Tuesday, January 12, 2010

just a quick note

Jesus was a good teacher. That's what a lot of people say. He was a thinker before his time. He was a revolutionary in his philosophies and ideas about love and acceptance.

Really? This is what I want to say to the next person who says that.

Then follow him. It's really easy. Be like him. If he was as awesome as you claim he was, then go to the Bible, because that's where we know about Jesus, and read it for yourself. Find out what all the fuss is about. If he is so revolutionary and "before his time" then go learn from him. Be like him.

Follow him.

A handkerchief...

I've noticed something interesting as I've been reading through Genesis. Their view of who God was, and the way they interacted with God is a lot like what the world is today.

The secular world believes that favour with God can be earned. They believe that there are select few people who communicate with Him, but they themselves cant. They believe if you're good, you go to heaven, and if you're bad, you die and go to hell. They see life as a set of scales.

I need to tell you about this idea that I have. Think of it as a parable if you will. An illustration.

The bible says that God is not just the alpha, he is also the omega. That means that he didn't just see what happened at the beginning. He doesn't just know what did, and what we said, and what we thought. He also knows what's going to happen. What we will do next month. What will happen next year. How it's all going to end.

God sees our lives like a giant canvas. A handkerchief if you will. Through this hanky there is a white thread that goes all the way through it which depicts our lifeline. Here's the deal. When we steal, that thread becomes black for a few stitches. When we lie, same thing happens. When we do anything that is against God's perfect code, the thread turns black for a few stitches.

So when we look at our lives, we tell God that we have done a lot of good. Look at everything we've done that's good, and that now we have the right to get into heaven. Who is he to judge us really?

Well that brings me to 2 specific points. First, He created the universe, He made the rules, therefore He has every right to judge us. His rules is that we need to be perfect. Second, when He looks at our lives, he doesn't see a scale, he sees a hanky. And even the tiniest black thread disqualifies us from His perfect model.

This ties in perfectly with Isaiah 64:6 "all our righteous acts are as filthy rags." This doesn't give us freedom to sin. This isn't an allowance, this doesn't mean we say "oh well, can never be good, might as well keep going the way I'm going" No. This is a crying out from a pleading heart to ask God to save us.

God reveals to us that the consequences of these black threads of our life are death, both physical and spiritual. That's why His revelation to the Jews started the ritual of sacrificing a perfect animal to cover those black threads. But even that wasn't enough. It had to be done once a year and it had to be a perfect lamb and the ritual had to be done in a certain way. Even then, the rabbi would be trembling with fear because of he'd made even a single tiniest mistake, he could have died. Messy business.

But there's good news. God Himself entered creation and lived a perfect life as a human being. Then He offered Himself as a sacrifice for all eternity. His blood covers all of our black threads, and all the ones that are yet to be stitched. It's a free gift that we don't deserve. free, but not cheap.

That's why when it says that the only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ, it's not being exclusive, it's being inclusive. God doesn't offer cheap grace. Not a cheap sacrifice. But absolutely free.

All you have to do is accept it. And mean it.

Is it really all the same?

So, I'm not going to delve into the difference between all the major religions, too many people have done far better than I ever could. However, I do want to shed light on one particular point that came to mind the other day.

According to many people, and I've heard this quite often, all religions are basically the same, at the basis, they have the same principles of love and peace, and being a better human being because we are all innately good natured. I never truly believed this, those of you that know my past will know why. However, it is true that there is good-will in some shape or form in every religion.

Here's where it gets a little tricky. Christianity doesn't actually say that. Really? Yes really. The Bible stressed very specifically that all have fallen short of God's perfect goodness, and that there is no one who is good, "not even one" Romans 3:10.

this leaves me with 3 points:
  1. God says that there is, inside us, a nature that keeps us away from being good. (Rom 8)
  2. Also, do right to what end? you're a good person all your life... you stuff up sometimes, everybody does, but then what?
  3. The bible tells us that there is nothing we can do, no matter how good we are, to earn anything from Him (more on that in the next entry). so really there is nothing we can do to be Christian.

The bible specifically says that God's gift to us is to no longer struggle with that. With "good" and "bad". That's what grace is. It's God's way of giving us an out. A free ticket. Not cheap, but it is free, all we have to do is accept it.

There is nothing you can do to be a christian. No steps to follow. No list to tick off. Just accept!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's just dinner

Last Sunday I visited a new church, it felt so strange. I'd never been to another church by myself before. It was good to worship God in a completely different environment.

After church I chatted to a few people and met a really lovely family. By the end of the afternoon they had taken my details, and by the end of the day, they had contacted me and invited me over for dinner.

It completely blew me away. I got so emotional. This family had opened up their home to me after only meeting me for 10 minutes. It showed me just how blessed we are in the Kingdom of God.

I remember a fair few years ago while I was blogging, I wrote something like "I feel homesick for a place I've never been." I've finally found it. When we truly embrace God's love, an amazing thing happens, we get adopted into an eternal family.

We get adopted into an eternal family.

