This post was originally published December 22, 2017 on Christ Chapel Bible Church -Ology Blog.
Scripture: 1 Peter 3:15
“… but in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.”1 Peter 3:15
“Christ” (Christos) in Greek means “the anointed one” or “chosen one.” In Hebrew it is translated “Messiah” (Mashiach). In addition, “Christ” is not a name, but a title. “Jesus Christ” renders Jesus the chosen one/anointed one.
1 Peter 3:15 is not typically considered a Christmas verse per se. We find it in the context of suffering for Christ and leading up to Peter’s apologetic (apologia) for our faith in Jesus Christ. However, I think we can view this short passage through the lens of preparation for the incarnation of our Savior-King and Lord.
A few nights ago my daughter (6 years old) was frightened and could not fall asleep. She was scared and I know what that feels like. So, I joined her in her fear to validate her feelings and try to help her find a way out. I started talking about Jesus and His protection in times when I’ve been scared.
The conversation went something like this:
Me: Did you know that the Bible calls Jesus “the Lion of Judah”?
Me: He is. Jesus is like a mighty lion. Nobody messes with a lion, right?
Me: We are His children and He protects us like a lion. Did you know that Jesus has other nicknames?
Lilly: Yes, mommy plays a song called “The Lion And The Lamb.” What are His other nicknames?
Me: Yes, Jesus is also the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!”
Suddenly, fear left the room, the tears subsided and she began to relax and even smile a little.
We began to softly sing together the “King of kings, Lord of lords” portion of the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s “Messiah.” It wasn’t pretty. However, I think I could hear the faint toe tap from the throne room of heaven. Lilly peacefully wandered off to sleep under the blanket of God’s protection with a mighty chorus echoing in her heart. My heart was full. We had set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts and fear fled the invading forces of peace.
The ancient prophet Isaiah said “A light has dawned…” (Isa. 9:2), I’m convinced he was seeing the incarnation, the coming Lord. “A child is born… a son is given”. Above all, we needed more than a child, we needed the Son. Only one son would do — a Savior. The Christ! From the annals of time, we hear the chorus, “King of kings, Lord of lords” like peals of thunder rolling through history.
In all matters of life, we should set apart Jesus Christ as Lord.
Our heart is our essence as moral creatures, as image-bearers and the seat of our will. It begins in our hearts. But, what does that look like at Christmastime?
When we set apart Christ in our hearts as Lord we are acknowledging His majesty and holiness. We are bending our knee and heart toward Him as a flower bends toward the sun. We are yielded to His lordship, His splendor and captivated by His power, beauty and love.
Christmas celebrated rightly with Christ set apart as Lord in our hearts should be a mighty procession that occurs every year. We wait and watch for its arrival. When Christmas arrives, we celebrate like no one else on earth. The rest of the world is in darkness, yet the light has in fact dawned. It is the perfect time to share the gospel of peace and invite others to come out of the darkness and join in the chorus acknowledging “Christ is the King of kings, Lord of lords!”
“Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere …” 2 Cor. 2:14
The procession has arrived. Have you set apart Christ as Lord in your heart? Have you made room for the Christ?
Finally, in Revelation 22, Jesus Christ says repeatedly, “I am coming soon.” He says, “Surely, I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:20). He did come, He is here and He will come again! Christmas is a time to reflect, a time to wonder and celebrate the magnificent Savior.
Read previous post: “It’s always an inside job“
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I am the quiet voice of the homeless living in the camps within your cities.
I am the one you see on the sidewalk as you walk to work or take your kids to school. You are afraid to make eye contact with me because you think all I want is your money. So, you turn your gaze away. In doing so, your heart turns cold.
I see your cars with political stickers. I hear your conversations outside the coffee shop. You complain about this country. You rage against politicians. You rage and gossip and tear each other apart with words as sharp as knives. Yet, you look on me with disdain. Is my life not worthy of mention?
From the street, I see angry people raging against each other and setting the city ablaze.
Throngs of angry youth push past me and trample on my only possessions screaming about unfairness and equality. Am I not equal?
You don’t really care about people like me. Sure, you say you want to ‘end’ homelessness and other ‘social ills’… But, all you do is talk. You never actually sit with me and ask what its like to experience homelessness. No, you’d rather people like me be gathered up and removed from your sight. You’d rather I not exist! Do you disagree? Then, why do you act like I don’t exist?
Wisdom’s voice calls from the streets! I may be without a home but I am no fool. After your raging and rioting, you have homes to return to. You have families and friends to share life with.
Rage at what? What does your rage accomplish? How does your rage help people like me? My home is the streets and you have the audacity to leave your comfy dorms, houses and apartments to spill into my home on the streets and cause destruction? How dare you!
Do I storm your campus or property to rage against something I don’t agree with? No, I eat what you throw away and accept the turning of your gaze away. You can’t even look me in the eye. Am I not human? Am I not worth a smile and a kindly nod?
