“19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence for the entrance into the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way which he inaugurated for us through the curtain, that is, his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us approach with a true heart in the full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for the one who promised is faithful. 24 And let us think about how to stir one another up to love and good works, 25 not abandoning our meeting together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging each other, and by so much more as you see the day drawing near.” (Heb 10)
Are ye sick of lamps yet? Well, bear with me one more post because there’s still one very important morsel to share. What have we got so far? A lamp is an earthen vessel, fed the oil of the Spirit, bearing a small portion of the Light of the World to shine in darkness. So you, little lamp, are proclaiming Jesus to the World until he comes again in glory. Your life, your words, your deeds are all fed by the Spirit and as you keep your own eyes, the window of your soul, on Jesus, you will be filled to overflowing and shine. Good stuff!
Good stuff, but not easy stuff. Two things we’ve kind of glossed over on this drift down my stream of consciousness. The first is this: life is dark. Since we sinned, God has had to put a veil between Himself and us. God is light. So it stands to reason any removal of His presence, any obstruction between Him and us will cast a deep, dark shadow. So the first thing we should notice since Christ opened our eyes is … there’s not much to notice…because it’s dark!
“10 Those who sat in darkness and gloom,
prisoners of misery and iron—
11 because they rebelled against the words of God
and spurned the counsel of the Most High,
12 he therefore humbled their heart with trouble.
They stumbled and there was no helper.
13 Then they called to Yahweh for help in their trouble;
he saved them from their distresses.
14 He brought them out of darkness and gloom,
and tore off their bonds.” (Ps 107)
So we’re free! But the world’s still dark. Which can make it tough on a little lamp trying to keep its eyes on Jesus. Jesus has known this since before we sinned, “18 Then Yahweh God said, “it is not good that the man is alone.” (Gen 2) Didja catch that? Even in God’s “perfect” creation, before sin had crept into the world on serpent’s feet (they had feet then apparently) God instinctively knew the only thing not good in His creation was for the man to be alone. How did God know that?
Because God is not alone! God is three. God is in perfect, harmonious, loving, submitting relationship with Himself! The Son loves the Father and the Father loves the Son and the Spirit is the Spirit of their Love. God made us to draw us into this community! And so the first relationship he makes, the greatest expression of the Trinity there is, is marriage. A man and a woman: separate, different, equal, side by side, two becoming one in covenant.
“29 But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God! 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.” (Matt 22) Marriage is a holy example, a copy, a sketch of the things to come. Not perfect but good for teaching, it gives us an origin of family: a man and woman being fruitful and bearing children. We commit a grievous error however if we think this is the ultimate expression of community or even the ultimate expression of family!
“27 Now it happened that as he said these things, a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and follow it!” (Luke 11) “47 And someone told him, “Behold, your mother and your brothers are standing there outside desiring to speak to you.” 48 But he answered and said to the one who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Behold my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matt 12)
Jesus clearly shows us a new way to become family, a better way…By following Him! When we are born again, we are new creations, children of the Father, brothers and sisters! Not associated because of biological ties we had no choice in, not adopted by strangers but choosing the One who has chosen us first! We are bound together by a covenant of common love! “35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples—if you have love for one another.” (John 13) “9 Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; be attached to what is good, 10 being devoted to one another in brotherly love, esteeming one another more highly in honor, 11 not lagging in diligence, being enthusiastic in spirit, serving the Lord, 12 rejoicing in hope, enduring in affliction, being devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, pursuing hospitality.” (Rom 12) “22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for sincere brotherly love, love one another fervently from the heart, 23 because you have been born again, not from perishable seed but imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1Pet 1)
We know what the lamp is but where does it go? On a lampstand of course. And does it go on the lampstand alone? Heavens no! The Lampstand had seven lamps (Ex 25) on it in a row (Ex 39). Seven, completeness, exactly the right amount. A row, even, separate, different, equal, side by side. The passage from Hebrews said it clearly but the language of the Word never changes, “kingdom of priests, holy nation, a people, brotherhood, family, feast, community, church.” It is not good for us to be alone! If one little light is good, seven, raised up, shining together, filling in the shadows of the others, encouraging each other, rebuking each other, bearing each other, loving each other is a party! The church is the shadow, the sketch, the hint of the heavenly celebration to come, so let’s get this party started!