For some, it's not such a huge deal, they already have the nuclear family with the pet and 2.5 children. But for others, this is the biggest gift anyone could possibly offer. It's an opportunity to feel wanted, included, loved, and valued. A sense of worth and belonging.

Just dinner? I don't think so.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Perfect Life

I realized something today (as I woke up at 4:30am and couldnt get back to sleep), what does perfect life mean?

I've heard, and hey I've said myself, that Jesus came to earth and lived a perfect life so a) we wouldnt need to and b) to show us that, hey, it could be done.

But (for a brief moment) when I look at it, he didn't really have a perfect life...
  • his mother was looked down on cuz she got pregnant out of wedlock.
  • the king at the time ordered all children under 2 to be killed
  • people tried to kill him because of his teaching
  • his friends abandoned him when he most needed
  • one of his closest friends betrayed him and sold him
  • the judge washed his hands of him
  • the gaurds tortured him
  • and the crowds yelled "Crucify him"
Wow. Did he really live a perfect life? This showed me three things:
  1. We live in a world of relative morality, relative truth, I believe we also have  relative perfection. We live in a hallmark society where perfection, where a house can be "perfect" for one person but not for another... all the little quirks in your spouse make them "perfect" for you, etc...
  2. When we look at Jesus, we usually see a skewed image of who he was as a human being. He didn't just live his 33 years on earth. He did die, but he also came to life, we have to take that into consideration as well.
Shit will happen! You're going to be in an accident; something will rob your house; someone will break into your car; someone will cut you off on the road (could even be me); you will encounter rejection; you will encounter pain; you will encounter disease; you will lose you're loved ones; be cheated on; God forbid, you could even be raped, this is just the kind of world we live in. not all of that will happen to everyone, but there isn't one person who could go through life without some sort of hardship coming up at some point or other.

So what do we do then? Do we scream at God and ask him where he is? Why is he so perfect? All high and mighty up in heaven telling us what's good or bad? What would you do?

I came to a conclusion. What happens to you does not define the quality of your life. Let me repeat that. What you gets thrown at you in life does not make your life good or bad, one way or another. It's how you deal with it, how you react to it, how you let it affect you, that defines who you are.

How can two people go through the same tragedy, but come out with completely different outlooks on life? We live in a time where we look at what happens to us as our lot in life. We see the shells that we live in and we think "this must be it".

That's why it's so important to make sure we look closely at Jesus' life. He was hated, but he never hated anyone back. He was betrayed but he wasn't bitter. He was abandoned, but he still loved his friends. He was tortured, but he still healed that soldier's ear after Peter cut it off. The people screamed to have him crucified, but he prayed for them with his last breath and forgave them.

That's the stuff that made his life perfect. That's what we need to look to Jesus for. In John 10:10 he said he came to give life, and have it in abundance! And in Hebrews 4:15 it says that we don't have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. It says he is perfect.

That's what a perfect life means.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Will, heaven, and earth.

Here is something that completely hit me today...
"thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven"

That is so powerful, because it shows us how we should be thinking.

Yet the world we live in is so much the opposite of that. So backwards. I've heard (hell, I used to say) things like "i dont think God would send someone good to hell, I dont think hitler deserves to go to heaven." I've also heard things like "God wouldn't hate this" or "He wouldn't have anything against that."

Well, how do you know? Did you ask him? The way most of the world things nowadays is this way, and just let it sink in for a minute...
"my will be done, on heaven as it is on earth"
Wow! In general, people think they can dictate what God does or doesn't like; how He can or can't act; what he would or wouldn't do...

And yet God Himself said that our righteousness is as filthy rags to Him.

more on that later...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Jesus lived, Jesus wept, Jesus died...

Throughout the ages, people has screamed at God, they're souls cried out to Him, "Where are you? Can you even see us? Who do you think you are, you have no idea whats going on down here! You can't see what I'm seeing, you can't feel what I'm feeling, you don't experience what I experience!"

But during Jesus' time, there was a hush in the bible. An almost serene quietness as creation in all its glory and pain held its breath as it experienced God entering the world as a human.

A baby boy, screaming for his mothers warmth and milk.
A little boy learning to crawl, walk, speak, potty.
A teenager going through the hormonal changes, maybe pimples, boredom, learning the customs.
A young man learning a trade, banging his thumb with a hammer, learning one step at a time.
An adult experiencing grief at a death of a friend, pain at the journey of a nation, the joy of watching children.
A man wronged, cheated, hurt, betrayed, tortured, and executed.

The God of the universe became human, and we no longer have an out by screaming at Him our frustration at His lack of empathy. Out of love for us he became one of us, so he could experience what we experience, hurt like we hurt, see like we see, love like we love, grieve like we grieve, and die like we die.

He came back to life, and because He is God, he is outside of time. That means he still knows exactly how we feel, exactly what we experience, exactly how we ache, exactly how we cry, exactly how we struggle and tire. All the time.

Jesus died for you? Jesus lived for you!