By John McNeil
A personal interpretation of the Apostle's Creed.
I believe that there is only one God.
He is my Father. He knows all about me, because he created me to take on his nature, to grow up to be like him one day.
Even before I was born he was planning my days, and as they unfold he knows all about me: My faults, my strengths, my desires. And yet, knowing all this, he loves me as his dearest child - sometimes with a disciplining hand, sometimes with an arm cradled to provide the shelter I need to lick my wounds.
I call him Abba Father - Daddy.
My Father is the most powerful person in the universe. He just has to say the word, and worlds leap to his command. You know, one day he spoke and this planet earth came into existence by his word. And it is his word and his authority alone that keeps it together. He was the one who designed and built such tiny things as atoms and molecules, and such grand things as this solar system and huge galaxies almost beyond the reach of our most powerful telescopes.
He is fearful in battle when he unleashes his anger against his enemies, and then even the rocks and trees hide their face in terror at his going forth. I'm glad he's my father. Yet that same hand of power is so tender and gentle - one day he sat down and made a whole world of things like butterful wings and dandelion fluff and green moss. Whoever would have thought that someone so powerful would have been bothered with things like that. Not only those, but things I can't see or touch he made, too. Like the love between man and woman, the protectiveness I feel towards my son and daughter, and the security and peace I have in my Father's presence.
My Father also has his own special son, Jesus, who is the Christ, the one we longed for down through the ages to save us, knowing deep down we could not save ourselves.
Jesus - you who always existed, at the right hand of our Father. There never was a time when you did not exist, and share his majesty and power. Like the day when this earth had its beginnings: Our Father gave the commands, and you were the one who brought it into being, who moulded and fashioned its details with care and attention, knowing even then that one day it was going to be your home for a brief time.
Jesus - your whole nature is light, driving out the darkness that threatens my life, holding up a beacon for the path ahead, shining in our hearts. Because our world had fallen into such darkness, you were delighted to give up all the glory and honour you hold in Heaven. For my sake you were happy to be stripped of your Heavenly position and come to this world, to provide that way into God's presence that we had no right to ourselves.
By the work of the Holy Spirit you came to us as a baby, born to Mary who had not yet known a man that she might give birth to God as man.
Jesus - you were our light, and yet we preferred darkness. You offered us God, and showed us his love, but we preferred hate. We would not accept your claim to be the Lord of Creation, because it threatened our independence. So we the creation destroyed our Creator hung you up as a common criminal on a cross, not knowing it was to pay the penalty for that defiance and independence we grasp so dearly that you willingly gave away your life.
But how can death hold life? How can the grave contain the one who is the source of life? And in three days - just as you had been warning us through your prophets for thousands of years - your life burst apart the chains of death, that you could return to take again the glory that is rightfully yours at the right hand of our Father.
We live in the sure hope that you are going to return yet again to this world - this time not as a baby in humiliating circumstances, but as the living lord of all creation, in majesty and might, before whom all will bend their knee and at long last give honour to the one they refused for so long.
At that time you will fully establish and complete the kingdom you introduced so long ago, judging those still alive after this fearsome time, and those who have died before.
Lord, I want to be part of your kingdom, not just then, but right now. Enter into me, Christ Jesus set up your throne and rule in my heart and life.
This is your doing, dear Holy Spirit - the patient worker in men's hearts and spirits. Together with my Father and my Lord Jesus, you were there doing your painstaking work of creation when this world was formed, and you still brood so lovingly over our lives. You were the midwife at my new birth when I first gave myself over to the lordship and rule of Jesus, and now you are my teacher and guide. Your presence within me is the guarantee that I am no longer a citizen of this world, but of the Kingdom of Heaven.
I worship you, I give you glory, just as those men of God whom you have spoken through down the long ages gave you glory and worship.
In your sight there are no priorities of place based on race or state of birth, there is no worth in the world's wealth or prestige. You call to all of us equally, and reduce us all to the same level - in need of Jesus. This is why your living church is essentially the same no matter what label we try to put up at the door. The only label you recognise is the same now as 3000 years ago in that land of Egypt on the night of sacrifice: Washed in the blood of the Lamb.
You have called out and anointed your messengers, your apostles, to take this good news around the world, baptising men as a sign that in Christ our sins are forgiven, and that in the one who has broken the power of death eternal life is offered as a free gift of God.
In the face of all this, what can I do but worship too giving praise with grateful heart, and echoing the final words to the church that you speak through your prophet and servant, John:
Surely I am coming soon.
Amen, come, Lord Jesus.
© John McNeil 1980
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