home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > December 10 > IS THERE ANYTHING DIFFERENT ABOUT BEING UNIQUE?

IS THERE ANYTHING DIFFERENT ABOUT BEING UNIQUE?

We live on a unique planet which is part of a unique solar system which is part of a unique galaxy which is part of a unique universe. Our unique planet hosts 8.7 million unique animal species and 7.5 billion unique people. There are many other aspects to our earth’s uniqueness, but there is one outstandingly unique trait about our planet that makes it uniquely unique. 

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139:14

 

A UNIQUENESS LIKE NO OTHER

While we are all created unique; and, we are each unique together. We are each and uniquely created in the image of God which makes us each unique but also uniquely distinct from all other creatures and it also bonds us uniquely together. We are quite literally a human family of divine image bearers. 

What is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
¶ Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet.
Psalm 8:4-6

The image of God that we each bear is not just that we each uniquely reflect Him to the rest of creation, it’s not just that we represent Him, it’s not just that we uniquely share several of His attributes (creativity, planning, conceptual communication, altruistic compassion, a spiritual essence enabling prayer and revelation), it is a unique status. The imago dei (“image of God”) is a unique status that only human beings are privileged with from the moment of their conception. When some heavenly (angelic) creatures rebelled, their Creator had provided no means to help them to ever be redeemed. Angels do not share the same privileged status of those who bear the status of the imago dei — as we each uniquely do.

For surely it is not angels that He helps, but He helps the offspring of Abraham.
Therefore He had to be made like His brothers in every respect,
so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God,
to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because He Himself has
suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.
Hebrews 2:16-18

The day will come when time as we have known it will come to end. On that “last day” (John 6:39; 12:48) those among the imago dei family who have been redeemed by Christ by accepting His offer of grace, will be entrusted by the Almighty to judge those fallen heavenly creatures who had rebelled and wrought so much wickedness and evil in the world.

Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?
And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?
Do you not know that we are to judge angels?
How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!
First Corinthians 6:2-3

 

OUR UNIQUENESS REQUIRED A UNIQUE SAVIOUR

As we enter into this Advent season we should reflect on the uniqueness of the Christ-child whose birth we celebrate each Christmas. It often crops up on the internet around Christmas time that Christians simply reinvented pagan myths of virgin-born saviours which may rock the fragile faith of newer Christians. But as Dr. Leon Morris points out in his commentary on the Gospel of Luke, no such myth has yet been found and certainly no ancient myth ever proposed that a virgin would conceive – let alone conceive a child supernaturally! Dr. Morris points out that there are several mythological accounts of ‘gods’ having relations with mortal women to sire a child – but this hardly could then be described as a virgin conceiving! Reflecting on Luke 1 and Matthew 1 we see that Jesus the Christ had a unique birth (Matt. 1:2-23, 25). It was also unique because it was prophesied (Isa. 7:14); accompanied by independent angelic visitations to Mary and her betrothed Joseph. Secondly, Christ bore and received unique divine titles (Isa. 9:6). Thirdly, Christ had a unique name – Jesus – that revealed His unique identity. Fourthly, He had a unique mission (to save people from the eternal consequences of their sin, Matt. 1:21) which He was aware of from a very early age (Luke 2:49). Fifthly, Jesus had a unique destiny to die an atoning death, rise from the dead, ascend by translation back to His heavenly throne, and will then sit in judgment of all people. And sixthly, Jesus the Christ made – and the offer still stands – to cleanse a person from the soul-stain of sin and mediate their adoption as a son or daughter of God the Father.

And there is salvation in no one else,
for there is no other name under heaven
given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12

 

OUR UNIQUENESS MAKES US FAMILY

Loneliness has now reached epidemic proportions in many parts of the world. God’s solution to this has always been family. Our shared humanity should help us to appreciate that our nuclear family is designed by God to be a community of care, support and encouragement to each family member. But God has also designed us to be members of a local spiritual family called a church. It is in the community of the church that we grow together and learn how to care, support and encourage each other. And if my hunch about the growing pandemic of loneliness is close to being right this means that God’s concept of the family complemented by His establishment of the church family certainly makes our uniqueness as a community quite different and probably what most people are actually longing for.

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in His holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home;
Psalm 68:5-6a 

Your pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

3 Comments

  1. MIchael

    Good Pastor’s desk Dr C. I think your premise regarding loneliness is right – in this day where being friends with thousands and electronic connections to millions is somehow normal I don’t see people being more connected – I see them being less connected to family and friends and it is a tragic thing resulting in tragic ends.
    We all need God’s plan for family.
    Thanks for the great work!

