Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Reflecting on the last week of the life of Jesus is happening throughout Christian churches and homes. It happens every spring and sometimes it is more meaningful than others. Those years when I take the time to stop the hustle bustle of life and truly study those last days are the best and most meaningful Easter seasons. The details of the observation of the sacrificial lamb of God, the triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, Gethsemane, the arrest, the phony trials, the sentencing, the beatings, the path to Calvary, the Crucifixion must ALL be reviewed. There are some life changing elements in the story, it never gets old. He laid down His life willingly, no one took it from Him. AND then the victory over death we celebrate Easter Sunday is off the charts wonderful.
The whole story wouldn't be so fabulous if the tomb still contained the bones, but it is empty. Even if you want to disregard the Scriptures, history itself relates the fact. No body has ever been found, and hundreds of eye witnesses have testified and recorded the fact that Jesus really WAS who HE said He was.
Even the skeptics that like to call him a "good prophet" lose the argument. What "good prophet" would lie about His identity, committing blasphemy, how is that GOOD?
In our present age of tolerance, try as we might, the claims of Christianity and the claims of other world religions cannot be reconciled. Either it's true or it isn't.... we can't make a combo of beliefs to make folks feel better about their worldview. There is just no way to put all tenets together, shake 'em up and make it come out palatable. Sound narrow? I suppose it is.
If we leave the argument there it's pretty discouraging. BUT...the purpose behind HIS life was to reconcile people to their God and to each other! Somehow we've missed that and decided to engage in a shouting match, erecting walls of differences that in view of eternity don't amount to a hill of beans. HIS purpose WAS AND IS ALL INCLUSIVE. The purpose behind calling Abraham to be the unique Father of All religions and the purpose we serve today is the SAME. Love God and reveal His character and love to the world through our behavior.
Having just recently walked those narrow streets and paths of the very land that Jesus walked, hearing the angry shouts of "religious" people, witnessing man's inhumanity to man, and hearing stories of deep generational pain brings one conclusion. The Message of the Holy One has been silenced in that Holy Place.
And I'm not sure the American church culture has done much better. We fight over denominational issues, types of music, types of buildings, times of services, dress code, definition of sin, etc. And somehow the message we're supposed to be declaring gets lost in the confusion. It takes a steady, determined focus to fix our gaze on God rather than on people (us!) that get wrapped up in the non-essentials.
The Bible tells us there will always be a minority of God's people, holding down the fort, trying to love and forgive as Jesus did. I cherish those people in my life and in my church. The church, with all it's imperfection, is STILL the only place of HOPE and UNCONDITIONAL LOVE for ALL.
It's a really good place to be this week! HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!
That is profound! And demands a response.