Thursday, May 05, 2005

Double Booking Beliefs

David, an imaginary person, needed to see his primary care doctor, so he made an appointment. Writing down the specifics regarding date and time on a piece of paper, he promised himself he'd note the information on his calendar as soon as he arrived home. Later that day, his wife Jane called, and reminded him that their daughter, Lisa, was to play the piano at a recital. "Can you make it?" Jane asked. Excitedly David answered, "When is it, I'm pretty sure I can." He was excited that Lisa was now able to play well enough to be in a recital. As Jane relayed the information, David wrote it on a piece of paper. It was then that he remembered the doctor's appointment, and mentioned it. "It's about time!" Jane responded. (Jane had been requesting David to have a checkup for some weeks). "When is it, I'll go with you." "Sounds good, I wrote it down an a piece of paper and put it somewhere," David replied. Listening, Jane could hear the shuffling of paper over the phone as David looked for the information. "At last I've found it, here it is." replied David. As he read the paper, Jane's smile disappeared, and then she said quietly, "Darling, your doctor's appointment is on the same date and at the same time as Lisa's recital." David looked at both papers, and with a sickening feeling in his stomach, agreed, "yes, you're right, it is." Disappointed, David knew he'd have to miss his daughter's first recital. He also knew that his wife wouldn't be able to accompany him to his doctor's office, yet he simply could not reschedule his appointment. Frustrated, David vowed he would never double book his schedule again. He'd be more careful in the future.

How many of us have been in that situation at one time or another? We've double booked events because we couldn't find the paper where we wrote the initial information. This is one reason agendas and organizers are so handy -- they help prevent double booking. Once we write an event on a calendar, we are immediately able to see if there is a conflict. Unfortunately, sometimes the conflict isn't in our schedule, but in what we believe. We double book what we believe. Wouldn't it be simple if we could just write down our beliefs on a calendar of sorts and see where the conflict is? That way we could take our argument to its logical and final conclusion, and see the conflict in our beliefs before we carry them out. Because it's not until we're confronted by apparent inconsistencies, that we start to seriously ponder what we truly believe. Sadly, not only are we often blinded by untrue beliefs we hold dear, but these same beliefs hurt others as well. Without the special lenses of the Holy Spirit, we remain in blissful darkness.

In Mark 8, Jesus questions the disciples' belief regarding Himself. Consider the answer that Peter gave to Jesus.

Mark 8:29 And He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto Him, Thou art the Christ.

Peter's response reveals a lot more than what was said on the surface. Peter believed what the Pharisees refused to believe. He believed that although Jesus was in human form and nature, was a carpenter's son of dubious parentage, and was raised in Nazareth, yet He was the Son of God-- the Christ. The Pharisees, having observed Jesus over the years, knew that He was the son of Mary, not of Joseph, that He was a carpenter by trade, and that He was poor and uneducated at their schools. They believed that anyone who ate, drank, slept, smelled, and grew tired as they did, could not be the Son of God. Never would the majority of them accept Him as the Messiah. Even John the Baptist, who heard the voice of God as He spoke at Jesus' baptism saying, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the Sin of the World," had trouble believing that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah (and he understood that Jesus was the way to salvation). We on the other side of the cross have no trouble believing in Christ's divinity. We merely have trouble believing that Jesus took upon His divine nature, a sinful nature, just like ours, 4,000 years after the fall. Instead, many of us would like to believe that yes, Jesus hungered and thirsted (after all the scripture clearly says this-- see the woman at the well, and the disciples' story in John chapter 4) and that He was weary. But to accept that He was subjected as a male human being to sexual temptation, and yet did not sin? To believe that He was tempted to lust, pride, envy, jealousy, in the same way we are, and yet did not sin, sounds to us preposterous. The concept that He did not engage in the desire to exercise self-will, although tempted strongly as a human being to do so, seems untenable. Yes, we know that He did not fall and instead remained submitted to His Father's will, but we don't, and since we don't, we can't see how He could.

Yes, brothers and sisters, our dilemma is essentially the same as it was two centuries ago, when Christ walked the earth. Do we choose to believe the word as it is, or as it seems it should be to us? Of this paradox concerning Christ's nature, Ellen White says,

To human eyes Christ was only a man, yet He was a perfect man. In His humanity He was the impersonation of the divine character. God embodied His own attributes in His Son--His power, His wisdom, His goodness, His purity, His truthfulness, His spirituality, and His benevolence. In Him, though human, all perfection of character, all divine excellence, dwelt. The strong denunciation of the Pharisees against Jesus was, "Thou, being a man, makest thyself God" (John 10:33), and for this reason they sought to stone Him. Christ did not apologize for this supposed assumption on their part. He did not say to His accusers, "You misunderstand me; I am not God." He was manifesting God in humanity. Yet He was the humblest of all the prophets, and He exemplified in His life the truth that the more perfect the character of human beings, the more simple and humble they will be. He has given to men a pattern of what they may be in their humanity, through becoming partakers of the divine nature. (E. G. White Notes)

Now the question is posed to us: Whom do we say that He is? We believe that He is God. But, can we see what Peter and the Pharisees saw, a Human Being, subject to the our same temptations and frailties? We cannot simultaneously hold the belief that He is our Saviour and our example, but that He had some of our flesh after the fall, and some of Adam's before the fall. For if Christ did not take on fallen human flesh, then what example could He be? Adam did not need redeeming before he fell, of what value then could it be for Christ to take on his unfallen flesh? All humanity after Adam's fall (including Adam and Eve) needed not only a saviour, but an example of the life of righteousness in one, that is Christ. Furthermore, we needed His righteousness, for without it we would still be lost. Christ conquered Sin and death in His flesh, precisely because He was both human, having taken on our corporate human nature and divine. Without this combining of natures in His body, our salvation would be null and void. And although we don't participate in saving ourselves, we also have access to this combination of natures by cooperating with heaven. We are human, and when we accept Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us. Our characters then, come to be formed after the divine mind from the inside out, and we too begin to resist temptation to sin. Thank God for Jesus Christ!

C.S. Lewis' assertion as stated in the lesson is true: He (Jesus) was either who He said He was, or a lunatic. That quote, originally written for unbelievers, applies to many of us today. We would do well to consider Jesus' claims as made by His servants the Patriarchs, Prophets and Apostles. For the Jews, the issue was and still is Christ's divinity, for us who believe Christ is God, the issue at hand is His humanity. Ultimately, our answer determines our destiny. And fortunately, a prayerful, thorough study of the subject is still timely. Let's no longer double book our beliefs.

Maria Greaves-Barnes & Raul Diaz

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