“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Master, the Steward, and the servants

My sister’s house burned and my brother-in-law, Francis, asked me to help fix it up. It’s a 140 year old house, built at the end of the Civil War, and fixing it up basically means restoration.

He hired a carpenter crew to rebuild the roof and parts of the house structure that were damaged. The lead carpenters are Latinos who speak English pretty well, but the workers speak only Spanish. Part of the reason Francis asked me to be his middleman, is that I speak some Spanish, and also I speak carpenter-ese, having been a framing carpenter for years before joining the Navy.

But the practices of the carpenters are not what Francis expected. Their measurements aren’t always accurate, so, often lengths of boards come up short and leave gaps, boards don’t line up flush like they need to in order to prevent the drywall from bowing out or in, floor joists that should meet studs come up short and aren’t fastened tightly. In short, the work is shabby in the eyes of Francis, and also to me in comparison to how I was trained when building custom homes.

Francis is very particular about how work should be done, because he owns the house and bears all the responsibility for it existing for another 140 years, as well as being sellable if he were to put it on the real estate market at some point in the future. But regardless of his future plans for the house, it belongs to him and he has the sole right to perfection in restoration standards. That right does not rest with the workers; it doesn’t even rest with me.

I am just a go-between. I represent Francis to the carpenters. What I say goes for them, because Francis has vested me with that authority. He comes in occasionally to look around. Often has he been pained at the workmanship, and has questioned me for allowing it to happen. Periodically, he speaks directly to the carpenter foreman, but usually he talks to me and expects me to communicate his desires and to see that what he wanted they did. It’s been painful to me to see Francis less than overjoyed at all the work that has been done. When he points out the gaps and misalignments and shoddiness, I feel his grief to the core. Francis is like my own brother, and I care about how he feels. I don’t want him burdened down with worry and disappointment all the time. I want to see delight and thrill on his face and on my sister’s face.

The carpenters don’t have the same interest in Francis’ feelings as I do. They will do their job and move on to some other home owner. I don’t move on. I am Francis’ brother-in-law forever. I will see him and speak to him and know his concerns or happiness in the house and on other life issues for decades to come. I am compelled to please him in everything with this project. I want to serve him, to make him happy, to relieve him of all doubts and valid fears, not by convincing him that his concerns aren’t valid, but by accepting that they are real, and fixing them or preventing them.

Here lies a beautiful object lesson from life on earth, which shows the role of Christ as our mediator with His Father. God has infinitely high standards for the upbuilding of His kingdom. Much damage has been waged against Him by Lucifer, His kingdom of unfallen worlds and the angelic hosts have been salvaged at the cross, but He remains yet to save humanity. We have the high privilege of vindicating God and His law which have been under attack by Lucifer. Adam had that privilege in the garden, but fell under the subterfuge of the tempter. Yet, in His exceeding grace and faith, God has continued to make Earth the place to vindicate His character. Utterly surprising and amazing to us and the universe is God’s determination to allow faulty and defective humanity, through His grace and power, to demonstrate His righteousness in His mercy and condescension toward us who will never merit even His least kindness. Yet this is His glory.

In our work in His service of self-sacrificing love, we fall infinitely far short of His expectations. All of our work is shabby, shoddy, half-hearted, and reckless, by His standards and even by our own standards of right-treatment of others. We need a mediator, we need a Savior. Christ made Himself a servant. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, …. made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” (Phil. 2:5-7).

His Father’s representative, He alone understood His Father’s standards, and He alone could fulfill those standards, in His own work and also through His work in His servants. For it is written, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10).

“Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all His house. For this Man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but He that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all His house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; but Christ as a Son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” (Heb. 3:1-6).

Jesus alone comprehends the depth of pain that has grieved His Father. Sin has been allowed to persist during all this great controversy between God and Satan, and our Father has not been so distant as to not feel every murder, every lie, every broken trust, every broken heart. And all this perpetrated under the guise of a better government by Lucifer, his experiment which he claims is only limping along because God keeps interfering with its development and also because of our stupidity. We can’t fathom the issues at stake and the warfare that has gone on over our heads for the past 6,000+ years. His human children, created more in His image than any other creation, are completely ruined by sin, a condition He can never accept, yet His torment is that He can’t live without us, and it slays His great heart of love that He can’t protect us from the satanic master of our choosing.

But Christ, who alone knows His Father perfectly, has determined to ease Him of His pain. He was made in our form that we could more easily identify with Him. He represents His Father to us, and us to His Father. He took on the form of man, forever cloaking His divinity with humanity, forever the Son of man. His appearance alone speaks volumes in our behalf. This not to appease a resentful King of the universe or to turn His love toward us, but to allow aid in the process of remediation and remission of His Father’s pain. The tremendous hatred for sin in the heart of God will never be comprehended by us, His finite creatures. We do not bow before His sense of justice as we ought, and only His mercy and love overlook our failing and understand our minute comprehension. But the Son of God comprehends it all.

And through His work of intercession, He will have a people redeemed and ready to present before His Father, amid great fanfare and glorious praise to God’s love. Sin finally past, all its issues and ramifications will be resolved and silenced, not by force of arms, but by the force of self-sacrificing love. God’s house will finally be finished and perfectly glorious. His universe, again free from danger and permanently barring rebellion and guile from its borders, God will be surrounded by all His family that is safe and sound.

“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (Rev. 21:3).


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