From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Twenty-Two, Day Four
Like the Father, Jesus is God. He always was, always is, and always will be. But unlike the Father, Jesus is also a human being. Though charged with blasphemy and crucified for claiming to be one with the Father, Jesus' resurrection validates his claim to be God's Son in a unique way. When we confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God, we share in the love the Father has for the Son, becoming adopted children of God.
Though Jesus was the Son of God, he was also the Son of Man, a title that emphasizes both his lowliness and his eventual dominion. Near the end of his life, when the high priest asked him whether he was the Son of God, Jesus no longer avoided the title but said that he would one day "see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven" (Matthew 26:64).
When you pray to Jesus as Son of God and Son of Man, you are praying to the One who is your Brother and your Lord.
"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven." Matthew 16:15-17
Praying the Name
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. . . .
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 3:1-4; 4:9-12
Reflect On: 1 John 3:1-4; 4:9-12.
Praise God: For calling us to become his children through faith in his Son.
Offer Thanks: Because God loved you before you ever thought of loving him.
Confess: Any failures to love others as Christ has loved you.
Ask God: To shape you into the image of his Son.
I am a news junkie. I love listening to the radio, reading the paper, and watching news channels on TV. But a steady diet of it does nothing to stoke my optimism. Often it steals my peace. To curb my appetite for it, I've relegated our television set to a room in the basement that I call the TV pit. The room is so small, unattractive, and uncomfortable that I rarely spend time there. But even without watching TV, it's hard to avoid headlines that break your heart and make you wonder about the future.
Last week's news focused on cleanup efforts in the city of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The one word that kept surfacing was "debris." Over and over, people talked not about cleaning up their houses, restoring their furniture, or repairing their automobiles, but only about getting rid of all the "debris," because in many cases that's all that was left. Every beautiful and useful thing acquired over the course of a lifetime had been suddenly transformed into a whole lot of debris. Tragically, even the bodies that floated in the flooded streets immediately following the hurricane looked like nothing but toxic debris.
I couldn't help looking around at the things I love in my own home, like the down-filled sofa I bought from a friend, the rows of books (some of them autographed by their authors) that fill my bookshelves, or the splash of white calla lilies that brighten a corner of the living room. All of these and more would sooner or later be reduced to rubbish. And though it crossed my mind, I didn't have the nerve to look in the mirror and speculate about what would someday happen to the face that looked back at me.
I have felt in this year of disasters — from tsunamis to hurricanes to earthquakes — that surely God must be speaking, reminding us urgently of truths we daily forget. That material goods aren't as important as we think they are. That life can change in an instant. That none of us will live forever. That now is the time to seek him.
But what does it mean to seek Jesus, whose favorite title for himself was the Son of Man? One of the things it means is to seek to be like him, because Jesus shows us humanity as it is ultimately meant to be. As the Son of Man Jesus is the ideal Human Being. While on earth Jesus lived with an unbroken connection to the Father. Because we are united to him through the Holy Spirit, we can enjoy this same intimate connection to our Father in heaven.
It sounds good in theory, but what does it mean in practical terms? What does it mean when you have yelled at your kids for the umpteenth time, as I did this morning? Or when you are party to a messy divorce? Or when you are struggling with an addiction? Or when you have just lost your job? What does it mean when you are weary, frustrated, and confused? It means that you take whatever mess you are in and bring it to straight to Jesus, desperately praying for his mercy.
It means you open your soul to his healing, cleansing grace. It means that you count on him because you cannot count on yourself. Join me today in yielding to God's Spirit, who is at work to rehabilitate the image of Christ within us. Remember that your soul is the only indestructible thing about you. Everything else is fragile, temporary, passing. Then pray for the first five people you meet today, that God will open their eyes to what really matters in this world.
Two of Ann Spangler's most-loved books have been released in paperback: Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus.
These books help us understand the biblical context in which these names and titles were revealed, and help us gain a more intimate knowledge of the Father and of the Son.