Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Don't Look Away

Let me preface this writing to let you know I struggled with this one. I definitely don't want to be the type of in-your-face Christian that turns people away from Christ because of an over-zealousness. So I wrote this, I slept on it, I ran it past some great friends. But then I got this devotion in my email this morning about the three servants with the talents, that ended with the following:
"So today, I purpose to use my all in service of God
when He gives me an
assignment, no matter how risky it
feels. Otherwise, I am denying the amazing
grace of
God available to me,and rendering useless the gifts
my Master has
given me. So let's learn from this
servant by refusing to remain immobilized

when we're afraid to fail.

Dear Lord, help me manage my time, talent, money,
body and relationships in ways
that please You,
and grow Your Kingdom. Deliver me from fearing
of failure. In
Jesus' Name, Amen."
So God says post it - so here it is. Watch your toes again, but remember, this one was written for myself as much as it was for you:

How often do we see things that make us look away? A scene from a movie which turns our stomach? Someone in pain or sickness? The man holding the cardboard sign on the side of the road? The commercial about children with cancer? Why is that?? Why is it that when confronted with uncomfortable images, our minds cannot allow that image to be seared into our consciousness so we look away, or we close our eyes? Are we, as humans, so weak that we cannot stand anything negative imposing on our perfect little world? Or is it that we think ourselves so strong that we have the power to push all pain and negativity aside?

This weekend, at an Easter service of all things, I was forced to close my eyes. To try to block out the pain. But the very thing I was trying to avoid, was in fact the thing that on that very day, is being celebrated world-wide. Christ's death on a cross. The image of my Lord, being beaten, tortured, and bleeding to death - is one that I could only stand strong for so long, before I had to close my eyes. How weak am I???

What stands out to me is that as churches celebrated Easter, and the risen Savior, how we close our eyes to "Good Friday". 'Yeah, He died on the cross.... But on Sunday He rose again! He conquered death, He is our salvation.' But when we skip from Palm Sunday, to Resurrection Day - what are we leaving out?? We are glossing over the moment of battle! The moment when Jesus stepped forward and raised His hand. He raised His hand and said "I'll die for them." And how easy is it for us to forget what a price He paid, and instead, even as Christians, receive the gift with our eyes closed to that pain?

Because it is much easier, to sing our songs of rejoicing in the Risen Lord. To fix our eyes on the empty tomb. To imagine the glorified body of Christ stepping forth. But on Easter, there also needs to be the realization that that body was beaten beyond recognition. Not just a few thorn scratches and nails in his palms, but beaten to the point of death. Not a little line of blood coming from his lip, but blood covering His entire body. And that is an image we don't want to face as it is an image that hurts. But that is the image God wanted us to remember. It is so much easier to limit the broken body to a little cup of grape juice and a pinch of bread than to remember the true broken body of Christ as He intended us to.

Throughout the Bible, God consistently gave pictures or images to His people to allow them to remember, to relate, and to understand. He began with the killing of animals to cover Adam and Eve's sin. The rainbow to remind Noah that He keeps His promises. The slaying of a Passover Lamb to save the Israelites from death. Those images were seared in the early Jews minds, and so much so that they repeated that visual imagery every year with the sacrifice of an innocent lamb. So how is it that on the most important day of history - we think we can blindly skip past the pain Christ went through, the image of Him hanging on a cross, and jump straight into His forgiveness without pausing to truly recognize His sacrifice? God gave the world that image for us to remember how serious our sin is.

In the recent Passion play we took the kids to, I took Addison to the back of the church to try to shield her little eyes from the jeering crowd, the whips of the soldiers, the blood of Christ. But from the back of the church, her little voice could be heard whispering, "Where is God? I can't see God? They put God on the cross! Where are they putting God?" My child's words were able to open my eyes. This was not just any man who died for our sins. This man was GOD.

Don't get me wrong, I think Easter is to celebrate the risen Lord. To celebrate the eternal life He gives. But how can we rejoice when there are others who are still trapped in their sins and darkness? Who have not come to the foot of the cross and looked up on that battered body and accepted that man as their God? Do we honestly think that if we, or someone else, is 'good', if they occasionally make an appearance at a church somewhere, if they sometimes say a prayer before a meal - that Christ will look down from His seat on high and say "Well done, my good and faithful servant". That He went through a gruesome death, for a mediocre commitment? We can never "be good" enough for what he did for us. And that's why we have to open our eyes, look to the cross, and embrace Him as our savior. And that's why we have to then point others to that cross and then get to the work that he asked us to do: serving and loving others, being his hands and feet, truly worshipping Him, following all He commanded. So that His death is not minimalized but instead glorified.

John 14:5-7 " Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way? Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

John 14:23-24 "Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me."

1 comment:

Abbie H. said...

I loved this post Tracy and I don't think you should ever avoid saying something about it when done with love and concern.

Some times we all need a little reminder of these things and the purpose behind all that we do.

Thanks for that today!