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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THE PRODIGAL FATHER

 Does anyone know what the word prodigal means? Perhaps most people assume that it means: “wanderer”, or “rebel”, or perhaps even “backslider” or that it only applies to sons. This seems to be based on the story that Jesus told in Luke 15 to which most Bible Publishers assign the division title – The Parable of the Prodigal Son. But the word prodigal does not occur in this parable. Interestingly, there are three lead characters in this shocking and famous parable: the father and his two sons. One of these was genuinely ‘prodigal’, and, as Tim Keller points out, it was neither son! To appreciate what Keller means we might need to take another look at what the word prodigal actually means. It comes from the verb prodigious which means remarkably great in extent, size, or degree (New Oxford American Dictionary). It is a word often used to describe an author who regularly writes books – John Grisham is a prodigious author. A prodigal person is therefore, prolific, extravagant, excessive, and, lavish. Keller points out that even though most people ascribe this to the wayward son in the parable, it is more appropriately a designation for the lead character in the story, the father!

SUPER SUCCESSFUL CHRISTIANS

Spare a thought for those people who are often overlooked by churches—and if they are Christians—they frequently struggle to even find a suitable church where they can deepen their relationship with Christ. Often we think of those who struggle with life as those who are “down and out” and blighted by impoverishment, or destitution, or ill-health, or family breakdown, or poor mental health. But surprisingly, even those who are seen as super-successful because of their wealth, social stature, public acclaim or amazing achievements, are actually struggling with loneliness, emptiness, and poor mental health — even if they are a Christian. These super-successful Christians are CEOs of large companies, or world-class or national sporting champions, or internationally renowned performing artists, or A-lister actors, or media personalities, or highly sought after professionals such as surgeons or barristers. They often pay a high price for their success, including, long work hours, constant stress, public criticism, extended time away from their families, fierce competition, and strained marriages. These pressures are exacerbated by their constant travel associated with their work which also makes them vulnerable to exhaustion and extraordinary temptations. This is why these super-successful Christians need to join the kind of church that can provide them with the kind of support, counsel, and accountability that every Christian needs. Here’s how a church can become this kind of church.

MAKING CHURCH A WELCOMING HOME

For many people, making a decision to attend a church is a significant and potentially daunting decision. As they come through the front door they are entering an unfamiliar environment. It is also an environment that may be associated with preconceived ideas of what the expectations and rules of the church community may be. These people probably will not know anybody and they might have concerns that relate to their previous or current lifestyle. For those of us who are regular church attendees, it is possible that we may not fully appreciate the challenges a new attendee may be facing. When we can relate to these concerns, I believe we are better equipped to provide a warm and patient “welcome” to what we hope will become their new church home.

LOVE IN ACTION

Physical illnesses and stressful events are endemic in our society. They can be likened to the thorns that cause both pain and damage. It doesn’t take much for them to impact a person’s life in ways that they did not expect. I believe that we can become more resilient as followers of Jesus by applying an appropriate solution to a known problem. I believe that an appropriate and important part of the solution is for us to show love the way that Jesus demonstrated love during His ministry on earth.

THE TOOLS OF REMEMBERING

I like to think I have a pretty good memory.  I like to think I’m organised.  Generally, I am – I don’t double book appointments, I keep track of what I’m doing and when, I mostly turn up on time. But, on reflection, I’m not so sure this means I have a good memory.

TRUTH vs SOMETHING BIG AND HAIRY

“You were lying in your bed, you were feeling kind of sleepy.
But you couldn’t close your eyes because the room was getting creepy.
Were those eyeballs in the closet? Was that Godzilla in the hall?
There was something big and hairy casting shadows on the wall.
Now your heart is beating like a drum, your skin is getting clammy.
There’s a hundred tiny monsters jumping right into your jammies”!

These are lyrics from a song on the very first Veggie Tales video every made. The title of the song?  “God is bigger than the Boogie Man”. Junior Asparagus was lying in bed frightened, and Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber appeared to tell him that he doesn’t have to be scared of the imaginary monsters because, “God is the bigger.” My childhood night-time fears weren’t so much about big and hairy monsters, aka boogie men, or Godzilla in the hall. My fears were house fires – our home burning down, and “burglars” or “robbers”. But I certainly identify with lying in bed, my heart beating like a drum, my skin getting clammy, my imagination in overdrive.

CLOSING THE DEAL

In 1871, the American evangelist, Dwight (“DL”) Moody was preaching to huge crowds each night in Chicago. At the end of each message he would give an appeal for people to either respond immediately to the gospel message he had just presented, or at least go home and consider it. But on Sunday October 8th, 1871, a huge fire broke out in Chicago. It burned through the city for days and became known as The Great Chicago Fire. Around 10,000 people were homeless as a result, and hundreds of people lost their lives. Moody was heart-broken when he realised that many of the people who had died were the people who had attended that Sunday night meeting where he had urged them to consider accepting Christ. His deep grief over this tragedy led him to make a vow that he would never again merely urge people to simply consider accepting Christ. From now on, he vowed, he would plead with all those he preached to – to immediately turn away from their sins and turn to the Saviour. DL Moody committed his life and ministry as an evangelist to be someone who would always strive to close the deal because he was now aware—more than ever—that people’s eternal destinies were in jeopardy! 

BUILDING A MOODY CHURCH

The three things that make the Christian life exciting and enthralling are the same three things that enable a believer to develop a closer relationship with God. The combination of these supernatural gifts gives the child of God an awareness that there is more, much more, to this world than we can see, touch, taste or feel. When the Christian’s faith is grounded and buttressed in God’s Word, godly prayer, and God’s house he or she flourishes. But there are forces at play that are determined to stop the believer from reaching their spiritual destiny. While we might think these enemy forces only use the fiery darts of doubt to hinder the believer’s journey to glory, there is something that they successfully use far more often: our mood. This is why, for any church to be successful, it must discover how to build moody church.

PRAYING PRAYERS

The amazing thing about prayer, is that nearly everyone does it – but hardly anyone thinks they do it well. If you visit any Christian bookstore you will notice that the largest display of books is about prayer. And it’s not just Christian bookstores where you’ll find books on prayer. Regular bookstores also sell a wide range of books on prayer (even if they do classify them as books on ‘meditation’!). One of the most frequently searched questions on Google is, “How to pray” (which then points enquirers to over 2.3 billion web pages answering their question). But in all of human history – and two thousand years before anyone but one had ever heard of Google – there was just One person who was supremely qualified to answer this question. And fortunately for those of us who really want to know the answer to this question (without having to peruse more than 2.3 billion web pages!) He gave us the answer.

WHY SOME BELIEVE

Why is it that two people can look at exactly the same evidence and can come to completely different conclusions about it? Even more puzzling is how two equally qualified scientific experts can look at the same data and utterly disagree about what it means. This happens many times in court cases where the prosecution will call their “expert witness” to give his or her professional opinion to verify that the defendant is guilty only to have the defence to present their “expert witness” who gives his or her professional opinion as to why the prosecution’s expert witness was wrong and to prove that defendant is innocent! This at least illustrates why it is not always the quality of the evidence that leads a person to accept or reject a claim. This especially apply to the claims that Jesus Christ made. Of the four accounts in the New Testament written about His life, three of them were written by eye-witnesses and the other one (Luke’s) was written by someone who interviewed many eye-witnesses. It is with interest that we turn to the last one to be John’s Gospel, where he describes dramatic proofs that Jesus was who He claimed to be. Yet despite these otherwise inexplicable proofs that at times thousands of people witnessed, many still wouldn’t believe. But it seems among those who did believe they all had one thing in common.