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14th April, 2010

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The "all in all" and the "less than nothing"

King David was overwhelmed at the thought not only of what God can do but also what He does do:

You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it (Ps. 139:2-6).

Don't these words flabbergast you? Assuming this passage reveals God's inclusive interest in all men and not exclusive interest in David, it shows that God is monitoring your every thought and knows what you are going to say before the nerve impulse from your brain reaches your tongue and converts the thought into words. That God is capable of doing such a thing is jaw-dropping in itself, but that He would be interested enough in us to do so surpasses all understanding. He is everything, while we are nothing.

Contrast such boundless interest by the "all in all" in the "less than nothing" with the non-existent interest the "less than nothing" has for the "all in all". (Got all that?) As a breed, we Homo sapiens couldn't give a gnat's eyelash for the One who made us and gave us this astoundingly beautiful and inspiring planet as a gift (Ps. 115:16). Shame on us. What shocking ingratitude. Jesus Christ was willing to endure agony and to taste death in order that we may be reconciled with God and come under His grace, yet we barely give it a passing thought and certainly don't concern ourselves with the sinfulness that His death atones for. Are we mad? Yes, absolutely. Our planet is the insane asylum of the universe. We even go so far as to deny His very existence. Nuts, completely nuts. Every dog lives for its master's good pleasure, but we neither know our Master nor care a fig about Him. He would be administering appropriate justice were He to snap His fingers and vaporize the earth with its inhabitants.

But God's infinite goodness and love call forth His mercy, and in His unlimited self-control He stays His boundless zeal for justice and remains silent - for the time being (Is. 42:14). Yes, He will hold us all accountable for our thoughts and deeds, and mete out a merciful version of condign punishment. But even divine justice is not so much an end in itself as a means to an end. (See Judgment and salvation: perfect partners.) God is in the business of life, not death,

of salvation, not annihilation. Surely His intense interest in our every thought reflects more His desire to save us than His determination to judge righteous judgment.

What do I mean by that last statement? He diligently monitors thoughts with the thinker's salvation in view. Our heavenly Father is determined to do all in His power to ensure that almost all will enter His kingdom and revel in the eternal life that He makes available. The biggest challenge He faces is to bring human beings to the point where they understand to the very core of their being that they are not O.K., that they fall far, far short of the holy frame of mind that will enable them to live for all eternity in peace with both God and peer. That way of thinking is simply stated in Philippians 2:5:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

Nobody has that mind by nature. That mind operates on a level far above the noblest of human minds. Every human being is a sinner by nature (Luke 5:8), utterly incapable of always, at all times, and in every circumstance thinking and acting in a way that will strengthen relationships with all others. We are wracked with egotism and selfishness; in any conflict we are always right and the other is always wrong. Wrong! We accept conflict as "normal" when in fact it destroys relationships. Perhaps the ultimate form of sin is indifference towards God, our Maker, and Jesus Christ, our Savior. If the kingdom of God is to stand forever it cannot afford to be divided. Petty rivalries, partisan spirit, selfishness and egotism would scupper all chances of peace. Humility must reign. Above all, every citizen of that kingdom must adore and worship His Maker and Savior in spirit and truth. Anyone who doesn't would eventually turn feral, simple as that, and tarnish the joy of eternal life for others. Only those whom God knows will never turn sour will enter the kingdom of God (2 Peter 2:13). See God's problem?

The very first step towards granting each individual the salvation made possible by Jesus Christ is to bring that individual to repentance; he has to see that he doesn't naturally have the mind of Christ, without which he would turn to sin, selfishness, or egotism at some point in eternity. Only after repentance can a person put on the mind of Christ by growing into "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). The Master Potter monitors thoughts to ensure He knows each individual thoroughly; then He can tailor-make what He must do, in the resurrection of judgment, to lead each person to repentance (Rom. 2:4) and the worship of God (Rom. 14:11).


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