REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Jabez Yeo who is now a friend of AMI, was first posted on June 5, 2016. He is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (B.S.) and Columbia International University where he studied Islam (M.A.).
Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend
“I Want You to Surpass Me!”
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
John the Baptist, when told that his younger cousin Jesus, whose ministry began later than him, was baptizing more people, said, “He must become greater; I must become less” (Jn. 3:30). It is always heartwarming when you see a teacher or a coach who sincerely wants his student and player to surpass him. That’s also what happened with respect to the main actors who dealt with another heresy in the early church.
As the church entered the 4th century A.D., it continued to fight against heresies that were similar but subtler than adoptionism (i.e., the belief that Christ was adopted as God’s son at His baptism). One such heresy was Arianism, which proposed that while the Trinity was made of three “divine beings,” only one, the Father, was without beginning and truly God. Arianism relied heavily on Greek philosophy, which believed that any change for God was improper, for to change is always for better or worse. Thus, Arius did not believe that Jesus was fully divine because “if Jesus is the incarnation of the Logos and if the Logos is divine, then God’s nature would be changed by the human life of Jesus.”
In response, Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, noted that if Arianism was true, true divinity did not unite with humanity in Jesus and, thus, humanity is not saved. Furthermore, Alexander used Arianism’s arguments against itself, stating that Arianism denied the “immutability of the Father by saying that He was not always Father but only became so by creating a son after some time.” Through the efforts of Alexander and other theologians, the Nicene Creed was formed to guard orthodox belief against Arianism.
Surprisingly, Alexander’s main contribution to fighting Arianism was not through his words but through his lifestyle of discipleship. Church history details that Alexander once saw children imitating certain church rites and that the “baptizing bishop” amongst them was a young boy named Athanasius. Alexander decided to take Athanasius under his wing, and a life-long friendship began that was filled with godly instruction. Athanasius would soon become the theological superior of his mentor and was used by God to hammer the final nails in the coffin of Arianism.
As Christians today, we must never forget the importance of discipleship. Let’s pray that God would use us to impact those younger than us so that they will do even greater things for His glory.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the people You placed in my life who helped me to know You. Thank You for sharing Your wisdom and guidance with me through them. Lord, use me in a similar way with the brothers and sisters younger than I. May they do even greater things for Your kingdom as a result. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Leviticus 19