"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The Bloomberg Effect and Christ's Resurrection

The New York Times interviewed former New York City mayor and billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg this week about his increasing efforts to spread gun control laws throughout the United States. The interview was remarkable on several fronts, but what struck me most was how it ended. Bloomberg, 72 years old and facing his own mortality, became quite candid regarding heaven and the after life. Here's how reporter Jeremy Peters recounts the interview with Bloomberg and the billionaire's thoughts on meeting God at the time of his death:
"Mr. Bloomberg was introspective as he spoke, and seemed both restless and wistful. When he sat down for the interview, it was a few days before his 50th college reunion. His mortality has started dawning on him, at 72. And he admitted he was a bit taken aback by how many of his former classmates had been appearing in the “in memoriam” pages of his school newsletter.
But if he senses that he may not have as much time left as he would like, he has little doubt about what would await him at a Judgment Day. Pointing to his work on gun safety, obesity and smoking cessation, he said with a grin: 'I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.'"
 Bloomberg may be in the top 1/10 of 1% when it comes to income, but he's definitely within a larger percentage of people who believe heaven is earned by one's good deeds in this life. We evangelicals who focus so much on the death of Jesus Christ as 'payment for sins' aren't giving any answers to the questions people like Mr. Bloomberg are asking.

The Bloomberg Effect' happens when a great deal of good is done by people in this life, causing them to think, "For heaven's sake, I've done so much good in this life, there's no way God would keep me out of heaven." As Bloomberg says, "It's not even close!" I am reminded of Shakespeare's "Thou protest too much."

It would seem to me if God represents perfect goodness (and His name God is short for 'GOOD'), then perfect goodness becomes the standard.  I only know one Man who was perfectly good. It is the life of this Man, His death and particularly His resurrection that gives us the answer to the question: "How much is good enough for God?"

A fellow named Paul from Tarsus was a pretty good guy. He was at the top of his class, a Pharisee of the Pharisees (that's like saying, 'the elite of the elite'), a person 'zealous for good works' (i.e. "the Law'), and considered by the people in his day a very, very good man according to the cultural standards of the Jews. Yet, Paul came to discover that what makes a person acceptable to God is the righteousness of another. Paul came to the place in his life where He trusted the life of Jesus Christ.

Jesus alone was the Perfect Man. Jesus lived the life all of us should have lived, He died the death all of us deserve to die, and He rose from the grave with this promise: Trust me and I'll freely give you the blessings of my righteousness (God's favor) and I'll freely take from you the consequences of your sins (God's judgment).

Here's how Paul puts it:
"My faith is in Jesus Christ and I no longer trust any good works of my own derived from my obedience to the Law, for I have a righteousness which is found through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I have this through knowing Him and the power of His resurrection..."  (Philippians 3:9,10).
As we focus on the resurrection this season, it would do us all well to remember that the death of Jesus Christ is not what makes Easter remarkable. It's His resurrection. Everyone dies. Jesus is the first-fruits of all who will be raised to life. If death is the 'wages of sin' (and it is), then life is the effect of resurrection (and it is). To trust in the resurrected Jesus means that God grants you the full effects of Jesus' perfect obedience throughout His life. Only perfect and complete obedience to God brings perfect and complete favor from God. Jesus fulfilled it; we faith it.

I've done some good things in this life. There is, however, no need to recount them near my death. I have a peace which passes all understanding because I know that God's unconditional grace to me, His everlasting favor for me, and His immeasurable mercy toward me are all based on the perfect goodness and righteousness of His Son, whom He gave for me. The perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, and all the favor of God because of it, becomes mine through my faith in Jesus life, death and particularly, His resurrection!

That's the meaning of Easter.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I knew this one would make your blog. I have read your blog for years and this is one teachable moment a teacher should really use for a lesson on works based acceptance by God (there is none). I wonder if he really ever thinks about God unless asked a question like that. But, like everyone else on earth there is way to God. Through Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

Let me edit that last sentence. But, for everyone on earth there is provided a way to God. Jesus Christ.

Tom Ross said...

What the mayor showed was a Helenistic understanding of "righteous" in that if I do some things that allow me to call on the name of the Lord, then You God "owe" me and I can walk striaght into heaven. That was the Goat's attritude demonstrated in Matt 25:31ff.

On the other hand the Hebrewic understanding is that I have blessed these around me because if you had of been here you would have done the same thing but I did because you would have done it and it is my way of showing your love that can be read through my life's display. Was that not the way of the sheep in the parable referenced above?

Shalom

Tom

Tovel said...

A good word. And God's word.

Also, http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=god

LoddieR said...

Wayne,

I am always amazed at the simplicity of God’s Word to us. He says so much that is so deep in just a few words. Man, however, will write volumes on those few words often making them complex, mysterious and highly cerebral. But that can result in confusion and doubt leading to uneasiness in the soul. Your messages are simple and to the point which follows the pattern of Christ’s teachings. It was the highly educated and deep thinkers that struggled with Christ’s forthright and simplistic lessons on living a life pleasing to God.

One of my favorite verses from the OT that is pure NT in its execution is Isaiah 30:15, “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.’”

Turning to Christ and resting in Him is our salvation. Quietness of spirit is the greatest medium for trust to grow strong. I believe those who make the most noise in Christian circles are the ones who are struggling in their lives to really trust God. Live Isaiah 30:15 from the NT indwelling Spirit of Christ and you will live a life well pleasing to the Lord.

Christiane said...

I think it takes a great spiritual strength to say ‘Yes’ to the Risen Lord,
and that strength comes not from within our earthly physical selves, but from the God whose image we bear.
The power of discouragement and despair become much lessened in a world where the dead return to life again.

The ancient Scripture that asks us to say ‘YES’ to life, so that we may live is a scripture that reaches far beyond its time and on into the future, and in our own world, we have Life Himself to say ‘YES’ to, and we do this every time we turn in humility toward His light as we turn away from the darkness.
Saying ‘YES’ to the Risen Christ is on-going;
that is what many forget
but saying 'YES' to the Risen Lord is what makes our sojourn
both difficult and also possible.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Very good. Made copies for a ‘Sun-rise Service’.

Our pastor brought out why the disciples had “disbelief” when Jesus appeared to them:
“Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder.” (Luke 24:41 NLT)
They had the human reason that it was ‘too good to be true’.