I love the idea of “having it together.” I want to come off like the guy that has it made. I don’t want people to see how hard the struggle is at times. A passage that I’ve been meditating on lately is Romans 5:6 and it says,
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.”
Utterly helpless. I don’t ever want to be utterly helpless. That sounds terrible and yet, if I’m honest, that is exactly where I’m at. That’s hard for me to admit and I probably need to explain it. I can do all kinds of things. I have 2 master degrees. I have a bunch of certificates that would seem to indicate that I have my act together. My resume is pretty impressive when it comes to ministry but when it comes to the stuff that really matters, I’m in desperate need of God.
This passage gives me hope. I’m confronted with my humanity every single day and sometimes wonder if I’m too messed up to do what I’m doing. This passage is saying that we can turn that thought right on it’s head as we assert the truth that our brokenness is exactly why Jesus came. He saw how far off we were and came to us at that point to lead us to freedom. We would do well to remember where we came from lest we get prideful and forget how desperately we need him today.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged God, Life
One of the things that I found disturbing when watching the movie, the “Son of God,” was how much so many people hated Jesus. Of course, not everyone hated him but there were many that did. What was it about this carpenter that people just couldn’t stand? Why did many, especially among the elite, not want anything to do with him?
In order to honestly reflect on that question, I must turn it towards myself. Why are there parts of me that still hate him? I know that he died for me and that I wouldn’t have the least trace of life in myself if it weren’t for him. I know that and yet there are still times I wish we had never crossed paths. Life was, in some ways, easier before I knew him. I just did whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to. While that wasn’t freedom, maybe there is some bliss in ignorance.
There was something threatening in Jesus. He didn’t compromise. Here was someone who was completely committed to righteousness and truth. Here was someone in whom there was no darkness. In each of us there are agreements that we have made with different lies and many of these agreements we are not consciously aware of. The more time people spent around Jesus, the more they realized that he came to turn the world on its’ head.
I don’t always want to change. Sometimes I just want to be left the way that I am. Even knowing that I’m trapped in sin at times, part of me still just wants to be left alone. When Jesus comes to my heart to lead me to freedom, there are parts of me that still ferociously snap back at him like a snarling dog. In the depths of my heart I want to reach out to him and grasp the life that he’s called me to but there are other parts of me that wish he would just go away.
Why did they hate him so much? I think I understand. I hate to admit it but I find some commonality with those who drove the nails into his hands. In admitting this I am all the more thankful for Romans 5:8 which says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” While we were still sinners. He came for men like me. He came for you too. He didn’t tell us to clean up before we get in the shower. He came knowing how dirty we were and chose to meet us exactly where we are at.
I got to go watch the “Son of God” movie last night with Abbi and I was really moved by it. I can’t put into words what impacted me so much but there’s just something about seeing the whole drama acted out. It makes you see through the theology and doctrine right into the heart of what we believe.
One of the things that blows me away about Jesus is his submission to his Father’s business. He knew what he was here for and what he was not here for. Rome was terribly oppressive to the people of Israel and they wanted nothing more than for a king to come and save them from this tyranny. Jesus knew that his Father was up to something way more important that most of the people around him would simply not understand. He walked through this world humbly completing his Father’s business.
The moment in the life of Jesus that touches me the most is his time with the Father right before his arrest. He was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying and he gives us a glimpse into his human weakness. Jesus was both Son of Man and Son of God and it’s next to impossible to understand how those two things work together. That being said, in the Garden of Gethsemane we see some of his humanity. He asked the Father to deliver him from the impending trial if he was willing to. Even though he would have loved to have been delivered, he still submitted himself to God’s will. He prayed, “Not my will but yours be done.” This is where the battle was won. This was the huddle before the big play and he was resolved to go through with it even though it would cost him his life.
“Not my will but yours be done.” Such a powerful prayer. I have a strong will. I always have. I frequently want my will to be done above all else. I don’t like being told what to do. To follow Jesus however, we all must take a hard look at this prayer. This is how we are to live. Completely submitted to the will of God. There is a cosmic drama of epic proportions playing out around us and it is not for us to understand the breadth or scope of that drama. We are however, invited to play a vital role but that role is not achieved through self-aggrandizement. That role is achieved through pure and simple surrender. “Not my will but yours be done.” In 7 simple words Jesus was acknowledging his humanity in not wanting to experience what was before him but he was also acknowledging that he existed for the One who sent him.
The ball is now in our court. Will we follow in his footsteps or not? This is arguably the most important decision we will ever make and we get to make it every single day.
One of my greatest strengths that can easily become one of my greatest weaknesses is my ambition. I can’t help but shoot for the stars. I want the very top of the mountain all the time in every conceivable way. This can be a great driver and motivator but sometimes I get into trouble because my expectations get way too high. This is not a perfect world and sometimes I get really bent out of shape when things don’t work out the way that I want. One passage of scripture that I’ve been meditating on lately is Romans 8:28 which says…
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
The part of this passage that I find to be the most compelling is the word “everything.” God uses “everything” to work together for the good of his kids. There are a lot of terrible things that fall under the umbrella of everything. This means that all the junk in our lives falls under this heading. All the bad stuff that we’ve ever done, thought, felt and experienced falls into this category. This is not saying that all things are good but that God promises to use all things to work together for the good in the lives of his children.