Perhaps you could repurpose your rage to take a step toward me? You have nothing to be afraid of. I was once a child who loved playing, just like you. I love ice cream and a beautiful sunset just like you. I have hopes and dreams just like you. Repurpose your rage and greet me in the streets with a kindly light. You will always have me among you.
I’m not looking for a handout, I’m looking for someone who cares more for me than a cause.
Author’s Note: This essay is a simple plea to my countrymen to pause for a moment and consider taking the energy expended against political opponents and applying that same energy to serving those experiencing homelessness. Please consider finding a local organization in your city to serve those experiencing homelessness. It will change you and improve our communities.
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“The tide—so faithful and so sure—offers every man, sooner or later, the chance of escaping from the tiny cove of the Here to the broad bosom of the Everywhere, from the little bay of Self, to the infinite sea of Service; and they are life’s most enviable voyagers who, when the sublime opportunity presents itself, are all alive and all alert, waiting, with oars in rollocks, to make the most of it. It is the hour of destiny. The kingdom of heaven pours its wealth into the heart of the man, who is ready when that hour strikes. He was waiting: but only waiting for the tide!”
-F.W. Boreham, ‘Waiting for the Tide’, The Nest of Spears (London: The Epworth Press, 1927), 48-57.
There are tides in life as there are in the sea. We need only to wait for them. One cannot rush the ocean’s tides, neither can rush the tides of life. I cannot face a beautiful sunrise, look at my watch and command the sun to hurry up. The sun doesn’t respond to such a foolish thing.
In all manner of life, there come opportunities. Whether in love, life or death; life has all manner of tides. When the tide comes in, there is abundant opportunity. However, in order to make the most of it, we must take our eyes off ourselves and place them on others. The farmer enjoys the harvest by waiting for the season to arrive as the fisherman waits for the tide.
True wealth is not found in the “little bay of Self”. The real treasure of life is discovered and enjoyed in the “infinite sea of Service.” Making the most of life is about being ready and waiting for the tide. We must be ready when the tide comes by taking our eyes off of ourselves and looking toward others. In serving, we find infinite possibilities to express love and kindness. Jesus said he came to serve. He opened the door and we can follow his lead into a universe of overwhelming need knowing we cannot meet the insurmountable need alone. Go to where there is need and serve. There is a voyage ahead for anyone willing. Are you ready?
This Empire will fall. All do and will. It’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’. There is a beauty of a falling empire.
So, what are you afraid of? A beheading or losing 70% of your savings in a fortnight? I venture the former is less stressful than the latter. Your days are numbered. The holocaust has peaked. You murdered your future.
There is a point of no return and your ship called ‘Folly’ has passed it. You are adrift.
I am encouraged by your predicament because people are going to finally realize what matters in life as first world comforts are stripped away like a winter wind removes the last leaves of autumn. The entitlements vanish and we face the reality of life together.
Arm chair atheists and classroom relativists will find themselves searching for ultimate truth and meaning in reality as the prosperity preachers abandon their pulpits destined for the threshing floor. The free ride is over and as you exit the train, you’ll find out what you owe. Your wealth, power and status were illusions. You are beyond bankrupt. Control is an illusion.
The bar is closed, your dealer won’t answer your call and there are no vacancies in any hotel in town. The jester at the club gave you directions to a bogus after-party. The streets are empty. As the snow falls and chill sets in, you arrive at the destination of everything you thought was important to find it meaningless. Everything you thought was meaningless is held in honor.
The homeless man you ignored every day going to your office is at home with his family sitting by a fire and pondering his royal position. As you sink into the sands of a fallen empire, you ask the blind beggar on the corner, “Do you have any good news?” She replies, “I told you of the better country just over the horizon and you called me a fool. You mocked me because I am blind yet I see and I live without a home.”
As you search for answers, your Ivy League knowledge leads you to dead end streets with names like ‘Arrogance’ and ‘Futility’. There are no doors on any of the homes and the laughter of madmen loom from the shadows at night. Where is your friend, your brother? Even the prostitute on Wall Street has gone to an upper room where she has been adopted like a little child.
A cold wind blows and your eyes water. Your teeth grind.
You once saw a brilliant sunrise painted in the sky as a child and you knew then who painted it. It was warm, remember? It was perfect and beautiful. It was given to you to have and hold forever. But you decided to paint your own version and put it on display in your temple. You loved it more than the real thing. Even as your temple fell, you stared at it. Even as it burned, you believed it was there. Over a pile of ashes blown by the wind you stare into the darkness looking for the sunrise you painted for yourself. It was an illusion you admired.
“Do you have any good news?” you say.
“Why, yes I do indeed. But, it’s foolishness to you.” Replies the blind woman.
“Who are you?” you say.
“I am Wisdom.” she says. “You have have been walking around with your eyes shut as if blind. You loved darkness so, it was suited to you and formed for you. It’s devoid of light, glory and power.”
“Can I leave here?” you implore.
Wisdom responds, “Actually, you want to be here don’t you? This is where your path led. You chose it for yourself. The poor leper is cleansed in the place of honor and your loving father is waiting with open arms. Do you want directions?”