t seem to have anticipated that as a consequence of her actions. Trying to get things under control, she proposed to Isaac that Jacob is sent away to find a wife among her brother’s family. She believes she can contain the situation; but she can’t. Verse 45 implies that she thought Esau would get over it relatively quickly; when he had settled down she would call Jacob back and they would all be one happy family. But it was not to be: it would be 20 years before Jacob returned to his father’s family. Rebekah died withoput ever seeing her favourite son again. Doubtless she didn’t anticipate that either.

Isaac's family

Isaac's family

Yet God’s amazing plan to work through this dysfunctional family, through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, came to fruition 2,000 years ago when Jesus Christ the Son of God came as a human being to live on earth and change history forever!

I guess the lesson in reading these chapters is not to model myself on this family, but to realise that God can achieve his purposes even through equally dysfunctional people like me.

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Jesus said: “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” John 12:27

In John chapter 11 Jesus brought Lazarus back to life and the Jewish leadership responded by plotting to kill him.  Soon after, Lazarus and his  sisters threw a celebration meal in Jesus’ honour but it turned into a series of clues about what would soon happen to Jesus as Mary poured expensive burial perfume on Jesus’ feet. As a result of crowds flocking to Lazarus’ home to see Jesus, the Jewish leadership added Lazarus to their hit list. Things were getting tense and when Jesus deliberately dropped his policy of lying low away from the city by openly declaring himself as the Messiah in the symbol-heavy event my Bible calls the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, things were really hotting up on the eve of the Passover festival.

I recently read this in SU Encounter with God 16 July 2009:

Many Christians equate the rightness of an action or a decision with how well things went. “It all happened so smoothly – it must have been right.” Just as common is the fear that difficulties indicate that we have made the wrong decision.

Often I hear young people (and older) talking about the success of a short term mission experience in terms of God answering all their prayers so that what they had planned to do, was amazingly successful. Often I cringe! Not that I don’t think prayer is an essential part of our lives as Christians at home and overseas. Nor because I doubt that God answered their prayers. But because, being ultimately responsible for Wycliffe UK’s summer teams, I know that it’s often the tough experiences, or the growth that comes from dealing with disappointment in the best laid plans not working out as expected, that lead to our summer volunteers learning a lot about themselves and especially about God.

Time to get back to Jesus’ words:

“Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”

Jesus was troubled because he knew what he was about to face in the coming week – but he certainly wasn’t thinking that he had got it all wrong! Jesus would bring to completion the process started at the Incarnation when God the Father translated himself from divine into human in the person of God the Son so that human beings would see what God was like.

The key to it all, as often in John, is the glory of the Father, and the way in which Jesus was totally committed to doing whatever was necessary to bring that glory about. He has come all this way, has prepared the ground, has spoken of the Father’s will and of how the world is to be saved; and is he now going to ask for a change of plan? His troubled heart knows that there is danger ahead, but he also knows that it is through that danger, rather than sliding safely past it, that the glory will shine out to the whole world. “Father, glorify your name!”   Tom Wright John for Everyone p33

So next time I make a decision in line with what I believe God wants me to do – and things don’t go as smoothly as I would like – it won’t mean that I made the wrong decision!

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