Life is a lot of things but it’s definitely not perfect. There are things that I experience every single day that I wish I could delete. Perhaps part of the secret to finding peace in a broken world is taking this promise to the bank. What I’m trying to do is think about it anytime I’m experiencing something that I wish I didn’t have to experience. I’m thinking, “God, you promise to make even this work together for the good in my life.” It may not change our circumstances but it might change our perspective which could make all the difference in the world.
I’m sure most of you are familiar with the creature Smeagol from Lord of the Rings. He used to be a person but then something happened. He found something, a ring, that he really loved and it began to change him.
This is how he looked at first…
Slowly but surely it began to change him. The ring wasn’t just an ordinary ring. It had an incredible power and that power became Smeagol’s destruction. He affectionately referred to the ring as “my precious” even though it was destroying him and eroding his humanity. By the time the ring’s work was done, Smeagol was no longer a person. He became a disgusting creature capable of killing and all kinds of atrocities simply because of his love for the ring. Here is what it did to him…
I think that in some ways, we all have a “precious.” Something that we love so much even though it hurts us. Even though it may be destroying us. I know what mine is….control. I don’t want to let it go. I know that I’m not actually in control of everything but it’s more of a feeling. I don’t like to let go. I don’t like to trust. On the surface this forbidden fruit seems tasty and seductive but it brings with it a whole host of problems. Worry….anxiety….fear…..pride….disconnectedness……and other kinds of emotional cancers. But as Smeagol would say, “We loves it!”
I’m not a Lord of the Rings expert but one of the most powerful moments in the trilogy is when Frodo is trying to destroy the ring in the Volcano in the Return of the King. Frodo had become seduced by it’s power and was even willing to fight his friend Samwise to hold onto the ring. The reason I find this scene powerful is because it offers us a lot of insight into how difficult it can be to do the right thing.
What do you need to give up in order to fight for your humanity? What do you need to give up in order to fight for your freedom? All of us have something. We don’t like to give those things up because they have defined us in different ways. We don’t know who we would be without “my precious.” But we do know who we’ll be with it and it’s just not worth it. I know that I have some work to do. I don’t want to let go and surrender and thus give up control. I can’t let this stop me though. We can’t let the ring stop us. I would like to pray for us.
God, I acknowledge that I have things in my life that I don’t want to give to you. I don’t want to completely submit to you. I confess that anything holding me back from you is a lie and I pray for your freedom. I pray for each person reading this that you would lead them to freedom. Show them the things that are hurting them even though they may feel like they’re helping them. Give them the courage to let go.
I think that in our American culture it is difficult for us to understand the concept of a king. I’ve never particularly liked authority anyways so seeing God as my King has never been the most natural connection. It’s relatively easy for me to see God as my Father and friend. I enjoy pondering the idea that he has my best interest at heart and wants to see me prosper. I don’t particularly like however, being told what to do. Definitely not by people and it’s a struggle when it comes to God.
God is the King of the universe. The King of kings and Lord of lords. This is incredibly important for us to understand. People in ancient cultures with a king understood some things about how to behave in the king’s presence. They had a different understanding when it came to authority. When the king told you to do something, he wasn’t making a suggestion. He was telling you what to do and he had the authority to back it up. You wouldn’t go into his presence with all kinds of suggestions and ideas about how he should change things. Humbling yourself went without saying because you knew you were in the presence of someone who had the final say in the land.
Because of the political environment we have in America, the idea of a king is incredibly foreign to most of us. It doesn’t even really compute. We’re used to the idea of democracy where our vote matters and politicians exist to serve us. I know I don’t generally think about the fact that our universe has a government and it is not a democracy; it’s a monarchy. How often do we think about the fact that we live in the context of an eternal monarchy? There is a King that rules over the universe who possesses absolute authority.
I know when I pray I often don’t talk to God as though he were a King. I want to see this change. All of us have to reconcile with the fact that he’s not merely making suggestions as to how you should live your life. He’s not presenting you with ideas for your consideration either. He is giving you commands that are to be obeyed. Now he also happens to be a more loving being than we could ever imagine but that truth should not cloud the reality that he is the King.
When we enter the King’s presence to pray we should acknowledge who we’re speaking to and act accordingly. One key understanding is simply recognizing that our role is to submit to him completely understanding that he is in charge. It’s his universe. Your life is his along with everything that you have. He has entrusted those things to you for the time being but you don’t really own anything.
I believe there is great freedom in the recognition of God as absolute King. Many of us carry ourselves as though we were in charge of our own lives. While this can occasionally be a pleasant delusion, it also carries with it great stress. We weren’t designed to be in charge but rather to submit. We were designed to yield our will to the King of heaven and earth. As we learn to do this, we will find ourselves living in a rhythm that is far more consistent with our core makeup and wiring. Do you feel like you’re in charge of your own life? Are you stressed out because of it? Perhaps it’s time to enter the King’s presence and lay your plans, dreams, goals and everything else at his feet.