"Oh come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!"
About a year ago I made it through Tolstoy's "War and Peace." One scene in particular was unforgettable.
The main character, Pierre, is in the Russian army, at the battlefront. The Czar, emperor of Russia, has come to rally his soldiers for battle. Pierre is simply overcome with devotion for his emperor. He spurs his horse directly past the Czar's reviewing stand with such fine form that the emperor notices, singles him out, and calls out a commendation after him. At that moment Pierre's heart nearly bursts with emotion. Right then he was ready to hurl himself at the enemy. No sacrifice was too great. Pierre was ready to give his life for his Czar.
The other day, while listening to Handel's setting of Isaiah 9:6, the thought occurred to me that Pierre's emotion is the kind of devotion we should feel toward our great King:
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called WONDERFUL, COUNSELOR, THE MIGHTY GOD, THE EVERLASTING FATHER, THE PRINCE OF PEACE."
This is the Conquering King Jesus Who "Abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel." (1Tim 1:10)
Our King got up in the synagogue at Nazareth and proclaimed "Good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, liberty for the oppressed and a year of Jubilee;” and then made it clear He was the One called by God to carry out this deliverance. Folks in His hometown was so incensed they tried to throw Him over the cliff. (Luke 4)
I believe Jesus' Kingdom is the stone uncut by human hands in Daniel 2 that smashes all earthly kingdoms to dust and becomes a great mountain that fills the earth.
This is not just a future reality. I think it's already happened and is happening right now. Jesus has already broken the tyranny of Satan's rule. His Kingdom already stands over all earthly Kingdoms. Millions and millions of people have already found their Messiah King, have surrendered to Him and entered His Kingdom as citizens of another world and their highest allegiance is to that world.
Because of His victory, millions of people already "Are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us," and already enjoy the "glorious liberty of the children of God," to a degree at least. They have been made free by the Son of God and are "free Indeed."
Jesus' Kingdom is not only "counter-culture," it's "other culture," entirely of a different nature than this world. This means His followers should not put a lot of stock in political movements even if those movements momentarily seem to favor righteous causes.
What does Jesus victory mean in practical reality for us today?
First, we can have great hope in a world of brokenness and despair. Through His victory over Satan, sin and death, our King made reconciliation with God possible. Through a spiritual rebirth of the human personality, a person can now become a child of God, and a citizen in His Kingdom.
"To all who did receive Him, (Jesus) who believe in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born not of (human descent) but of God. Truly I say unto you, unless one is born again, he cannot see or enter the Kingdom of God." (John 1:12-13, 3:3,5)
The idea of a spiritual rebirth for people shouldn't be considered any more fantastic or impossible than the natural conception and birth of a human baby.
I believe I'm speaking for the countless people who've experienced this: One can perceive this spiritual rebirth just as surely as one can be aware of his physical existence as a human being.
A whole new realm of spiritual awareness and a connectedness to God becomes a reality, bringing inexpressible joy and peace to one's interior life. Jesus called this eternal life.
I encourage anyone reading this who hasn't experienced the rebirth Jesus taught---seek it!
Secondly, Jesus' victory means that all who experience the rebirth of God's Spirit now have His power available to overcome the sinful behavior that brings so much disorientation, despair and emptiness. Jesus's life is transferred to us, and by staying connected to Him, we can live by His power and overcome Satan, sin and ultimately death, just as He did. A person with this kind of freedom and joy will find his heart bursting--once in a while at least--with exalted devotion for his Emperor just as did Pierre!
This is the message I'd like to give to you, my dear friends in Christ and prayer-mates. I know this message is 2,000 years old, but it still works! May it become new and exciting for us this Christmas season!
And now for the more mundane...
My cellie makes great tortilla wraps. I share his recipe: Kookin' Karl's Terrifica Tortillas. (Makes 4-5)
Lay out tortilla wraps on (hopefully) clean table. Spread liberally with chili con queso cheese spread. Cut up 1/2 honey pepper turkey log. (Vacuum sealed turkey sausage) Mix cut up chunks of turkey log in with 1 pack ramen noodle soup mix in bowl. Add very small amount of hot water, stir and mix. Put soup and turkey log mix down the middle of tortilla. Lay slices of mozzarella and cheddar cheese on top of soup and meat mix. (You can grate the cheese if you can find a decent sink drain screen to use as a grater) Squeeze a nice bead of mayonnaise right down the middle. Place 4 pieces of specially prepared dill pickle* on top of everything; fold tortilla, wrap in paper towel and place on hot water radiator for twenty minutes while mouth waters like crazy. Thank God and enjoy!! (A Pepsi adds to the joy.) These wraps really are good!
*Dill pickle preparation: take one very large dill pickle out of package, cut up and put in empty peanut butter jar along with the pickle juice. Add 1/3 jar honey and two tablespoons of Louisiana Hot Sauce. Close lid tightly and shake like mad. Put jar inside locker for several days amongst the socks. Open and enjoy very flavorful pickle! Great on Kookin' Karls Terrifica Tortillas.
Love and prayers, from a fellow pilgrim,
Ken Miller 08464-082
Federal Correctional Complex
P.O. Box 1000
Petersburg, VA 23804