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God’s Commands, or God’s Commission?

Devotional Thought of the Day.

It’s amazing the difference a word makes, or just a few letters ending words starting with “comm”.  TO be precise  “and” versus “ission”.

As I prepared my studies for this weeks sermon, the difference glares out to me.  The word in Greek has, very definitely, the nature of commission.  Yet over and over we translate it command.  With that translation, we create a load of issues that are not really there.

If you commission something, a piece of art, a building, a musical piece ( I think of Mozart’s Requiem) any project, you give the scope of the work, what your expectations are when it is completed.  It draws the boundaries of the work and brings definition to it.  It is a project something that takes on beauty over time.  And if the work is fulfilled, the one who commissioned it has caused a masterpiece to be created.  It is about the end product, and the formation of it  – a masterpiece.

A command is something with even harder definitions – I always think of an execute order in computer program.  Print X,  the sum of 3+4.  Or the directive that is specific and immediate.  Don’t do this, do that, go here, and that which is commanded must do what is to be done.  The command executed, the project finished, then what?

When it comes to God, and what He would have us do, He is commissioning something, He is describing the parameters and vision for a project that is underdevelopment all our lives.  His goal is a masterpiece, without flaw, something that will endure, and br praiseworthy and glorious.  It’s far more than a moment by moment execution in blind obedience, its being formed and shaped and there is a goal.  The goal is simply defined by one word – a relationship.  The relationship we recognize when we see that He is our God, and when we also recognize that by His work, we are His people.

Indeed a masterpiece!

Yet how many times would we get in the way of that – would we decide to ignore that which He commissioned – to draw outside the lines, the parameters that a common to the commissioning.   (SOme refer to this as disobedience – but its more – the is is that it is an attempt to destroy the masterpiece God commissioned – to ignore or mar His plan with what we want.  It is like spraying grafitti over the artwork in the St Peter’s Basilica,  it is like having someone “sit in” and overdub “Dust in the Wind” with a Kazoo.

Using commission brings a whole different understanding to why God draws the parameters for our lives the way He does.  It reflects on that great verse of Paul in Eph 2:10.  2:10 We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God has already designated to make up our way of life.”  Ephesians 2:10 (NJB)   

So to does commission create a more vivid picture of sin, as we destroy a masterpiece in the making, as we ignore the beauty that God would see in us…so that we create the havoc we think is …

Luckily we aren’t the one who holds the commission – that responsibility is belong’s to the Artist – to the One Isaiah calls the Potter, the One in Whom we are created.  And in Christ, somehow, miraculously, that artwork we once thought was destroyed, is restored, brought back to life and beauty, healed and made whole.  That was His commission – and the giftedness it took, literally was an investment of His life.

Thank God for that mercy, shown to us.

His people, His work.

May as we cry out Lord have mercy, respond with our lives, lived within that which He has commissioned.


Flashcards or Word Problems? How do we disciple?

On facebook these days, there are a lot of pictures of people graduating from high school or college… many of them the children of my high school peers… (which is weird because mine is only 5! – that’s another blog) But it has gotten me thinking about my school days….and the teachers that I liked the most, and now I look back at how they taught, and what it means to educate someone… and then, I look at how we disciple people in the faith.

Do you remember flash cards? You know those things you used to memorize stuff – either math facts ( 2+2=4 or was it 5?) or definitions of words in your early years of school, and languages and formulas and such later on? I hated them – because if you showed you knew the stuff once, for months they still made you practice with them! The answers were easy, and I suppose it gave you a sense of accomplishment. But it was data – and you basically ended up as a computer printer – able to print out whatever was told to you to print out.

Probably because of my dad – I learned to love those things I have heard others dread – word problems. Driving around with my dad -he would ask practical things – like how many bags of cement would we need – to extend our stone wall, or make a planter. How fast he was going over the speed limit.. Or what Carl Yazkremski’s batting average would be if he went 2 for 5 against the Yankees But then I loved them in school. There was something practical that would develop from knowing at what time the two trains coming from point a to point b ( I always rewrote the question to assume they were on the same track!) But the difference in educational strategy is simple – one causes us to spit back the right answer – the other develops in us the ability to apply what we’ve learned…

In discipleship, while making people memorize things is good, we can’t leave it there, or we have created robots, not people in relationships with a loving God who wants to be part of their life, and share His life with them. Memorizing the creeds isn’t enough, if what they teach can only be spit back, but never taken to heart. Remembering what hymn # 347 is in the old hymnal, (and getting upset when the numbers are all changed in the new one!) isn’t beneficial, enless those words as well, pierce the heart and there is a deep connection to what they are saying. Sometimes that connection is sub-conscious – sometimes not… but it is good to think through them and see how they relate to our life.

Ultimately, “word problem” faith is the kind of faith that allows us to see how God sustains us, in the midst of things we cannot understand. It gives us the ability to see God’s word as more than just laws, but the way in which He has designed us to live, how to reach what Maslow called self-actualization, what the Army calls being “all you can be” (though neither really gets it) or what we call holiness – being set apart for a special relationship, to live in a special community, one that God has crafted for Himself, and His people.  It is the kind of life that finds joy in the midst of sorrow, grace and mercy in the midst of betrayal and sin, light in darkness, life in the face of death.  Far to often we reduce what God has commanded to “flash card” status, not realizing that what He has commanded (See Matthew 28), (better translated commissioned ) is Creation… and for us… our new birth, that He has created us anew.

The “Word” in the midst of the problems… which aren’t so big anymore….for we have the WORD (another of Jesus’s titles) present in our lives… always.. and we get that!

So this day, as you are going about, working with the Father, crafting disciples…..teach them to treasure, to guard that which God has commissioned…

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