i love fridays. last day of the work week. the door leading to the glorious room called the weekend! and i also love sundays. worshiping at Seacoast (although, i do miss my Grace family, a lot, too!) and serving in Kidscoast every other week. bringing the truth and stories of Jesus to life for the 2s and 3s classes is always fun :)
but this blog isn't about how much i love those days - it's about a spiritual perspective that i desperately need sometimes...
This morning, Ernest Smith preached about what the Cross looks like for those who oppose Jesus, those who don't see the Gospel for everything that it truly is. the three points Ernest made were: some see Jesus as:
1) weak - some Jewish people took this view because He was able to save and heal others but did not save Himself on the cross. he was supposed to bring life, but how could he do that from the grave?
2) defeated - Satan probably looked at the cross and thought "I won"
3) dangerous - religious leaders were threatened by His power and authority and the attention he was getting from all the people.
no longer were they "the stuff".
no longer were people praising them for being "religious" and "spiritual". they were now putting their faith in this man who was performing miracles!
at first, i was confused about the direction of the message. why would we look at the "other" end of the spectrum? isn't studying the "other" side kind of dangerous and not where we want to tread?
but i realized the reason we MUST look at the side is so we can understand the impact of the truth!
Jesus was neither weak nor defeated! He conquered death and rose from the grave! He is risen and lives among us now! He is the Savior of the world! His death on the cross means our sins are forgiven. Nothing we can do for ourselves can add or subtract from our salvation. You see, Jesus isn't weak- we are. Our meager efforts to be "good" don't define salvation. when we accept our salvation and grace for what they are -- free, unconditional gifts of love from God -- we see that He wasn't defeated -- SATAN WAS!
But Jesus is far more dangerous than the Pharisees and Sadducees could ever imagine - he wasn't just threatening their position in the status quo, He was coming to shake up the world! He was coming to establish a new kingdom far greater than any kingdom they could establish. He wasn't about doing good things or being good people: he was about unconditional love, grace, sacrifice and mercy for those who believed in Him! Our entrance to heaven is about Him, not us. He is calling us to live radically as well - to step out in faith, deny ourselves and follow him (Matthew 16:24), sell our possessions and give to the poor (Luke 12:33), love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44)!
As believers, we can choose the "Friday" perspective -- we can choose to see Jesus nailed to the cross - accept that he is dead. We can continue to try to live like his selfless act meant nothing - go on, trying to be "good" people or not forgiving ourselves because of past mistakes, shortcomings, failures, or whatever it may be that is keeping you from truly believing in God's ultimate salvation.
...or we can choose the "Sunday" perspective - know that Jesus CONQUERED death! That his love for us is unconditional - that his crucifixion eliminates our sins, mistakes, and failures.
We can choose to live in the status quo - never leaving our zone of comfort. Or we can choose to be dangerous! we can be radical, abandoning all that is "comfortable" according to the world's standards in order to bring His name glory!
i know for me, all these things are obstacles. Sometimes my life and actions don't reflect my belief that my salvation is found solely in the Cross.
i try to do good things.
i try to be spiritual.
i try to earn my way to heaven.
i, also, live in a bubble of safety and comfort. i'm not willing to be bold and radical and step out in faith. i'm willing to settle for false idols - money, popularity, reputation - rather than to boldly proclaim the name of Christ. i want to be in control of my own life. i don't want to risk losing all that i have. i live in the world of Friday afternoon.
but i want to live in the freedom of Sunday morning! Christ is STRONG, VICTORIOUS, and DANGEROUS beyond all compare. and i want that to reflect in my life and in my every action.
...and because i've been obsessively reading over my notes from "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" lately, here are quotes that have hit home with me lately and given me a new perspective on how i need to be living:
"Too often our prayers revolve around asking God to reduce the odds in our lives. We want everything in our favor. But maybe God wants to stack the odds against us so we can experience a miracle of divine proportions. Maybe faith is trusting God no matter how impossible the odds are. Maybe our impossible situations are opportunities to experience a new dimension of God's glory." (24)
"We want control, but the decision to follow Christ is a relinquishment of control. Following Christ is letting Jesus take the wheel. Of course, some of us act like backseat drivers. Or worse yet, we're like little kids that make their parents crazy by asking one question over and over again: Are we there yet?" (87).
"We're control freaks. But faith involves a loss of control. And with the loss of control comes the loss of certainty. You never know when a five-hundred-pound lion may cross your path. And faith is the willingness and readiness to embrace those uncertainties." (87)
"Faith is risky business. The goal of faith is not the elimination of risk. In fact, the greatest risk is taking no risks." (109)