A Word About Life

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For those of us who follow Jesus…

– who long for a more authentic expression of life

– who reach for something more than religion

– who want our faith to be more than a belief system

– who submit to a God we have never seen

– who have experienced a change that is undeniable

– who recklessly follow the way of love…

For you, I want to remind you, encourage you and challenge you with a life altering word.

READY?

Here goes…

“It’s not about you!”

I know, this may startle you. It may sound harsh or cold or insensitive. It may bring up all kinds of arguments or theological rebuttals and if it does, that’s OK. But it’s true none-the-less.

Question: Have you ever paused long enough to move beyond dealing with what you were saved from in order to ask, “What was I saved for?”

Really, what’s the point of our freedom from brokenness, struggle, guilt, conflict and death? To move into healing, freedom, confidence, peace and life – right? But life for what?

Deep down, we know that this authentic expression of life is much deeper than what we find our dreams, our failures, our desires and our successes. When we have moments of clarity, we know that true life can be found in the midst of all of this. It obviously involves us but somehow, it’s not limited to our external experiences.

So what’s it really about? What’s this new life for? As we question, listen to the following simple truth from Jesus’ prayer in John 17:

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

You see, the further we follow Jesus, the clearer the view becomes. We begin to see life as it was intended, not as it has been twisted. As we encounter this truer life more and more, we see the one for whom life was made and for whom life was given. We see Jesus – the very heart of the Creator.

When our eyes are fixed clearly on him, we realize that he is the center of the story. It is about him. His love. His gifts. His dreams. His forgiveness. His hope for a new and better life – a life remade by him and a life defined by relationship with him.

We are brought from death to life so that he might wholly and completely know us and love us. This is his heart, his nature, his overwhelming passion – that he might be express himself fully to us, the object of his desire. That he might once again be free to shower his love on us.

It is in the midst of this love that everything changes for us. Our hearts are healed, our dreams are rebuilt, our pursuits are altered, our relationships are mended and our successes are redefined. And somewhere, throughout this transformation, it hits us. The truth of Jesus comes flooding our hearts demanding us to die so his life may fully take hold and the Spirit reminds us with the words of Christ himself, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.”

It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s not about what we want or what we would choose. It’s about him and us being brought closer to him. Period. This is all that really matters.

Once we get this, the story changes. Our selfish pursuits become selfless offerings and instantly we are moved into partnership with our God. Moved into the front of his battle against what threatens to destroy his children. Moved to become extensions of the love of God. It is here that our gift of life finds full meaning.

What are we saved for? We are “Redeemed to Redeem!”

Take a look at the words of a new song we are singing at Journey, that was produced by Austin Stone Music:

Redeemed to Redeem 

We have come too far, beloved

Than to sway this path we tread

We have nothing else to boast

Than the cross where Jesus bled

CHORUS:

We’ve been redeemed to redeem the world around us

We have been loved to love one another

We’ve been pursued to pursue Your kingdom

Oh, oh, redeemed to redeem, oh oh redeemed to redeem

VERSE 2:

Yes we know what is to come

A home where men no longer thirst


For our souls were made to love
 oh nothing of this passing earth,

Oh nothing of this passing earth

BRIDGE:

To You our lives, we surrender now

Our hearts are Yours, we surrender now

All for Your name, we surrender now

Oh, oh redeemed to redeem

Oh, oh redeemed to redeem

Oh, oh, redeemed to redeem, oh oh redeemed to redeem

Jesus is Crazy!

Stone Cross

Sometimes, I think Jesus is summed up best in one word…crazy! If you really watch him, listen to what he teaches and apply it to your life, you might agree with me. This man is nuts! Consider for a second one of his more famous teachings:

“Don’t resist an evil person!

If you are slapped on the right check, turn the other, too.

If you are ordered to court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.

If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.

Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.”

What was he thinking? Does he really understand what he’s asking us to do? What are the end results of a life like this? Do I really have to allow myself to be beat up to follow Jesus? Do I really have to freely give my stuff away, without resistance — even more — does he really expect me to give more than what they are trying to take from me or to serve more than what is being required by a person in authority over me? Do I really have to live this way?

That’s what’s amazing about the way of Jesus! It doesn’t make any sense from the perspective of self-preservation. But that’s just it. That’s the complete wrong perspective.

Jesus has invited us to follow him, which means that we live life like him. That we watch how he talked…how he interacted with people…how he touched the untouchable…how he loved the disgraced…how he accepted the prostitute…how he forgave those who were intent on killing him. We stand at the shadow of the cross and hear his words echoing, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves take up their cross and follow me.” And from that vantage point, all rebuttals that Jesus was just talking rhetorically disappear.

Here is a radical God that is recklessly demonstrating the depth of love he has for us. It’s a love that transforms us to the very core. So much so, that it becomes who we are. It becomes what we offer. And at this point, we stop asking, “Does he really want me to do this?” and we begin asking, “Who is the next person I can share this with?” And this sharing is so much less about what we say…it’s about who we are. It’s about being willing to die so someone else might live!

Yeah, this is crazy – but what a beautiful way to live!