In His Image

The Way
A “peace that passes all understanding.”
"Light of the World” by Nathan Greene, © 2004, All Rights Reserved, Used By Permission

JESUS, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
Composer, Charles Wesley; vocalist, Steve Darmody

“Light of the World” by Nathan Greene, © 2004, All Rights Reserved, Used By Permission

“…Because of His great love for us,
God, who is rich in mercy,
made us alive with Christ, even when we
were dead in transgressions—
it is by grace
you have been saved.”
Ephesians 2:4, 5

“The Universe is beyond…interesting, beyond… mesmerizing. It’s the total of non-knowledge of that black. But in that moment, the sun shining in my face, all it was, was palpable blackness–ugly, evil, ominous blackness.

“…I was hit in the face with that, and then I was hit in the face with the beauty, and the gentleness and the nurturing of the Earth. And I saw death and I saw life–for me as well as for the Earth. And I felt such sadness, empathy, sorrow for the Earth. The Earth is less bright than it used to be…

“…I know the death and destruction that’s going on; one species, millions of species are disappearing. The beauty of the Earth that fostered all this gorgeous stuff, this intricate gorgeousness of life following life is disappearing, and it will disappear–at least we, as witnesses will disappear.

“And I wept for that too. And when I landed, I was so filled with that emotion of life and death of everything and the sorrow for the planet, I was overwhelmed and it took me 15-20 minutes before I could recapture myself.”

A 90-year-old William Shatner recalled his deep emotions
after returning from a brief visit to the edge of space, October 13, 2021.Sensing the “ugly, palpable blackness” of space in sharp contrast with the ‘beauty” and “gentleness” of a sadly deteriorating Earth, the legendary “Captain Kirk” shed some tears.

A ninety-year-old William Shatner experienced a deep emotional reaction following his brief visit to the edge of space, October 13, 2021. The legendary “Captain Kirk” shed a few tears after being exposed to the “ugly, palpable blackness” of space compared to the “beauty” but sadly deteriorating condition of Planet Earth.

“The Universe is beyond…interesting, beyond… mesmerizing. It’s the total of non-knowledge of that black. But in that moment, the sun shining in my face, all it was, was palpable blackness–ugly, evil, ominous blackness.

“…I was hit in the face with that, and then I was hit in the face with the beauty, and the gentleness and the nurturing of the Earth. And I saw death and I saw life–for me as well as for the Earth. And I felt such sadness, empathy, sorrow for the Earth. The Earth is less bright than it used to be…

“…I know the death and destruction that’s going on; one species, millions of species are disappearing. The beauty of the Earth that fostered all this gorgeous stuff, this intricate gorgeousness of life following life is disappearing, and it will disappear–at least we, as witnesses will disappear.

“And I wept for that too. And when I landed, I was so filled with that emotion of life and death of everything and the sorrow for the planet, I was overwhelmed and it took me 15-20 minutes before I could recapture myself.”

*****

Apart from the havoc of global warming, melting polar ice and polluted oceans, moral and sacred traditions seem up for grabs. Greedy merchants of hate plant seeds of killing fields, thumb noses at the rule of law, and perform cowardly acts of rage and retaliation in self-serving quests for wealth and power. Cultures of free and independent people, anchored in the Judeo/Christian principle that “all men are created equal,” teeters on the brink of collapse.

Two thousand years ago, Roman citizen, Saul of Tarsus, now Paul the Apostle, the “born again” Christian and courageous advocate of “The Way,” foresaw what Shatner had sensed. Paul painted a dismal word picture.

“But mark this: there will be terrible troubles in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.” II TIMOTHY 3: 1-5 This dire condition inflicting the end-time Earth is a direct result of the conduct of its human inhabitants.

“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” ROMANS 3:23. However gross the criminal conduct of an evildoer, all human sinners, experiencing genuine sorrow for evil behavior, have been offered opportunity to upgrade their lives and have shameful resumes stricken from the record.

The option is personal, an either/or choice. There is no mister in-between.

