For people who experience the grace of God in their lives, fresh starts begin not with what we resolve to do but what God has already done for us in Christ. New beginnings in the Christian life begin at the finish line-the place where Jesus accomplished all that was necessary to give us life and make us right with God once for all. Hearing Jesus’ bold declaration afresh is how we should start the new year: “It is finished!”
There’s a longing in every one of us for nearness to God, intimacy with God, access to God, contact with God. Our hearts wonder together with Joan Osborne: What if God was one of us? If God had a name, what would it be? If God had a face what would it look like? Matthew 1 gives us answers those questions: God did become one of us as a Jewish baby. His name was Jesus, and he would be the King, Mediator, and Savior of sinners.
Last words are always significant. King David, instead of leaving his people with words looking back, he gives them words for the future. A glimpse into a Kingdom of righteousness and life; justice and prosperity—a Kingdom that David’s greater descendant -Jesus Christ -would bring about. And, so he leaves them with more than last words– he leaves them with hope.
We are very prone to love in theory only, instead of like Jesus in Word and Deed. The Bible teaches that holding together both the Word (proclamation of Jesus), and the Deed (demonstration), are critical—words without deeds are powerless, and deeds without words are meaningless. The permanent office of the Diaconate in the church reminds us that we must love in deed.
Is it possible to love someone too much? In a sense, yes. But, in the end when our love for someone compromises our love for God, we really have ceased to love them. David is facing this. His love for his son is challenging his ability to live well for God: to love boldly, live gratefully and long righteously.
The idea of repentance brings to mind for many words like: regret, admitting mistakes, making atonement. But, these fall short of the Bible’s understanding. One of the reasons they fall short is that they fail to lead to renewal—a new start, freedom from guilt, joy. In the Old Testament books of 1 & 2 Samuel, two kings fall, but only one experiences renewal—because only one understands repentance.
How can a man who wrote inspired songs to God, resisted vengeance when his very life was threatened, achieved great successes for God, fall into the worst immorality in matter of seconds? In the Life of David we’re confronted with this question and the reality that every one of our hearts is more vulnerable than we care to admit. In the fall of David we’re reminded of what the Bible has taught all along, there is only One Savior which can deliver us.
Is there anything for which you feel so strongly, that its’ threat would lead you to fight to the death? Paul feels this way about the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is so unique and counterintuitive to human nature that it is always under threat. But, if we lose the gospel we lose our only hope for desperate people.
David was a warrior, king and artist—musician and songwriter. We sing about what captivates us. David is captivated with the character and deeds of God—a God worth singing to. Can you say the same about your God?
Ironically, in an age of instant messaging and cell phones, we long more than ever for the company of the people who matter most, including the One we were made to in friendship with – God Himself.