Thursday, December 8, 2022

Surpassing the Ordinary

My small group at church is going through the abridged book, What Does it Mean to Fear the Lord? by Michael Reeves. This evening, in the chapter centering on our response to God the Creator, Reeves writes,

“. . . the knowledge of God as a humble, gracious, and compassionate Redeemer beautifies the sight of his transcendent majesty as Creator” (p. 38).

The main argument of the chapter is that this type of “right” fear of the Lord must include both a fear of God the Creator and of God the Redeemer.

At the beginning of Genesis we have God the Creator. Everything He makes He calls good. But it is not long before sin enters the world (through human choice) and God begins to roll out His plan for Redemption. Each foreshadowing, each step closer to Christ expands our view of God’s intricate artistry—His weaving together of time and space, people and promise, sorrow and courage, miracle and mundane.

Until we find ourselves at Advent, re-reading the story of the Nativity, and wondering at the Mind that metered out just the right rhythm for the birth of His redeeming grace.

At the heart of Advent is this “beautifying” sense of wonder. With modern holiday lens, we call the quaint stable, the loyal shepherds, the meek and mild virgin girl, the census-swarmed town of Bethlehem all “beautiful.” But at the time, the unfolding story appeared as a crazy plan only thinkable in God’s upside-down economy.

Surpassing the ordinary. Outside of common experience or perception.

I don’t know about you, but I am abundantly thankful (especially at Advent) that God is a transcendent Creator and Redeemer. From Christ’s birthplace and parentage to the first lowly visitors, and back through a lineage of unlikely characters, the Lord has been confounding both the mighty and the wise since the beginning of time.

Something deep within Mary recognized this as she sang the Magnificat:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

- Luke 1: 46-55

Before meeting the Angel Gabriel and hearing his message of promise, it’s likely that Mary revered and feared the Lord as Creator. But something miraculous changed within her spirit as she said Yes to God’s plan. Her understanding of God’s character expanded, and He became Redeemer. A God with the power, humility, and compassion to make all things new.

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