What Substance!


“Woman in Blue Reading a Letter”
Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675)

What substance! My barefoot, village preacher claimed to belong to the realm of God. This is certainly the highest claim anyone could make in the best attested historical piece of ancient literature. Claims are not hollow or inferior to fact. This is not a folklore, legendary, or mythological story; therefore, it is to be treated with respect. Nobody prevents a person from stating that which they actually believe to be the truth about themselves. Only lunatics, liars, impostors, or megalomaniacs would make such a tall, outrageous claim.

On the contrary. Jesus was a deep, sublime teacher. Transparent truthfulness was a major theme of his life. In regards to the words of Jesus, “They are read more, quoted more, loved more, believed more, and translated more because they are the greatest words ever spoken. Their greatness lies in the pure lucid spirituality in dealing clearly, definitely and authoritatively with the greatest problems that throb in the human breast.” Lub-dub, lub-dub! Need I go further? This quote alone has me believing.
-Bernard Ramm
‘Protestant Christian Evidences’

In addition to reviewing the topics of historical literature, highest claim, message & mission in my previous paper, “Highest Claim,” I have yet 4 more sections which should point us to >>>”utterly unique individual” >>> birth, length of ministry, death, and resurrection.

>Christ came into the world “After his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child” (Matthew 1:18). An illegitimate child for a religious cause? How did the Son of God enter our stratosphere? Now, this topic is the hardest for me to entertain.

>>We naturally tend to respect those who have been at the helm of livelihood with some reflection of staying power. Yet Jesus traversed the regions of Galilee spreading his message and miracles for a mere three and a half years. Now, 2,000 years later, he has such a great following, and the numbers keep climbing worldwide. Why hasn’t time wiped away our short 3 and a half years from history?

>>>The ending of any event is looked upon as a defining moment, where everything along the way recedes into the background; the friendly benedictions, the ecstasy and the disappointments, the making and the breaking – all are focused there. Always gripping. Now with our eyes on the ending, I hear a bitter cry from a condemned criminal dying on a cross. He stood for his claim and his message and he died a most non honorable death. Now what? Who will fill the void? Who will deal with my sin problem?

>>>>“I am the living one. I died, but look – I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave. Write down what you have seen – both the things that are now happening and the things that will happen.” (Revelation 1:18-19. Tyndale, NLT). Being a health professional, I have witnessed many resurrections from the dead. This topic is the easiest for me to entertain.

I woke up crying Tuesday morning after two restless nights of tossing and turning, trying to sleep on a warehouse trampoline in Asheville, and after reading a letter in my inbox with the subject line: [New Life Terminating]. I had hoped it was all a terrible lie, because the realization would mean…we are human? New Life, an non-traditional, Christian group growing community in each of our own neighborhoods throughout Atlanta, has been my church family for eight years. We almost had the perfect Acts 2 church model. What did we expect when our core leadership moved away and left the building?

Nobody could make the claim Jesus made, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20, Tyndale, NLT). And so, we go our own ways. My same Summers family was never around the evergreen Christmas tree for more than one year in a row, and we never will be. I say all this because that word “termination” was a deep disturbance delivered in a shocking, destructive surge of hard changes. Will our stories be forgotten? Will God be forgotten?

Christ said he would be with me to the end. I believe that. Come back tomorrow, and he’ll be walking with me, straining my sense of reasoning.

“To believe that a remote impostor, in a forgotten province of a perished empire, stamped Himself so deeply on Time as to compel all the centuries to bear His name is to believe that a child, with a box of colors could change the tint of all the oceans!”
-W.H. Fitchett
‘The Unrealized Logic of Religion’

Nothing could be more appropriate than to paint themes of his words with the functioning power of the pigment. In ‘The Art Spirit’, Robert Henri said, “She is an artist in the beginning and is busy finding the lines and forms to express the pleasures and emotions with which nature has already charged her.” Writing and Biblical storying have wholly occupied me like a search and rescue mission for my soul. Writing helps me draw on my sense of meaning, with a bonus benefit of quiet fulfillment. During this time of expressing my faith at church, my interest in ministry gave way to a new ambition to be an artist, and I have been sustained emotionally, intellectually, and financially to an extent that is hard to overstate. Being an artist sustains the momentum of a connection so big that the movement will not suffer or disappear. No one can carry me spiritually. I will remain a fool for him.

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