The miraculous transformation of a corrupt human to a “born again” Christian finding that “peace that passes all understanding,” requires personal prayer for Divine help as with David’s humble plea:“Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.” PSALM 51:10

The Apostle Paul, the onetime Saul, understood this revolutionary moral transition from personal experience. A stalwart character, he had embarked on a mission to exterminate the “heretical” sect viewed as followers of “The Way.” While traveling the road to Damascus, intent on his mission, the resurrected Christ confronted him in person. Not only did his personal life changed drastically but he joined the leadership that introduced Christianity to a pagan world beyond the borders of Israel. With gentiles joining the fledgling Church, followers of “The Way” in Antioch became known to the world as “Christians.”

Paul did more than anticipate Earth’s end-time dilemma. He presented a message of hope for mankind, built on the power of love. He delivered a message of “faith, hope and love,” while making clear, “the greatest of these is love.”

To leave no doubt, he defined the deep emotion of love as something greater than an abstract noun or verb. Love is a passionate, living force that permeates every fiber of a human’s physical and spiritual being. A living love motivates all thoughts and actions instinctively.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”GALATIANS 5:22, 23 “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience…Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” COLOSSIANS 3:12,13

“Forgive” as a component of “love” sets a high bar for those carrying Christian credentials. Christ confirmed the priority of forgiveness by word and example. The Lord’s prayer includes “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Just before His death on the cross, He was heard to say, “Father, forgive them, for they known not what they are doing.”

The familiar words of John 3:15. “God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son” can be so familiar and taken for granted that the rich, deep love emotion of the Father can be obscured in finite mins. Its’ difficult for humans to begin to imagine the heart-wrenching, emotional agony sensed by the heavenly Father, the Almighty creator of the universe, watching the crucifixion of His Son in order to offer a second chance to rebels who had rejected His perfect love.

Paul saw the ten commandments, carved on the two tables of stone, as a translation of God’s perfect character of love and justice, in terms mankind could comprehend. He understood that a living, walking, breathing daily example of that transcendent perfection in a human life exemplified obeying the ten commandments. This was the law made real by being written in the human heart.

John, the Revelator, describes end time saints as “those who obey the commandments of God and remain faithful to Jesus” REVELATION 14:12 He recognizes “born again” Christians as those who live God’s commandments, written in their hears.

Humans choosing the path to abundant living and that “peace that passes all understanding” are empowered by the identical Holy Spirit that hung the moon and created original life on Earth. “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” GENESIS 1:2

The presence of the Holy Spirit guiding the new ID, enables the growth in grace that rebuilds character in the image of God, during a lifetime. Christians are judged by the direction taken, not the occasional good or bad deed. At every step of the way, while walking in “The Way,” the life of a Christian is covered by the absolute righteousness of Christ. Thanks to Christ’s robe of righteousness, a Christian is judged righteous at all times during life, and after death.

Those embracing “The Way” discover the comfort of a relationship with a multitude of others, each of whom are in different phases of walking in the footsteps of Christ. Thanks to the love built into their hearts, long-timers walking the righteousness route, encourage newcomers rather than criticize occasional shortfalls.

The power for each step taken comes from access to God through private, and sometimes silent, prayer. Reaching out to God should be as though speaking to a friend. Paul’s suggestion to “pray continually” I Thessalonians 5:17 reminds that contact with God is available 24/7.

Vast numbers of deceived evildoers who reject the second chance offer of a new life, reject God’s love, forgiveness and promise of abundant living today with a guaranteed forever life tomorrow when Jesus returns to make all things new.

Self-righteous pretenders, posing under cosmetic cover of a ritualized, religious sounding brand name, can’t con the righteous judge. Forget the fancy titles, the long, pompous prayers, the arrogant dismissal of the impoverished and less privileged. The Creator of the universe sees through phony, make-belief faith.

The words of Jesus, preserved in Matthew 25 makes clear there are but two categories of humans when Christ returns and judgment day rolls around: “evildoers” and Matthew 25 Christians who live out God’s ten commandments in their daily lives and “remain faithful to Jesus.”

Warren LeRoi Johns