I would like to spend a few minutes describing this year's Christmas present (at least, as I understand the thing!). All the wrappings and bows are already either stored or tossed by now, and the "what did you get" question, seems to last hardly any longer. The paper disappears after an hour or two, and the description of the gift soon thereafter.
We just have so much "stuff"! MORE stuff...isn't memorable. But, what if, what you got was a tool, as a gift; by which you may bisect thoughts, and properly rearrange the priorities of life, now that's memorable! What if, with this tool, you could see to the "bottom" of things, and in a moment, (correctly!) decide if an idea "mattered" to you, or not? Interesting Christmas present eh?
For me, my Christmas present this year was a wonderful "fit". It, like garb-well-chosen, looks good on me, and definitely is NOT going to the "returns" counter. It fits! No top-hats, nor polka-dot bermuda shorts here...no neon "Atlantic City" neckties for me.
Recently, while discussing "pessimists" in Sunday school, I said; "Pessimists don't regard themselves as 'pessimistic', but rather; WE think of OURSELVES as realists!". In another conversation, not long ago, I said; "There is no guarantee that a person, by virtue of sheer age, will ever, in this world, MATURE". The idea here, being that one surely "can" go to the grave, an immature-ass, it happens all the time!
With such "gloom" as the sizing feature, my present "fits"! None of those horrid happy-faces for me pal. The sign reading "SMILE"..is conspicuous by it's absence. I would describe the gift as "an interpretive grid", but that may not be helpful.
So, let's step back: "Big Picture time". The Almighty has been "offended", the Author of Reality has been mocked, spit-upon, beaten beyond recognition, and called "bad names". His Honor (you see?), His magnificent Glory (you dig?), has been man-handled-wrongly! This unwholesome "trend" (down here) most certainly shall end. It is THE certainty. He...Personally shall see to it, that good order, decency and respect is maintained. It IS the certainty. He has sworn Himself to it.
Time out for a little O.T. story. One day, Elisha is going down the road. "Sons of Belial" (creeps and thugs) begin mocking him: "Hey, what-up Baldy?, Get it on old man!"...and other such unsafe comments are offered. He summons a bear. She destroys them. It is a bit like that, this "interpretive grid" we discuss, but much; much larger.
It's like those signs, "Forget the dog, beware of owner!". In this case, forget the bear...Beware of her Maker! A day of woe, dread, desolation and trampling...and then it goes downhill from there? It is a day of darkness, and mind wrecking terror shall sweep His enemies before Him. This is the plumb-line, and here we find the certainty. The day inescapable, the day unsurvivable, nobody sneaks out on this one! Divine (Uncreated) Fury...leaves nothing "undone" in breaking the rebellion down here.
Hey! This does my heart good! For years now, I've been right-about-here. As long as the insane treason of the enemy ENDS, as long as the foe (and all his slaves) are permanently shattered, and as long as the honor, prestige, might and goodness of the Maker be duly admitted...who cares about anything else? My (personal) salvation, has never been "the point" along these lines.
To be honest here, I see the Church's fixation over "who saved, or, of how-many saved" as a weird kind of trivia. The burning issue is: "CAN we trust Him, or not?...to do the right thing?". Does it matter more to you personally, that His honor has been impugned, or is the trivia quiz about your (personal) future what ACTUALLY matters? Is your escape more crucial than His dignity? Fess up.
See? To fixate upon "Me, and my salvation", proposes that you are to hit some threshold of expertise, or (deep) confidence of assurance, before you become "a good witness". We witness to His glory. Full stop, the testimony ain't about you! That kind of thinking yields the absurd reduction, that you must have assurance of salvation, prior to owning it! It would be like an employer being unwilling to hire, until AFTER you have experience. How do you get experience, before you have it?
No sir. However "round-about" the gift may seem (to us), there is no "direct" way in. You are not admitted to the banquet on your own. You are allowed in, for Another's sake under Another's care, to Another's glory. So then, since we are pained at rotten man's bad treatment of the true King, and outraged at the intolerable dishonor done Him (here), we believe that this must, this shall, be rectified! It is THE certainty. Since (then) we believe such stuff, we INFER that we are among the "elect", in that; "the natural man" has zero interest here!
The new interpretive grid then, has three outputs. 1. The enemies are broken beyond ANY repair...ever. 2. The friends (children really) are repaired beyond any need for further repair...ever. 3. This "scenery", this "stage" upon which this drama plays out, is forgotten, and a new theatre opens! That new realm is the home of the right, the true and the good. He lives there!
The message of gospel isn't some quantitative measure of "how much" love (by the gallon?) He has. If it is about love, it is that Almighty love between Father and Son...and you (the outsider) being invited into that eternal, tumultuous fountain. Like a super-nova (but bright!), a regular tempest and earth-quake ( but wild!) is the love between Father and Son. What we need is that we be invited-in "somehow", and that we be sheltered from that overwhelming brilliance which is His.That shelter, the "true ark", in that coming "flood" (of fire!) is the Body and the Blood. Calvary, the empty tomb, the empty hillside (as he ascends), everything in all reality pivots right here! He, the One shelter, against the coming unsurvivable blow. This shelter was designed and built by the Triune God, for His Honor, and "only incidentally", our good. To His praise; and "accidentally' for our benefit. That is the way to see things, our new grid works!
We keep on trying to build some expert level of "relational" skills. Better to spend time putting on your life-vest, and listening to the orders of the Captain. The interpretive grid is declaring that He brings a message of welcome, a message of gladness, of victory, and that the best is yet to come! He is the Interpreter, and He the interpreted. That interpretation is life, peace, goodness, For Him, By Him, Unto Him, evermore.