Posts Tagged ‘two-edged sword’

photograph by Angelica Cotos

Whether it’s angels, prophets, or the “son of man” speaking to a human, at least seventy times in scripture, they each instruct people not to fear. A clue: their appearances and proximity must be downright terrifying, and I infer, equally hard for the human to describe or process. What is happening to me?

Revelation 1:17-18
When I [John] saw him [“someone like a son of man”], I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

God is so different from us and even Jesus, who walked as human among us for those short 30 +/- years, altered after his resurrection. Oh, I know, most paintings or prints of his resurrected self show him looking pretty normal, but I’m thinking that normality was only during his 40 days on earth before he finally ascended [see Acts 1:3]. After that, I think he went on to a different manifestation, perhaps more like his transfiguration on the high mountain with Peter, John & James [Matt 17:1-13 & Mark 9:2-13]. Here is a whisper of the brilliance and light, power and energy, the “otherness” of the Christ.

Years ago, I used to joke with my husband that I wouldn’t go on a mission trip to some remote or dangerous place unless Jesus sat on my bed and told me to go. It was a silly way to insist that mission work was not for me. Eventually, I did travel to Africa and I’m grateful Jesus didn’t have to go to one of those extremes to get my “buy-in.”

Transfigured appearances of the Christ are significant. Anyone who has had a supernatural experience should know. And I’m guessing the phenomenon would be no less terrifying to us today. I would have strong doubts of any story was told otherwise. God light encompasses and penetrates the soul.

When John heard a voice and turned to look at its source (verses 12-16), he describes what he saw as best he could: 7 lampstands, “someone like a son of man” (which I interpret to mean that he looked human-like but not completely) who appeared to be dressed in white with blazing eyes, glowing feet and a voice that sounded like rushing waters (very loud, in case you haven’t stood by a mountain stream lately). John lost all composure and collapsed to the ground. Would I do any better?

And yet, this bright one, touched John and spoke, “Do not be afraid.” Everything John saw and felt gave him fear. It was all outside his experience; it made the mountaintop transfiguration seem like nothing.

John also described a two-edged sword coming out of the Christ’s mouth. There is nothing appealing to me about an image like that. I have seen artists depict this sword and it gives me the creeps. As I ponder the idea of a two-edged sword that cuts through anything and everything, back and forth, one swath at a time, I imagine, instead, John experiencing the truth of his life uncovered and revealed. Whatever the self-deceptions had been were exposed. The sword, the breath, the light, cuts away the dross.

And perhaps, then, the fear is not just from the presence of a holy God but from the impact that holiness has on us. The bonus is that Christ embraces us all the same.

The mystery of the sacrifice, once and for all, allows us into the Presence. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit recognizes God and vice versa.

Do not be afraid of the two-edged sword and its revelations. Do not be afraid of the Light that illuminates us both within and without. Do not be afraid of Spirit that transfigures us. Selah.

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What is the Word? Some say it is the Christ Himself, some say it is the “whole of divine revelation” and some say it is the Gospel message. There is agreement however, that this Word is an instrument of disclosure and exposure.

Hebrews 4:12a, 13
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, . . . Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

My first image is that of Adam and Eve who are the first to experience the penetrating power of “the Word.” Not long after the eating of the notorious “apple,” God comes seeking them in the garden, calling out even, “Where are you?” They hide. We are still trying to hide today.

People smile at the ludicrous behavior of Adam and Eve, after all, how can they expect to hide from their all-knowing, all-seeing God? And yet, we believe we can cover up our own sins, thoughts, and actions. We put fig leafs on our brains and our hearts.

I think God knows all along what is happening within. The real problem is getting Human to face the truth of ourselves.

People have asked me why we should bother to pray if God knows everything and I maintain that prayer is really about our own discoveries. What is important? What is a hindrance? Where are we kidding ourselves? What is the desire of the heart?

Sometimes, God uses the Christ through the Holy Spirit to cut through the bull crap with a sword — the sword of truth. Like the “refining fire” that burns up the dross of our hearts, so the sword must sometimes cut away the dead stuff that prevents us from growing and healing. Like irrigating an infected the wound, it may hurt in the process, but the repair will move more swiftly later on.

Lord, I embrace your Word and your Sword.

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