Living the life of a disciple is hard work.
I've been in the church twenty years, ever since I was born, and I have been blessed to go through many blessed seasons and many hard seasons. By no means is my life one of drama nor was I in the eyes of the world, the great sinner whom God radically transformed in a short period of time. I had always seen my life as very plain I realize that I had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but it was never a very apparent thing. It has been a very slow course where God has been showing me how deprave I am. How disparate my situation was and how immense his love truly is.
Though through my seasons of faith I have began to grow and understand the things of Him. Just reflecting on my life I remember the different times and things God taught me. I remember as a kid I slowly began to love God. The first thing that drew me to him was worship. I would sing and pray and his Spirit would draw me in woo me, so to speak. I was an emotional worshiper and even though a few times it might have been at my own conjuring but there were other times which He revealed himself.
The next aspect of God that gave me hope was the Spirit, when I was 10 it hit me in a burst of illumination and I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that God was real. I ran up to the front during worship in tears and fell on my face KNOWING that I needed him. I was prayed for later that night and I received the Holy Spirit. For a while after that I was operating in the empowerment of his Spirit and my hope was renewed.
Then came a dark time for me, in retrospect it was insignificant and I overreacted to what I misinterpreted as love (at 15!) naturally for the old self, I ran and I just wanted to be angry and feel unloved. Then his scripture kept me going. The very girl I so convinced myself whom I loved gave me a scripture years before and ironically it got me through the aftermath of my immaturity:
"But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, "You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off"; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." - ESV
It was like God knew I would be selfish. Though I was neglecting my duty as a disciple his love and beckoning brought me back to a community of people loved me through my own self-disdain and his Body began to be my comfort and hope.
But as I came back to him his calling kept me going. At his urging I decided to for go my own desires for my life. His promises and will have thus carried me through 2 1/2 years of Bible College. Even through some incredibly stressful times. Through my arrogance with the small amount of knowledge he himself gave to me.
But lately I've become increasingly aware of Christ. to think through 10 years of Christianity not once was Christ and him crucified been my focus and my hope. The very cornerstone and head of the Church had never really hit home. Over the past year Christ has grown on my mind and my heart. The word says that christ is our joy and our hope and I took him for granted.
It has been very enlightening to see how our culture portrays Jesus. As a guy, as a lie, as a good moral teacher and as a homeboy. I want to explain Christ a little bit, I want to talk about these portrayals.
What about us being friends with Jesus... Doesn't that mean Jesus is my homeboy? Yes, Scripture says that we are counted as friends but read the coming scriptures, and read Revelation 1, John saw Jesus in partial glory and fell down as if dead, and he was an apostle who has experienced salvation! So remember Jesus has called us friend, but he is Sovereign Lord and King, work out your faith with reverence, for the King out of duty and even more so, out of gratitude.
Well I don't know about that. Jesus was just a good moral teacher...
C.S. Lewis: take it away...
"We may note in passing that He [Jesus] was never regarded as a mere moral teacher. He did not produce that effect on any of the people who actually met him. He produced mainly three effects—Hatred—Terror—Adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval." C.S. Lewis, "What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?" (1950)
"What kind of good teacher spoke in parables that no one understood?" Pastor Damian Kinsella (thanks PDK!)
Well what about Jesus as a lie? (Well that is a blog for another day). What do we think of Christ now? I know this blog is already lengthy but here is some scripture. These scriptures are heavy and their implications are far reaching but I only want to demonstrate why Christ is our hope. I'm sure there are holes in my theology and I know I will not adequately do justice to these passages. "God may my own agenda fall by the wayside and only your word ring true."
"May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister." - ESV
"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." - ESV
Eph 1:15 - 2:10
"For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all."
2:1 "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." - ESV
Jesus was God. Simply put, but out of fear for misinterpretation I'll expound :) . Jesus was God, He was in the image of him but in him the entirety of God dwelled.
In what some theologians call the Great Parabola, Philippians illustrates: Jesus was the highest of highs, although he was God he did not count himself God(that doesn't me he didn't know his deity, or that he rejected it, but he chose to humble himself) and humbled himself, not only to humanity but out of obedience to the Father he was humbled to the point of death. Not just any death, he died the most gruesome of deaths. Being at the lowest of the lows, God, through the glory of the Father (Rom 6:4) raised Christ from the dead, that we who choose to believe might be saved though faith, which is a gift. And from the dead Christ was raised, and the Father exalted him to make his name greatest and put him above all. In him death has lost it's power, Jesus wasn't simply taken in death and now those who call on him won't have to die. Jesus' dying was a seizure of death itself, it no longer has any power over those who he (Christ) calls his own.
When we who rebelled against the Father, from whom we were given life. Christ king of all forsook his glory to save us... Why? Because he loves us. He did not count us as so un-valuable as to cast us away. He who ascribes all value still found us valuable.
Now he who is Christ Jesus, is put over all, that one day every knee will bow and tongue confess that he is God. Why is this significant? He is Christ who is in glory, he is sovereign King, but he is still the one whom the Father sent out of love, and out of love he came. Never forget that The sovereign God of the universe is for us, He loved us in humility and facing death on the cross by our hands, and loves us even in his Sovereign Lordship. All we have to do is believe in him, (something we can't even do on out own!) not that we are to stop in our pursuit of Him after salvation, the work is not done yet... ;)
More than that! If we have believe we have died with Christ, so we will live with him also (Rom. 6:5-10)! We have an inheritance with him! What's better, we don't yet have that inheritance but until that we have his Spirit, which is comforter, teacher, counselor, anointer, sustainer, and empowerer that we might be comforted, taught, counseled, anointed, sustained, and empowered so we can go and tell the world so that they might know Christ as well. (The Holy Spirit is the most awesome Swiss Army Knife ever, and He never breaks, and keeps on giving. Way better than a Mac (=P))
Since we live with him we should also live like he did, as the perfect example of obedience to the Father. After all we are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:10). The true love of Christ does not enable us to sin, it compels us to complete obedience, but this obedience is not with out joy nor is it easy. The truth is we face the retribution of our sin, an eternity of torment. But in Christ we are no longer on that path, our sins are not counted against us.
Christ is our everything. Not so we can neglect other tenets of the faith, but that we might be fully changed from our old ways but to be more like Christ. How I had gone so long and not acknowledged him still astounds me. If anything I hope these words will give you hope and a better understanding of Christ, if you are already saved; or if you are not, that you might realize the great sacrifice and the immense love which is for you from Christ and how much you need him.
Before I get back to the business end of a 10 page research paper I want to pray.
"Christ we need you greater than we need life, Thank you for your love and the death which you died. Let us not take you for granted, and take with the proper respect your sacrifice to heart. May we continue in our growth and our knowledge of you, growing in boldness to proclaim your word. Your will be done. Amen (Oi)"
"Where breath is at an impasse, the old self dies and the new self is raised"