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Here, here Michael!!!

      Reply
  2. LYDIA

    Unique, to be unique. This concept I often pointed out to my students years gone by. We are all totally and completely unique. Not anyone of us on this earth has ever been nor will be like the person that we are, being created in God’s image. There is not another clone of ours running around nor ever has been or will be. Which then makes us very special as you pointed out Andrew.
    To be in the state of aloneness or lonely I believe are two different things. A person can be alone and love it. A person could be lonely, yet God didn’t make us a solitary individual to live on an island. God is Trinity, so no loneliness there.
    It’s when we stop looking inwards and start to look outwards, touching the hearts of others, this is where community dwells and loneliness disappears. It’s when we realize that typing on our keyboards is fantastic but we still need to have human interaction of others to make our world ‘real’. Just as we need to hear God’s voice, we also need to hear other people’s voices otherwise some could slowly die inside.
    Love this text Andrew: ‘Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in His holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home;’ Psalm 68:5-6a.
    Amen to that!

    Reply

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SUPER NATURAL CHRISTIANITY

The early Christians were sensitive to the voice of God. Ananias, who prayed for the newly converted Saul of Tarsus, was told by the Spirit where to find Saul, what to say to him, and why it was important for him to do so (Acts 9:10-18). Sometimes followers of Christ are misled to believe that they need to “learn” how to hear the voice of God. There is no example of this need anywhere in Scripture. But there are, however, injunctions to seek the Lord (Deut. 4:29; 1Chron. 16:11; Ps. 34:10; 105:3-4; Isa. 51:1; 55:6; Matt. 6:33; 7:7). 

It was John Calvin who wrote in his commentary on Ephesians that the reasons believers today do not experience the divinely supernatural, as it seems the early Christians did, was the lack of desire. This is what I now want to both remind you of and encourage you to do: seek God. Seek Him. Be open to Him. Pray that you might pray effectively. Ask God to confirm His Word in the hearts of those who need a supernatural encounter with God that might lead to their conversion. And then, be still (Ps. 46:10).

DEEPER SPIRITUALITY

I don’t normally share like this so please excuse me for being a bit more personal than I am normally in these Pastor’s Desks. Last Sunday morning I awoke with a strong sense that I needed to incorporate the vision of Ezekiel’s Temple as a framework for us to think about our year ahead in my sermon for that day. I had to re-jig my presentation (which as you might be aware involves a bit more work than they way most other preachers do their slides). This is why I arrived at church a little later than I normally comfortable in doing. I was particularly gripped by this divine vision given to Ezekiel of the Holy Spirit’s outpouring in the New Covenant with Christ Himself being the Temple-Source (John 2:19-21). While I was preaching to our church community (in-person and online) I was also preaching to myself. As a result, Kim and I continued  in prayer and fasting for the rest of our Sunday. I now want to invite you to consider again Ezekiel’s picture of the Spirit-filled Christian life as the map for going deeper with God.

THINK

home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > January 7 > THINKTHINK The Lord declared through the prophet Isaiah that His thoughts were not like our thoughts and that God’s thoughts were infinitely higher than ours (Isa. 55:8-9). This tells us two profoundly important...

WHAT CHILD IS THIS?

The grace and the truth expressed in the classic Christmas Carols brings great joy to this preacher who strives to produce biblically and theologically informed followers of Christ. It’s one the reasons why this preacher also serves as a gate-keeper over the songs that use at Legana because I know that most of my sermons are long forgotten soon after they are preached yet what we sing on a Sunday rings in our hearts for years to come. This is no doubt why singing, music, hymns, has always been integral to Christian worship (Eph. 5:19). The consolation that us forgettable preachers have though is that most good song-writers were, and are, biblically/theologically informed by faithful preachers. May the magnitude of what we sing this Advent grip our hearts, enlighten our souls and fill us each with joy inexpressible. Merry Christmas.

