The Great Re-Membering
Growing up in a low-income family (back then we called it poor), did not bother me one bit. Life had captivated my imagination. More often than not, the consequences of mischief seemed like a perfectly reasonable trade-off for the adventure of attempting what was expressly forbidden. For reasons now well hidden in my forgettery, I had come to believe that “real men” were expected, perhaps even encouraged, to cause trouble; if not to satisfy their God-given curiosity, then at least, to prove that the rules made sense! This did not always end well. It was many years later, and by God’s unfathomable Grace, it finally dawned on me that how you conduct yourself in the world actually matters!
Psalm 1 was the breakthrough for me. It may well have been the very first meaningful encounter I had with the scriptures – that startling experience where the words seemed to leap off the page to hit you right in the soul. I remember being in awe of its simple beauty. This was clearly an introduction to the importance of human responsibility, but what shook me is that it started with a blessing: “Blessed is the man” the Psalmist muses, seemingly to himself. Then, without hesitation he continues, not with a set of rules, but a series of personal choices: “who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
It was clear to me that this Blessed man was driven by purpose, not rules. The law of God is the ground and substance of truth, not mere human codes of conduct. What the Psalmist is reaching for is not simply moral piety but the ultimate good. In Latin it is called the “summum bonum.” The ultimate virtue, above which there is no higher good. The culmination of all that is free from imperfection or corruption, the light in which there is no shadow of darkness. This goodness, this light became a person and dwelt among us. Emmanuel.
Astounding as this idea may be, God dwelling amongst us as a flesh and bone person, does not cover the sovereign conclusion of the extent of God’s plans for us. If the story had ended there, Jesus would merely be a visitor, an “example to us”, a kind of benevolent but temporary glimpse of what we “should be” but never can aspire to. But then God raised him from the dead, far above anything and everything that could lay claim to authority. Dying our death, Christ dealt with sin (singular) forever. And now seated as the redeemer of all mankind at God’s right hand, he is an example “of us” – not just acquitted but reconciled. Not just forgiven but innocent. Not just saved but included in God’s family, co-heirs of an incorruptible inheritance.
There is no higher good you can aspire to. There is no state of beingness more noble or true. This is who we are in Christ and what we were created for. This is what God intended before time was or Adam fell. This the Truth Jesus offered to the woman at the well, that will become in you, an unquenchable river of living water. Compared to this Truth, all other distractions – money, political crusades, military victories, calls for justice, institutions and technological genius are revealed for what they really are – false centers of misplaced affections. In them, you may find temporary tribal belonging, but there is no truth in them, no nourishment or peace. No future!
Therefore beloved, take time, and consider what God has done, not just for you but “in you”. Re-member that you are not merely dust. Remember that you are God’s inheritance, the love-dream of the Father, Son and Spirit. Remember that you were designed to apply every faculty of your being to put on full display in an earthen vessel, the unspeakable riches of being found in Christ. Contemplate this, soak your soul in it. Gaze upon his face in wonder so that in him you can know who you are.
Pieter van Niekerk
Lifechangers’ Board Chairman