My friend Erin has been visiting her grandmother a lot recently in the nursing home. Her Grandmother had sold her house and was now fighting depression and having trouble finding any joy in her newly acquired nursing home. She complained about everything and blamed everybody. Until something miraculous happened, she came to terms with her own death. She embraced the fact that she was going to die and there was not a whole lot she could do to stop it. So do you want to know what happened? She started redecorating her room and inviting people over…. Amazing huh?
What if I told you that I am part of a revolution that requires that I die? What if I told you that I am part of a revolution that started 2000 years ago and millions on top of millions have died in it and for it? Would you want to join? What if I told you that you would have to learn to give away the things that you have earned? What if I told you that you would have to forgive others for what ever sin they commit against you? What if I told you would have to love your enemies?
The Church has too long held up the cross like a trophy to be handed off and too long discredited the absolute demand that the cross has on our lives. The demand the cross has is death. No ifs, ands, or buts. The Church has done a poor job dieing and now the world is confused. I plan on unfolding the amazing demands that we have as Christians and there unseen benefits.
In Matthew 6:19 Christ says “Do not store up for your selves’ treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for your selves treasures in heaven….” Heaven here is the term the Jews of this time used to describe the unseen world around them, not up in the sky off far away from them, but in the sky and air right there in front of them. When you collect things like money it begins to become your idol, it can make you happy or sad, and everything begins to depend upon whether or not you have it. But when you give away something like a gift there is a freedom and joy given to you from God that you can’t see. You give away money that can be some people’s god and God gives you a freedom and joy from Him that can not be bought or paid for. God gives you treasures in heaven for your giving now.
In the same absurd and true way James 1:2 says “Count it all joy my brethren when you encounter trials and tribulations because the testing of your faith produces perseverance…” Count it joy? Is he crazy? That’s the way I saw this passage for many years until I realized that that is the ultimate truth. God loves his children enough to grow them by any means necessary. Revelation 3:19, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.” But some say that God is not capable of harming us, “He loves us too much.” But don’t we really know that real love demands a change for the better, it demands that we become what we are supposed to be. When you get this message from James (and further detailed in Amos 4:6-13 as well as Romans 8:28 ) there is nothing to fear, there is nowhere to hide, and there is no one to blame. You come to the realization that every bad or uncomfortable situation is given to us from God to grow us. He allows hard situations to lure us to his side and to receive His comfort and strength. We need to quit casting out the demons and start turning to God for His will to be done. This is not to harm us but to help us turn to the best thing in the universe…God.
To forgive our enemy is to free them from the sin that they have committed against us. It is to turn the other cheek knowing that anger does not eliminate anger only love can do that. Look at the great Martin Luther King Jr. the only way to combat violence and ignorance is with love and wisdom. The myth of redemptive violence has plagued the world long enough and the way we can stop it is to put down our weapons, quit talking behind each other’s back and love from the depths. This
That’s all well and good and all but what about death and the cross what does that mean to me? It means everything…. Just as Erin’s grandmother found Joy after her own acceptance of death, so we too find joy. We die to our desires to be the best and to be liked. We die to our desire to do things that would displease God. We die to the influence of those around us and show them how life is suppose to be lived through the power of the spirit. We receive ridicule and are excluded. We speak convictiing words and more importantly we live out the hard words we speak. We demand to be last in line always making others look better than ourselves. We give up our own desires and live for the desires of God. We live to be encouraged by God and not by man. But the rewards and the blessings from God are unmatched.
Look through out history at the numerous martyrs that gladly laid down there lives. The truth is that those who die to themselves in this life through Christ actually can look forward to dieing to be with God. That is the most mind blowing revelation any one could have. To not fear death, but have the life of Christ in your mortal body.
2 Cor. 4:11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death of Jesus’ sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body.
He has given His life so we could have it. As we lay down our lives in obedience He fills us and gives us new life. This life is an eternal life that is not swayed by death… it is not swayed by finances… it is not swayed by trials… it is not swayed by enemies.
Jesus died to bring us to be with God. We can be with God right now and suffer with Christ as an Alien to the world He created. We can have our purpose lie in the unchanging arms of God. We can stand securely in this life and forever more. “Thy Kingdom come they will be done.”
So I pray that you will embrace your own death, that you will embrace the death of Christ Jesus. That you will see that the Cross must of cost a lot because what the whole world received is incredibly valuable. May you begin to understand that salvation was wrought by the cross not by any other source. May you find the heart to give up your desires in exchange for the Lord’s. May the Lord’s refreshing presence remind you that you can not seek the glory of man and of God (John 5:44). And may this message hurt you enough to make you turn to the loving embrace of our Father.