Once upon a time, there was a light that shone so brightly, a fire that burned so pure and true. It illuminated all things, turning night into day and opening eyes so they could see. Everyone was amazed that this should be. “Is this light real?” they asked. “How can the light brighten our darkness, when the light cannot brighten itself?”
A new beginning gives us an opportunity to start afresh without prejudice or baggage. The old life and relationships have passed and are no more. From death and ashes, we are reborn, like the legendary Phoenix, to live life anew, to start on a clean sheet.
Slightly more than two thousand years ago, humanity was given a new beginning. Humanity was born from above. God become a human being.
In God becoming human in the person of Christ Jesus, an entirely new relationship between God and man came into being. The old relationship between God and man was replaced totally.
At the birth of Jesus, the angel’s proclamation to the shepherds was: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.…..” Then, multitudes of the heavenly hosts praised God saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace in human beings of goodwill.”
In a new beginning for the great I AM, GOD, a Saviour, Christ the Lord was born.
To understand and appreciate the significance and impact of this new beginning, we have to start at the very beginning of creation.
The cross on Calvary has been a symbol of hope for Christians through the ages. How remarkable it is that the love of God transformed a gruesome crucifixion into good news of how He has saved us and will never forsake us.
When I first went to church, this was the gospel of Jesus presented to me. God loved me so much that He sent Jesus, His only begotten Son, to die on the cross to forgive my sins.
If I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, I would go to heaven and have eternal life with Him. Otherwise, I would go to hell and suffer eternal punishment.
My choice as an eight year old was obvious. I wanted to go to heaven and be certain of my salvation. From that moment, Jesus’ death on the cross (and his resurrection) became the core foundation of my Christian belief.
Interestingly, Jesus’ death is not where the story of the cross begins. Jesus was carrying his cross long before he was crucified.
My short stint with Professor James Torrance in Aberdeen started me on my journey to this realization. Professor Torrance described Jesus like this: “He, who was Son of God by nature, became son of man by nature, that we, who are sons of man by nature, may become sons of God by grace!”
And that is exactly where the story of Jesus’ cross begins…
People asked Jesus in John 6, “What sign (distinguishing thing) will you do, that we may see and believe you? What (thing or action) will you do (as proof)?” We still do today. Many still nurse thoughts that only by Jesus performing a spectacular and defining miracle for them can they believe that Jesus is who he says he is. And they are not wrong.
But belief in someone does not necessarily mean that you are in a love relationship with that person. Here lies the crux of the matter.
What is God’s purpose in sending Jesus? Is it only to believe in Him? If so, all that is needed is for God to perform a spectacular and defining miracle to show that God has sent him. It must be more than that. For even the devils believe in him.
Jesus had made a statement prior to the people asking. He said; This is the work (purpose) of God, that you believe into him whom He has sent.
There is a difference when we say that we are in a relationship with someone or we are into a relationship with someone. ‘In’ speaks of a state of where you are at, expressing the situation of being enclosed or surrounded by something. ‘Into’ is all about movement and progression deeper within the state of where you are.
In common speech, it’s the difference between “I’m with someone” and “I’m into someone.”
You are in a circle of relationships, even if you are on the outer fringes of the relationships. Where you are, there is room and space to move deeper into the center of the circle.
Miracles are meant to place you within the new circle of an experiential love relationship with Him. To grow and mature in this new relationship you need more than that.
The people needed to see and understand this.
So, how did Jesus respond?
God believes in me. These words exploded in my mind and spirit as I flew from Perth to Singapore on 16th March, 2008.
I had been watching an in-flight movie, ‘Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium’, and was fascinated by how a block of wood could do the most wondrous things if only the person, who was supposed to believe in it, believed.
That was when God spoke to me, “I believe in you, Wilfred.”
I was startled. It was as if I was the block of wood and God was believing into me.
What did this mean? I was always taught to believe in God, told it was my belief that would allow him to work miracles in my life.
But this seemed to be only one half of the equation. We love because He first loved us, we believe because He first believed in us! His belief in us is the missing first half of the equation.
Astounding, marvelous, humbling and awesome were but some of the emotions I felt as the impact of these words began to grow within me.
If God believes in me even in all my unbelief, how much more am I able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me?