Merry Christmas from CrossPoint…a post by Rich

We at CrossPoint Ministry wish you all a very Merry Christmas. In a world polarized by and riddled with fear there is no greater message than of the one who is called “Immanuel” God with us. The Christmas story is magnificent in many ways. The angelic announcement to the shepherds of “good news of great joy,” the noble humility of Mary and her words “let it be to me according to your word,” and Joseph’s dream marked by the angelic voice saying, ‘She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” And of course Joseph’s ensuing obedience to what he had heard. The magnificence of the arrival of the one who is “the Son of the Most High” is shrouded in simplicity, obscurity, and poverty.

Christian orthodoxy has for centuries contended that this child in the manger is the Mediator between God and man. He is the Mediator of the created order. All things are created by him, through him and for him. (Col. 1) He is the one in whom “all things hold together.” The very nature of this infant child is the one who creates and sustains all that is! Since the Son of God is the mediator of all creation everything in the created order is structured for relational participation. Nothing exists except through him and for him. Everything that is has his personal touch upon it. As Paul would say, “He is the firstborn over all creation!” God is with us beckoning us in all that is created to see his invitation for connection and communion.

But this God who structures the universe for relational participation seeks personal relational communion for his glory and our good. So the Son of God is born in the fullness of time and will save us from our sin. Sin anchored in mistrust is the great adversary of communion. The Son of God the very outpouring of the love of God comes so that we may each be loved beyond measure and by grace we are given faith to receive life in his name. And this life is eternal life because it is the very life of the Trinitarian God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is with us! He is with us in the depths of our being. His Spirit is permeating our souls ensuring that as sons and daughters of the living God we shall in Christ find the glory of Christmas becoming progressively more and more, “one degree of glory to another” our glory.

So Merry Christmas to you all. Whatever your present lot in life, whether joyful or sad he is doing far more in you than you think or imagine. He is the God who gives gifts that are beyond our comprehension! And so we say, thanks be to God for the Savior of the world, our Savior, has come and is coming.

Sitting Still With Christ…a post by Joy

As we consider the ways of Christian spiritual formation, there is always one particular facet of the journey that mesmerizes and challenges me the most.

The one of “sitting still” before God with the expectation and intention of knowing God. Psalm 46:10 tells us to “Be still and know that I AM God. “

It seems that many Christians are interested in being “busy about the business of God”. Even family life is busy about the “business of family” instead of intentionally taking time to “be still” and know the family member.

Stillness can refer to literally being still or posturing ourselves in a place where we can sense the “distilling” work of Christ within us.

Being still for me can also be a place of being grounded internally in the still unconditional love of Christ even when life is a whirlwind externally.

As a musician, there is always movement of the melody or harmonies in a piece. Yet, there is also the stillness of the rests which call for silence. Though the rest may only be for one beat, we still refer to it as rest, or silence. Sometimes the measured rests have their own rhythm. If we don’t pay attention to the moments of these rests of silence or stillness in the music, we miss the complete picture of what the composer intended us to hear.

We as human beings have the capability of paying attention to either movement within our souls or stillness. Most of us are great at paying attention to this movement or whirling around of the regular living of life from day to day. Yet, we tend to have a more difficult time paying heed to the stillness that comes from the beckoning call of Christ. We are created with the ability to be still within our souls as we pay attention to being with Christ. Christian spiritual formation calls for the both/and of stillness and action: the movement and the rests as it were.

If the stormy sea can understand and obey the words of Jesus when He said, “Peace, be Still”, how can we who are created in His image do less?

 

Red, Yellow, Black and White…a post by Jim

One of my earliest memories from Sunday School is singing, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red, yellow, black and white they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.” The song was about as diverse as we got in the Dutch community of Holland, MI in the late 50s. But it was and IS true. Jesus does love ALL ethnic groups. The trouble is that we find that hard to do.

The recent events of shooting and killing by and of police are tragic. And it appears that race was a factor in the loss of life of civilians as well as the policemen. Jesus loves all the children of the world. Easier to sing than to live. As a culture and as an individual.

Because we are created in the image of a relational God (Father, Son, Spirit) we are relational whether we are red, yellow, black or white. The quality of ALL our lives depends on the quality of our relationships. And not relationships just within our particular color. The quality of ALL of our lives depends on the quality of our relationships across ethnic lines.

It is the power of the Gospel that has made it so that there is no longer Jew or Gentile (or slaves or free or male or female). This does NOT mean there are no differences between races or social status or genders. Christianity is too ‘particular’ a reality to ignore differences (e.g. God showed up in a particular Jewish man; God chose a particular race in the Old Testament through whom to reveal himself). Any attempt for ‘unity’ that ignores or fails to respect differences is doomed to fail.

