May 31, 2009 in columns
By REV. LUNA L. DINGAYAN
SECOND OF THREE PARTS
We believe in God, who has revealed Himself to men and women most clearly, and walked with them to draw them tenderly back to Himself.
God’s revelatory and redemptive acts continue. The Israelites were promised by God through their prophets a deliverer or a messiah (Micah 5:2). They always thought of the Messiah as one, who could deliver them from the hands of the Roman Empire; one who could lead them in a rebellion against the empire, so that they could obtain their independence.
Jesus came into the scene. The minds of his disciples were dominated by that hope for a political messiah. Two of his disciples even asked him what would be their place in the Kingdom (Mark 10:37). By that, they meant the time when Jesus would succeed in overthrowing the Roman Empire and would rebuild the Davidic Kingdom of antiquity. But their hopes faded away, and they were very much frustrated when they saw him ended up in the cross. They did not understand the real meaning of his messiahship. Because of this, they decided to return to their former vocations.
But a new kind of hope lighted up in their hearts when they realized that death could never conquer the Christ. Indeed, He was raised from the dead. They therefore affirmed their faith, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn. 20:28). From this perspective they began to articulate their faith in God in the light of the new understanding revealed to them by God Himself.
Throughout the New Testament writings, there is only one primary affirmation of faith in which the different affirmations are based and that is, “Jesus is Lord.” They understood God no longer as the One who is way up there, but rather as the One who “emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of human beings. And being found in human form He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even death in the cross” (Phil. 2:7-8).
God entered history bringing human as well as divine possibilities to human beings.
Eventually, the disciples understood that Jesus Christ’s messiaship was different from what they thought. They realized that God’s liberating power in Him strikes the very core of human existence in which all the alienations of human beings to God, to their fellow human beings and to themselves have emerged, which redound to their hopeless situation, to their human predicament. Man therefore ought to be liberated and must stand before God’s reconciling grace in Christ. They realized that Christ is not a savior of the peripheral existence of human beings, but rather a redeemer of the total person.
We Christians participate in this common history of God’s redemptive acts. And we do share in the belief that God is not only a God who created the universe, upholds and governs it by His love and justice, but rather He has revealed Himself to humanity perfectly in Christ Jesus, and walked among them to draw them tenderly back to Himself.
We believe in God, who is still alive and active in the world about us, and in our hearts within us.
New understanding emerged when Christ’s followers discovered that God in Christ will be forever present about and within them. They were assured of the Spiritual Presence which will direct them in continuing the task that Christ left in their hands. Jesus said in the Book of Acts, “When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
In the Book of Acts, where we find the record of the great events in the life of the early church, the workings of the Holy Spirit are very much evident. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the apostles had done wonderful deeds. It was the Holy Spirit that gave them the power to say to a lame man in front of the Beautiful Gate, “Rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6); to speak boldly in front of the high priests and elders of Jerusalem (Acts 4:3l); to share their possessions with their brethren (Acts 4:32); to perform miracles and wonders among the people (Acts 5:12).
This was the “Spiritual Presence” that gave them the courage to endure persecutions (Acts 5:17-21); the Holy Spirit which empowered their lives to spread the Good News to the so-called Gentiles – to Antioch, Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens and to other different places in the known world.
God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ became real in the life of the early church by the workings of the Holy Spirit. The church had been zealous in its works. In spite of numerous persecutions of different sorts, the church became larger and larger. No less than the wise Rabbi Gamaliel declared to the persecutors: “If what they have planned and done is of human origin, it will disappear, but if it comes from God, you cannot possibly defeat them, you will find yourselves fighting against God!” (Acts 5:38a-39).
We have just narrated part of the history of God’s redemptive process. And God’s saving acts still continue. We take note that Christians have encountered and have known God through His revelations in the great events in history and most clearly in His incarnation. We experienced Him as the Creative Power that made all things into being, the Ruler and Sustainer of the universe.
But God is not an impersonal God. He entered history and revealed Himself fully to humanity. He opened great possibilities for human beings to live in His grace by His saving love. This is the God who will never forsake His creation. He is always alive and active in the world, indwelling in the hearts of men and women. CONTINUED NEXT ISSUE # nordis.net