'Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”[c] But when she saw him,[d] she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.' ( Luke 1:26-35 )
You might be thinking, 'isn't it a bit late for a 'Christmas message'; isn't this the time of year that we usually celebrate Jesus' resurrection?
Well, first of all; this isn't a Christmas message' ( or is it? ), and it is the season where we usually celebrate Jesus' resurrection, but, without going to far down this rabbit-trail' ( or 'down the rabbit-hole', so to speak ); the birth of Jesus the Christ, the once and future King of Israel, and His entrance into His creation, was only the beginning of the story, or rather the 'new' beginning to a story that had begun long ago, and was just coming to fruition with the birth of Jesus!
Secondly; yes, this is the time of year when the Church, the Wife of God, or the Bride of Christ, has traditionally celebrated the resurrection of the Christ, but is His resurrection, which signaled the re-birth of the Israel of God, not something that we should be celebrating all year round, with our heart, mind, soul ( body ) and strength?
This article was not engendered by either Christ's birth or ours, not even so much by His resurrection or ours, though all of these are integral to our story; this article was written mainly in response to some of the aftermath from a 'bomb' that was recently dropped in the vicinity!
'If the Holy Spirit came upon us as He came upon Mary; does that mean that we are married to God, or does it mean that God is guilty of fornication, or even adultery?'
That IS a 'bomb' which might seem pretty divisive at first, even blasphemous, but really, isn't that just what Scripture teaches?! I John 3:9 says that we cannot sin because 'His Seed remains in us'. Paul wrote this to the ( baby ) Church in Galatia, 'My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you' ( 4:19 )! 'Yes', you might say, 'but that was metaphorical; the Holy Spirit of God actually impregnated the virgin Mary, and very literally formed the body of Jesus inside her womb!' That is correct, but can you not see how Jesus being formed in Mary was a picture of Christ being formed in us, in 'the virgin of Israel' ( Jeremiah 31:4 )?
Most Christians have no problem with the phrase 'Christ in you', but when it comes to the question of exactly how He came to be there, here is where most Christians begin to exhibit their discomfort with where the phrase is leading ( 'down the rabbit-hole', so to speak )! Some might complain about the graphic nature of such a line of thought, and I agree; if we venture very far down this 'hole', things could become very 'sticky', making many turn their backs on the whole matter, and possibly even Christianity itself!
If one really gets into, and does a very deep study of Scripture, especially the Hebrew Scriptures in the original language; one will quickly find out just how graphic the language of Scripture is! Taking an example from the Greek Scriptures ( and remember, this is only a translation, and not the original ); Paul, speaking of the intimacy of a married couple, says, 'This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church' ( Ephesians 5:32 ): how graphic does this conversation get, when you enter that 'hole'?!
Not to offend overmuch, the more puritanical among us; let us move on to less graphic images, shall we?
As we saw in the last article, and can ascertain throughout Scripture without a terribly in-depth study; we are 'the image of God' ( through Christ )! We bear that image before the 'world', those with whom we come in contact on a daily basis, and even, through the power of the internet, the wider community of Christ, His Body around the world, those who are His children, not necessarily through any covenant made with Him, but by virtue of their very birth, or creation!
We have also explored, to some depth, what it means that we are 'the image of God', and how we should display that image. Some might question the wisdom and effectiveness of exploring, or 'plumbing' the depths, as we saw earlier, but the reason for this ( 'plumbing the depths' ) can be explained severally:
The Knowledge of God
'For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings' ( Hosea 6:6 ).
Paul, echoing Isaiah ( 55:9 ), in Romans11:33, exulted, 'Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!' Can we know His ways; can we search out the depths of His wisdom? Well, not perfectly, maybe, because we are finite, in the human weakness of our minds, and He is the infinite Creator and Upholder of all things! Referring to the ability that we have been given; Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church, and again quoting Isaiah ( 40:13 ), 'For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?”[e] But we have the mind of Christ.' ( I Corinthians 2:16 ) Through 'the mind of Christ', or 'Christ in us', I believe that we may, and should, 'plumb these depths', getting to know our Creator on a more intimate basis! Once we realize what it truly means that we bear the image of God, and that Christ has invested Himself in us, we may begin to enjoy a more intimate relationship with Him, as Paul alluded to, and as the prophets of old graphically foretold!
'Let Them Have Dominion'
In the previous article, we saw also how man, as the 'image of God', was to spread that image, or the dominion of God, throughout His creation. It might be argued that man has propagated, at least, to some extent, the knowledge of God and His dominion throughout the known world, but let me place a proposition before you, as an example. Take a politician, for instance, who is vying for elected office; he may hire certain parties, or certain other parties may volunteer to campaign for him. If those certain parties don't know as much as they can about the personality and platform of the man they are promoting, how effective can their campaign be? Sure, they might have a basic knowledge of this man, enough maybe, to convince voters to elect this man, but after he is in office, and because only a basic knowledge of this man's ideals was known, he begins to order affairs in a way contrary to, or to a wider extent than, what was expected, then what do you think are his chances of being re-elected? How do you think his term in office will go?
Don't get me wrong; I'm not likening God to a 'politician'!
There's nothing inherently wrong with having, and being satisfied with, to some extent, a basic knowledge of God ( 'you gotta start somewhere' ), but if we stop there, and continue to be satisfied, being comfortable with just a basic knowledge of 'our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ', and thus fail to 'plumb' 'the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God'; what kind of image will we be showing to the world?
How can we properly spread His knowledge throughout His creation if we only have a rudimentary knowledge of our Creator ourselves?
'Plumbing the depths',
Charles Haddon Shank