resurrection

The entire life of Jesus present with God’s creation led up to his sacrifice for us, not ending there at death, but rising again in resurrection. God sent him, so that his life would redeem his creation.

I think of all the times in the Old Testament that God was angry with his creation, and that anger poured out in so many terrifying ways. I don’t think we like to ponder why God’s anger poured out, because we see too many similarities with how his creation exists today.

Disease. War. Hunger. Pain. Thirst. Sex trafficking. Drugs. Death.

It’s endless, right? This world sucks.

But God tried to help us see another way.

God sent Jesus.

The baby sent to redeem creation.

The man who started his ministry by telling people not to talk about him yet, and to stop praying for show.

The man who laid a foundation of belief, healing and community before giving himself to all.

The man whose stories led back to the Kingdom of God. Every. Time.

The man who was a true rebel preaching about helping prostitutes, murders, sick, hungry and poor.

The man who built community with 12 guys who didn’t have a clue.

The man who poured out his heart in prayer for ALL OF US before he was arrested.

The man who hung on a cross while freely giving salvation to a murderer.

The man.

That’s key.

He was born. He lived as one of us. He died.

And then…he rose.

Resurrection.

Life. Real life. Living in the Kingdom.

This world is not the end. This world isn’t even close to the Kingdom of God.

But it had been, until sin crept into that sacred space.

In my imagination, I see it as a big oil dump over creation. Slick, slimy, reaching into every crevice and so hard to get off. After working on getting oil off for a while, we want to give up…toss in the towel and head home where we can escape that hard, nasty, messy work.

But the oil covers our home…this world where we have the privilege to live out our earthly lives.

The oil needs to come off, and God guarantees he will restore it.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. [Revelation 21:3-6]

Collective sigh of relief? All of this is meant to only be for a time, then God makes everything new again?

Yes. Undoubtedly, yes…but…

It dishonors the creator when creation sits and waits while parts of creation are in pain.

It dishonors the man who gave his entire life when we choose to not pay attention to his teachings.

It dishonors the world that has been made slick with oil of our sin when we want to throw in the towel on restoring God’s creation simply because it is too hard.

IMG_3533As we lean into the beauty of Easter, we also need to lean into the sin of the world we live in…it is where Jesus lived and died. Not to make us depressed and discouraged, but to inspire and invigorate the life we have living as people called by Jesus. Jesus didn’t die so we could play it safe and wait for God to come and restore it all. Nothing about Jesus’ life and the example he lived for his disciples shows us to play it safe and wait. It calls us to be daring in how we react to the world around us. It calls us to be restorers. If the Kingdom of God is coming, doesn’t it make sense to work toward the restoration that Kingdom will bring? To set right the wrongs around us? To confess sin and find redemption? To see God’s heart, and joy in the lives that the world says don’t matter? To live a live that is honoring to resurrection?

May you find the heart of God while you seek your answer, because each one of us has a different role in working toward restoring the Kingdom of God and any voice telling you different, is not the voice of the one who created you.

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cup

Recently in a couple Bible study groups we’ve been looking at the Last Supper and Garden of Gethseme. A question came up Sunday night…from a sixth grader…why does Jesus talk about God taking his ‘cup’? Here is what they were looking at:

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” [Matthew 26:39]

Without a tool to geek out (Greek/Hebrew concordance) I am left to my own devices, which saves you from scanning over geek-out paragraphs!

From the perspective of a Christian many thousands of years removed from the cross. It is tempting to say, ‘What? What? Jesus didn’t want to died for our sins!?!?’

Folks, he was human…does it sound fun to YOU? The ultimate sacrifice that still stands for ALL of our sins was…excruciating, at the least. It had to be. If it were anything less it would never have launched beyond a miraculous rabbi who told some stories.

Frankly, I love the honesty in Jesus’ humaness during the Garden passages. I am comforted that Jesus knew what was coming, didn’t want to…and still did it.

The passage right before the garden is the Last Supper where he has just explained to the disciples, drink my ‘blood’ out of this cup to remember him.

There is the thought that his blood pouring out of his cup/body on the cross was the cup that he wanted his Father to take away.

But then there is a earlier reference in Matthew that adds another element. James and John have just asked Jesus to be seated at his right and left hand in his kingdom…

Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” [Matthew 20:22]

Which lends to the thought that the cup symbolizes his suffering.

Each of the four Gospel writers all reference Jesus referring to the cup his Father had given him.

So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” [John 11:13]

With so many things to sit under in scripture…why am I stuck on this verbiage? Jesus always taught in parables and symbolism. It’s not surprising. Sometimes it was a dizzying logic that we are not ever meant to understand on earth.

Still…that cup. I also think I am stuck on it because I’d never paid attention until a sixth grader asked me. I function on faith, and sometimes I chalk things too easily up to being content not knowing. I tend to put things in salvation issue and not salvation issue boxes.

But maybe…just maybe…there is something to learn here in this Lenten moment of examination and practice of drawing closer to our Abba.

So I turn it over to you…when we are at such a pivotal point in scripture, the defining points of our salvation and belief…what do you think Jesus means when he asked for this ‘cup to pass from me’?

lift

Arguments, confrontation and walls so thick that a wrecking ball wouldn’t be able to break it down…it drives me crazy when believers fight.

I get that family members have fights, especially when we are passionate people. But what does that show non-believers if we can’t get along? Would you want to be a part of a movement that shows hate toward each other?

That does not draw people to the heart of God…that propels them away with lightening speed, never to look back again. And we wonder why so many Americans have an ugly view of the church.

My heart breaks the most when fights are over petty things. If it is not a salvation issue, let it go. Seriously….so many times faith gets turned into religion, the church looks ugly and the message we are supposed to be delivering is completely invalidated.

God meant it to be beautiful, and then we get in the way. Silly humans. So much for being in His image.

Many times we get caught up in ourselves, and struggle to identify what are really areas of selfishness that we refuse to deal with. Our refusal of honestly revealing those areas are causing God’s message to suffer.

IMG_3840We are meant to deliver the message of God. We are meant to be a physical extension of his truth, love and compassion…yet we verbally beat each other up just to be ‘right.’ It’s not about you. It’s always about Him. His mission. His Kingdom. His holiness.

I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. [1 Timothy 2:8]

Yah…me, too, Paul…here’s to all believers lifting holy hands, and laying down the verbal machetes. Please, for the good of God’s mission…confront yourself, and lay down the machete.