Reductive

Have you ever used the word reductive? Merriam Webster’s online dictionary defines it as, “of, relating to, causing or involving reduction.” When you use it in a non-scientific sentence, you are talking about reducing something or someone. I have been thinking about that term in relationship to Jesus.

You see, Jesus claimed to be many things. The most astounding claim He made was that He was in fact, God’s Son, and one with the Father in essence. His words, not mine, “I and My Father are one.” John 10:30 The one cardinal doctrine in mainline Christianity is that Jesus, God’s Son, is in fact, also God.

Any other characterization of Jesus is reductive. Some claim He was a prophet. Some believe He was the finest man who ever lived. Several offshoots of Christianity believe Jesus was an angel. Some Eastern religions believe He was an Avatar, a special being who came to earth to enlighten mankind. None of these definitions are inherently bad, they are just reductive. They reduce Jesus to something less than He claimed to be.

When deciding who Jesus is, we must take His claims seriously. He is either who He claimed to be or He is a liar. There is really no other choice. If you have decided that Jesus is something less than He claimed to be, then please, read the Gospels and make an informed decision. Is He the Son of God, i.e. one in essence with the Father, or not? Any other opinion about who He really was is reductive.

Image by Jeff Jacobs. Courtesy of Pixabay

Comprehend

There are so many things as humans that we do not or cannot comprehend. But just because we cannot comprehend them, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Take the universe for instance. Can any human with his finite mind comprehend the length and breadth of the universe? Can we, as humans, even see into the furthest reaches of the universe? But does our lack of comprehension mean this vast fabulous space does not exist?

What about the subatomic world? Even with all of our strong electron microscopes and our particle accelerators, we still haven’t discovered all there is to know about the quantum world. Does that mean that just because we cannot see or know everything about it, we invalidate its existence? Of course not.

It is the same with God. Just because we cannot see Him or comprehend Him, doesn’t mean He doesn’t exist. As finite beings with finite minds, we were never supposed to be able to comprehend the vastness of the universe or the quantum world. They are examples of the infinite complexities of creation. Yes, creation spoken into existence by a loving Creator.

The very attributes of God are difficult to comprehend but that doesn’t mean they are any less true:

Omniscient – All knowing

Omnipresent – Present everywhere at the same time

Eternal – Without beginning or end of days

All Powerful – Having the power to do anything

As we enter a New Year, let us humble ourselves and acknowledge the existence of a Being greater and more powerful than we are. Let us seek to find out about Him and be willing to ask Him to make Himself known to us.

Surely, He can and will do it if we ask Him to.

Marine Angels on Assignment

It was the early Seventies,  I was going to college at Southern Oregon University. It was a time of great social upheaval and cultural change. I met a girl from California and we became friends. Wendy was a kind and loving person and had a quality of innocence about her. She asked me if I would go with her to see a friend in Arcata, California. I asked her how we were going to get there. She said, “We’ll just hitchhike.”

That didn’t sound too great to me. I had hitchhiked once while at college and it was only for a few miles. That time, a friend and I were riding in the back of a pickup. I didn’t feel safe and did not want to stay in the truck and so my friend and I got out at a stoplight a few minutes down the road. I expressed my doubts to her, but she convinced me to go. Her plan was to only take rides from women. It sounded somewhat logical to my teenage mind and so I went.

At first, everything went well. We got rides from women and were well on our way down the Redwood Highway. Our last ride left us on the road while it was still light. As time passed, no one suitable came by and we were left standing on the side of the road as it began to get dark. We were totally unprepared to spend the night outside and had not taken sleeping bags or blankets to keep us warm. Neither did we take flashlights or matches.

group of solider fall in line

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I was beginning to get worried and was very unhappy that I had chosen to go with Wendy. I’m sure I was thinking that if I ever got out of this situation, I would never hitchhike again. It grew dark and a car stopped. We looked inside and there were two young men with blond hair and crew cuts in the car. They looked different from the students we went to school with. They were very clean cut and looked safe and responsible.

We got in the car; it seemed like our only choice at the time. As we introduced ourselves, they told us they were Marines on leave from Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California. I told them that my brother was a Marine and where he was stationed at the time. Their level of concern for us immediately went up a notch. Because I was the sister of a fellow Marine, they felt an obligation to take us exactly where we needed to go. They wanted to make sure we made it to Arcata safe and sound.

We arrived in Arcata late that night. I slept on the floor of the dormitory where Wendy’s friend was staying. I remember thinking how God had taken care of us by bringing those two young men along that deserted highway at just the right time. Were they actual Marines or God’s angels sent to take care of two very foolish girls? I will never know, but I will always be grateful for the ride they provided and the concern they showed us that night. It is an experience I will never forget.

How about you? Has God provided for you in extraordinary circumstances? I would love to hear your story. I’m sure God’s angels have looked after each and every one of us. They surely walk among us, for as the Scripture says, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” Hebrews 13:2.