But there is a unity that is found at the deepest level possible for those who are IN Christ. If he is at the core of our being then, no matter if we are male or female, slave or free, or red, yellow, black or white then there is a new unifying reality for us. What is most true about us is far more powerful than our differences. We cannot expect the world to believe or live this out but we who are followers of Christ MUST believe and live this out.

Today, how can you express the new reality of IN Christ with your brothers and sisters of different ethnic groups?

 

Let the Gospels Define Us…a post by Rich

 

A recent discussion with a pastor led to us considering the question, what do the gospel writers emphasize as the message of Jesus? Did the gospel writers emphasize that Jesus brought a message about life or was it about sin. Our perspective at CrossPoint is that the gospel writers believed that Jesus in inaugurating and establishing the new creation through his life, death, resurrection and ascension was bringing a message of life. Perhaps John is most explicit when he records these words of Jesus, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Jn. 11:25-26 (Jn.3:17,4:13,5:24,6:27,7:38,8:34,10:27-30).

It is true the cross of Christ is Jesus addressing through his substitutionary death our enslavement to sin and God the Father’s judgement of our sin. The truth is all who believe in Jesus are now justified by faith and made children of God. (Rom. 5, Gal. 4) As a result the believer’s life is now hidden in Christ with God (Col.3:3, see also Rom. 6). We can never be separated from the love of God in Christ. (Rom. 8). Our primary attention is now to love God with our whole heart. For some their understanding of loving God has turned into a preoccupation with sin and the naming and repenting of idols. The pastor mentioned above came to realize in light of his preoccupation with sin and repentance that over time he developed a critical and judgmental spirit and was only experiencing more and more anxiety. Inordinate self-preoccupation especially if it is about sin will always prove over time to morph into severe soul-sickness.

We believe at CrossPoint our attention should be on gratitude and joy for the gift of participatory communion in the life of the Trinitarian God, which is eternal life. We believe that if we pursue with all our hearts what is true, good and beautiful God’s Spirit will make clear to us the sin in need of repentance. We see our self most clearly by seeing ourselves more fully in Christ. Our heart’s attention is on our love of the Trinitarian God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In fact, a lover of God will make regular times for confession of sin. But our liturgy does not end with confession of sin and endless idol hunting but with the assurance of pardon, which reminds us we are free to love our Lord and neighbor as best we can. The gospel of Christ is liberating and so sets our hearts on a spiritual journey of thanksgiving, praise, joy and wonder at the fullness of God’s goodness to us in Christ. Yes we live in a world that has lost consciousness of sin, but are we to have our life in Christ defined by the deficiencies of a secularized age or by the words of life and hope in the Gospel? We at CrossPoint say we allow the Gospels to define who we are.

Grounded in Being Loved

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Being loved grounds us. When we are loved we have an essential experience of belonging. An infant in the experience of being loved forms a relational attachment with mom and dad. This relation attachment is essential for physical survival and all future psychological and spiritual development. Without this primitive experience of belonging, of being grounded in love, life will unravel for the child as his or her sense of self begins to fragment. The essential psychological and spiritual need of an infant child is to be loved. Our soul’s deepest sense of being grounded is always anchored relationally!

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Relational God … Relational Beings

Taken from The Relational Soul – We are relational beings because we are created in the image of a relational God. By definition the Christian God exists in relationship as Father, Son, and Spirit. While existing as three distinct Persons they share one divine essence that is described as love (1 John 4:8). God can be love only if God exists as community. The pure love they have for each other is unconditionally giving in its character. The Father gives Himself for the Son and the Son gives Himself for the Father.

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The Divine Encounter

We sustain ourselves in an encounter. It is so because we are created in the image of the Triune God. Father, Son, and Spirit ARE perfect relationship, glorious and holy love. Each cannot BE without the Other. In the likeness of the Truth of divine intimacy each human being is ‘fired’ into life. We find ourselves and maintain ourselves in communion. We must encounter.

The love of the Trinity is absolute (unconditional) and thus utterly free. Divine love does not measure the love of another in terms of how much the other’s love benefits the One doing the loving. God is love and thus is totally free to love.

Such love is impossible for us without grace. The crucifixion of Christ exposes the abyss of our selfishness and sinfulness. All have fallen short of the glory of beings created in God’s image. We are not free to love as God loves. And so God became one of us to show us love, to redeem us so that we can love, to enjoy us in love.

The plausibility of God’s love becomes apparent most clearly in Jesus. He demonstrates the Father and Spirit and the Son as Lovers. The majesty of their love meets us in our brokenness and draws us into inconceivable intimacy. With God and others.

The more we are captured by the beauty of Jesus, the more we are captured and transformed by love. We fulfill the prayer of Jesus in John 17:26–“I have revealed you to them and will keep on revealing you. I will do this so that your love for me may be in them and I in them.” Indeed, we have a holy calling!