Wednesday, March 19, 2008

responding to the cross

Imagine this… you are crossing a busy street and somehow never see an oncoming car. A man you’ve never seen before rushes into the street, gently pushes you out of harms way, and takes the impact of the car in your place. By the time the ambulance comes, they find him taking his last breath in your arms. A few days later, a family member of the man comes by and gives you an envelope that reads “To be opened by the one I will die saving.”

You open the letter…

You don’t know me yet, but I want you to know that I know you. I know your name, your fears, and your joys. I was put on this earth for one reason – to save you from death. If you are reading this note, it means I have accomplished what I came to do.

Knowing I did this for you, can I ask you to do something for me? Will you live differently? From a new perspective – so different that no single day of your life will ever be the same? I ask that you live for others, just as I did for you. Give yourself completely, just as I did for you. Out of your love for me, do everything you can to heal and save the world, just as I did for you.

I ask that you let my dying in your place ignite in you a life of passion, love, and selflessness. In order to be a better place, the world needs you desperately. Your hands and your feet. And you will do even greater things than this.

I love you.

After reading that note, I assume that (after being amazed at this person’s devotion to you) you would commit to live the rest of your life in honor of the one who saved you? Would it not be the least you could do, given the fact that he gave his own life so you could save yours?

When I think about the crucifixion of Jesus, what disturbs me is how much time I spend on earth oblivious to the fact that every moment of my life is intended to be used to honor and glorify him. Every day, not just occasionally... Every hour, not just a few hours a week... Every minute… Every breath... Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have new hope, new purpose, and a new passion for life. His sacrificial death in our place should encourage and empower us to be world changers!

To be sure, Jesus died to save us from sin. But once we receive that gift of salvation and commit to follow him, he makes clear that our new lives have just the begun. Once we have come to know Jesus, we must passionately embrace the mindset that there is much work to be done! It is our responsibility as Christians to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth! Jesus taught that we will fail at this if our faith in him is casual. In fact, he said I’d rather you have no faith at all, than a false “claimed” faith that isn’t even real.

Before Jesus died he said that in order to be called his disciples, we too must bear our own crosses. He commands us to travel against the mainstream of society and take the narrow road. To follow Jesus means to pursue the hard task of taking his truth and love to the marginalized, the poor, the unloved, the misfits, and the hopeless. When we consider the cross, are we motivated to do these things?

To see the cross accurately means to reject the comforts and luxuries of the world, recognizing that the beaten and bloodied Jesus you see could have come in the form of prestigious king, but chose not to.

To see the cross correctly is to be inspired to emulate the life of the one bearing it – dedicating our earthly lives to service, love, and sacrifice – with an understanding that the pursuit of success, comfort, wealth, security, beauty, luxury, reward, prestige, and riches are all being stored up for us in heaven in direct correlation to our rejection of them on earth.

Our family's theme for Easter this year is not only to be thankful for the cross, but to let it inspire us to live out the radical love of Jesus. I fear that too often we come before the cross in humble thanks, but basically stop at that. It’s almost as if we see the crucified Jesus and unintentionally say “glad it was you and not me.” When the truth is…Jesus is calling us to join him, and in doing so receive greater blessings than we could ever imagine.

I hope this Good Friday & Resurrection Day will inspire you to live each day wildly and radically for the one who gave his life away for you!