Our Participation in the Plan of God
“Our Participation in the Plan of God”
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
Fifth Sunday of Easter
April 24, 2016
Readings: Acts 13:44-52, Psalm 145:1-9
Revelation 19:1, 4-9
This is the fifth Sunday of Easter. Just one more Sunday then we re-live Christ’s sending to us the Holy Spirit to seal the power in our lives with all that He has given us in Easter.
In Revelation 19, we are given a picture of heaven (we don’t read Scriptures only as a story but use them as guideposts for our lives). In heaven, the people were raising praise and honor to our God, and these praises are summed up in one word: “Hallelujah!” Verse 1: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.” The words that ring out in heaven are focused solely on God, praises for Christ for what He has done. The people singing His praises are holy and righteous. This holiness and righteousness were given to them; it’s what Christ gave us in Easter. He took away all the sin, pain, sorrow, sickness and in their place, He gave us new life. Verses 7 & 8: “….for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints”.
We just sang “Heal Our Land”. The reason why the country is in the state it’s in is because of the state of the Church. As a people, we go to church but don’t live out what we hear and learn. This is why the Government is corrupt. The Church, its members aren’t serving God. The picture in Revelation is one of the people before the Throne totally involved in God. These are a people who are living out their new lives in God. Psalm 145:5 says, “On the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.” This should be the meditation of our heart – the wonderful works of God in our lives, and not on our pain and difficulties. Verses 2 and 3: “Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord and highly to be praised and His greatness is unsearchable.” Our praises belong to God. Anything missing in our lives is our fault, not His. Our prayer should be, “God, show us that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life”. The right way is not the world’s way. Jesus is the truth.
The Gospel reading picks up from the time when Jesus and His disciples gathered together for the Passover meal. Jesus said that one of them would betray Him, and after He gave Judas the dipped morsel, Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly”. When Judas left, Jesus said to His disciple, “Now is the Son of God glorified, and God is glorified in Him”. Most of us misunderstand what “glory” means. We connote it with something phenomenal, great and fantastic. In the Greek, glory comes with our participation in the plan of God. Jesus knew what was coming – that when He goes to the cross, He would be glorified, not because of what He would suffer, but because He would be submitting to the will of God. Jesus in the flesh was identified as the Son of Man. “The Word became flesh.” He took upon Himself our identity when He became flesh, becoming the Son of Man. In doing so, He didn’t lose His identity but showed us what God gave us as His children. He lived as one of us, in the flesh, showing us that the flesh is holy (and not evil) because it is from God. When Christ rose from the dead, He came back in the same flesh. This flesh went to hell and ascended to heaven, and is now seated with God. This is how sacred this flesh we now have is.
When we live our lives according to the will of God (not doing what we think is right), we will be glorified. When we turn away from God, we get in trouble – we get sick, we sin, fall into depression, etc. – because we still carry His image and we when we turn away from God, we go against our very nature. This is why many of our illnesses are emotion-fed. We have to keep repeating to ourselves that God created us for glory. Origen said that man is the glory of God. Humans can’t be cloned because life comes from only one Source – God. We were created in His image and likeness that we should have so much confidence in what and who we are that we do not allow world affairs to scare us. Out of our innermost being shall flow rivers of living water. Healing comes from the inner man because that’s where God is. Obedience to God gives us the strength, peace and serenity to face head on whatever life throws our way. When Christ went to the cross, He participated in our lives, taking away our sin, pain, sorrow, and illnesses so that we can live glorious lives.
Jesus said that God is glorified in Him, in what He was about to do (go to the cross). One day when we come before the Throne of God, we will have to show what we’ve done with our lives, and not whether we’ve been born again or not. When Moses was instructed by God to build a tabernacle, he obeyed and built the tabernacle according to how God wanted him to build it. As a result of his obedience, God’s glory dwelt in the tabernacle. Coming down from the mountain with the tablets of stone bearing God’s commandments, Moses’ face shone because He was obedient to God and God’s glory showed on his face.
God is present in us, participating in our lives and as a result, we are able to do His will and live our lives according to His plan. As He participates in our lives, so should we participate in His plan for us. The absence of God’s participation in our daily lives will make us miserable. The glory of God must be seen in the lives of man. We must realize that God can change our hearts, turn us away from sin and of failure to glory. Don’t bring up the mistakes of the past. God forgives and restores. We should see that we are being transformed from glory to glory. This is the natural consequence of our participation with God.
John 17:22 “The glory which You have given Me, I have given them, that they may be one, just as We are one.”
2 Corinthians 4:4 “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
Romans 8:29-30 “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified, and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” We are changing everyday, as we participate in the life of Christ. We are progressing, growing from glory to glory. We cannot become righteous on our own. We accept and live out what God gave us.
Are we seeking the will of God, seeking to know Him? We should recognize that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. In the Gospel, Jesus ends with a new commandment. He tells His disciples to love one another as He has loved them. He tells them that this is the only way that all men will know that they are His disciples; not by their miracles of healing or raising the dead, but by their love for one another. Because this is God’s character – LOVE. Loving as He loved us is difficult but not impossible, IF we will allow Him to participate in our lives. Only then can we live our new life in Christ.