THE ART OF COMFORT

Pastors come in different varieties which is why the term pastoral conjures different ideas in the minds of different people. A pastor is like the hand that is placed in the glove of a ministry position which then leads to that glove taking a certain shape of the pastor’s strengths, abilities, and spiritual gifts. Over time, if the partnership between a pastor and a congregation endures, that pastor will also be shaped by the needs and demands of those whom God has called them to shepherd. And if both that pastor and that congregation are particularly blessed by God, the breadth of the needs and demands of a growing congregation will be attended to by pastors rather than the unrealistic expectation of them being met be a pastor. But there are times when a pastor is called upon by the broader community to care for that broader community in those times of severe adversity resulting from some tragedy. Floods, bush-fires, transport disasters (air/sea/road), military incidents, famine, are just some broader community demands for pastoring that come to mind as examples. More often than not, the type of person that God equips to enter these tragedies is one who has been shaped by God through having to deal with their own tragedies. In these instances the pastoral glove takes the shape of a chaplain. A chaplain’s principal function is comfort. In writing to the Corinthians after a particularly painful series of events, the tragedy-seasoned apostle Paul was able to comfort those he was ministering to because he himself had been the beneficiary of comfort from God through others.

WHO CARES?

home > Pastor's Desk > 2021 > December 3rd > WHO CARES?WHO CARES? The world into which the Saviour of mankind entered as a baby was a very harsh place. Life was cheap. Might was right. The oppressed were abused and often mistreated by the Roman conquerors....

WHAT FILLS YOUR HEART, MIND, AND SOUL?

God has made humans to engage their hearts, minds, and souls with music. Bach discovered this; but, Cobain did not. It is why music has played a central role in Christianity — in its discipleship of believers, and in its facility to bring God’s people together in worship each Lord’s Day. Musical songs teach biblical truth and theologically educate believers about the God. Sacred music stirs and lifts the soul and not just for the fleeting moment, but in a way that actually nourishes the soul by filling it with a lingering sense of God’s presence. This is why bring, joyful, upbeat Christian worship songs are so important for the discipleship and sustenance of the believer. As a preacher I am deeply appreciative of the complementary role that our musical worship plays in promoting the truth of God’s Word, and I hope you are too. 

It’s Complicated

home > Pastor's Desk > 2021 > November 19th > It's Complicated Sometimes the obvious is little difficult to recognise. That’s why you might not have recognised that over the last few decades we have been transitioning out of our old world into the new...

WHEN CULTURE BEGINS TO ZIG IT MAY BE TIME FOR CHRISTIANS TO ZAG

LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF DANIEL
¶ But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.  And God gave Daniel favour and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs
Daniel 1:8-9
Daniel’s world had been turned upside down. As a young well-to-do Jewish boy who grew up in a highly regarded family with parents who took their devotion to Yahweh seriously, he too would have expected that all of his training would have led him to follow in his father’s and Grandfather’s footsteps in the service of the King’s royal court. Even as a young man in his early teenage years he would have expected to one day take a wife and pass the baton of his knowledge and privilege to his son too. But then his world began to be shaken. The early stages of the disruption began when he was not yet a teen and a very upset and tearful young man from Anathoth, not too much older than himself, stood on the temple steps and denounced the wickedness of the King of Judah. Daniel would have remembered hearing this teenage prophet call the King and the people of Judah to repentance before the Lord’s wrath came upon them. This virgin prophet warned of the destruction of the temple and the invasion of the world’s most vile people — the Babylonians. The disruptions from this highly emotional priest-prophet continued until he was barred from entering the city, but undaunted, he wrote his prophecies out and his secretary, Baruch, deliver them in his stead. Despite the scorn, mocking, and eventual imprisonment, Daniel witnessed the tenacity of the one who came to be known as “ the Weeping Prophet” and some seventy years after Jerusalem was indeed destroyed by Babylonian forces (just as the prophet had foretold), Daniel referred to his copy of the now late prophet’s words and turned them into a …

CREATIVE CONTROL

One of the things that attracts many people to the coast is the the sight and sound of waves breaking on the shore, particularly after a period of bad weather. Ocean waves represent energy that has been transferred from air moving across the air/sea interface as wind blows. The longer and stronger the wind blows, the greater the energy transfer and the greater the size of the waves. Beginning as small wind waves, the waves grow and transform into swell that can travel thousands of nautical miles across ocean basins. On reaching the shallow water of a coastline the energy moving through the water transforms into steeper breaking waves that release this energy as they break on the shore. Having worked on ships, I have always found the formation processes and the way that waves move interesting. They obey physical laws. Their height and period and velocity can be predicted, based on the speed and duration of the wind. They can steal energy from nearby waves. They can change direction and bend around headlands. Waves, like people, can build and can destroy.