My Lord, My God
“Prayer begins at the moment when, instead of thinking of a remote God, ‘He’, ‘The Almighty’, and so forth, one can think in terms of ‘Thou,’ when it is no longer a relationship in the third person but in the first and second persons’” (Metropolitan Anthony Bloom).
What do you think of the Messiah? Christ asked this question to the Pharisees. How would you answer? Is the Messiah an idea to you? Is he an aloof deity in the clouds, a clockmaker, who gets the universe going and sits back to watch? Is he a personal acquaintance, perhaps your most intimate companion? Where do you stand in your relationship with Christ? I hope this question keeps you up at night.
“‘What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?’ They said to him, ‘The son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet’”? (Matthew 22:41-46).
This starts out as a theological question, but quickly becomes much more. The Pharisees were expecting a Messiah, but they did not understand who he would be. They wanted a political hero, a prince and warrior who would enslave non-Jewish nations and make Jerusalem capitol of the world. God had something else in mind. He is interested in the heart and eternity. The true Messiah is not one more political despot with bigger guns than the other despots. He is God incarnate — God come down as one of us, to unite us to Him.
The Pharisees had read all the right books. They graduated from the Harvards and Stanfords of their time. Yet, despite their pedigrees, they were stupid. This should not be hard for us to understand. We live in the Information Age, and our biology professors cannot tell the difference between boys and girls. The brain is worthless with an atrophied heart.
“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him. He is not able to understand them because they are discerned spiritually” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
King David encountered Jesus Christ hundreds of years before he was born. Moses, Isaiah, Hosea, and the prophets of old all knew the Messiah, though they had not met him in the flesh. The babylonian magi discovered Christ simply by looking into the stars. The Shepherds discerned him in the quiet of the meadows. Blessed Symeon recognized him, while holding him as a baby in swaddling clothes.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8).
How can we know Jesus Christ? We must become pure.
Metropolitan Anthony Bloom wrote a wonderful little book called Beginning to Pray. It is book that many priests and bishops read every year, and we should probably all follow their lead. How do we pray? We begin with silence:
“Begin with the silence of the lips, with the silence of the emotions, the silence of the mind, the silence of the body…[by] learning to keep still, to let tenseness go, not to fall into daydreaming and slackness, but to use the formula of one of our Russian saints, to be like a violin string, wound in such a way that it can give the right notes, neither wound too much to breaking point, nor too little so that it only buzzes. And from then onwards we must learn to listen to silence, to be absolutely quiet, and we may, more often than we imagine, discover that the words of the Book of Revelation come true: ‘I stand at the door and knock’.”
It is no wonder that so many today struggle to believe in God. We are too stimulated and too intoxicated to hear anything at all. Our bellies are too stuffed and our senses too overwhelmed to be sensitive to God’s quiet, steady knock on the soul.
Once we find God, we must keep him close.
Listen to the way King David refers to God. “David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord.” “My Lord.” “My God.” “My Shepherd.” This is the intimate talk between close companions.
Anthony Bloom continues: “Unless we can find the right name for God, we have no free, real, joyful, open access to Him. As long as we have to call God by general terms like ‘The Almighty,’ ‘The Lord God’, as long as we have got to put ‘the’ before the word to make it anonymous, to make it a generic term, we cannot use it as a personal name. But there are moments when the sacred writers, for instance, burst out with something which has the quality of a nickname…Remember the psalm in which, after more restrained forms of expression, suddenly David bursts out, ‘You, my Joy!’ That is the moment when the whole psalm comes to life.”
So how would we answer Jesus Christ?
“What do you think of the Messiah?”
Is our life focused enough?
Do we spend enough time with Him, that we can say, truly, “You, My Joy”?
May God teach us to pray.