Monday, July 27, 2009

The ultimate sacrifice

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

One of the hardest concepts for humans to understand about God is the level that God loves us. I believe the reason it’s so hard to comprehend is that we have no basis of comparison, next to the love of God, our own ability to love pales. Many people imagine God as a supreme being sitting on a throne, watching over the universe, and unconcerned with the individual lives of us mere mortals.

Along with this feeling is the feeling that God changed once Christ died on the cross, and he stopped talking to men like in the Old Testament. The fact is, God didn’t change, and he still talks to people, just like in the Old Testament, we just have to learn to listen.

When he sent Christ to become the ultimate sacrifice, he did it to save us. Verse 17 says, “For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” God sacrificed his own son, not to widen the distance between him and man, but to make himself more accessible to man.

At the moment of Christ’s death, the temple curtain was torn in half (Matthew 27:51) ending the time when people had to go to priests for forgiveness. God paid the ultimate price, the life of his son, so that we no longer have to fear going directly to him to ask for forgiveness. We will never be perfect. We will still make mistakes, and fall short, BUT because of Christ’s sacrifice, can still be acceptable to God.

God sees us for who we are, every flaw, every sin, and yet all he asks of us is that we accept his son, and ask for forgiveness. It’s not an easy concept to grasp, but Christ gave us a story to make it a little easier. The story is the parable of the prodigal son, it is found in Luke 15:11-32. The message is, there is no love greater than a father to his children, and even if you go astray, he will be ready to take you back, and forgive unconditionally.

Challenge: Ask for forgiveness, and have faith that he has.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Looking for a little acceptance

Romans 15:7
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

My friend and I were walking home from work, having one of our philosophical discussions. I’m coming from the position of a Christian, and he is coming from an agnostic viewpoint. He doesn’t deny the truth of the bible, or that Christ is who he says he is, but for him there are still too many unanswered questions. This particular morning his question was geared toward why Christ chose the 12 disciples in his circle of friends. Instead of church leaders, and people of great influence, he chose fishermen and men of “questionable character.”

Christ accepted the disciples for who they were, not for the prestige they could bring him and his message. He knew that Peter would deny his involvement with Christ, and he knew Judas would betray him out of greed, and yet he still accepted them. It’s easy to accept a person just like yourself, but what about someone totally opposite?

True relationships come from accepting a person for who they are, regardless of their strengths and weaknesses. Of course, if we only accept those like ourselves, we would never grow, or learn to see things in a different way. The narrow-minded view of non-acceptance often results in cliques, racism, segregation, and has even led to hate crimes. I know those seem a little drastic, but they are all consequences of a lack of acceptance.

Christ accepted people for who they were. He knew that people were more than just a job title, or fancy clothes. He could see past the external shell to the heart, where the true character of a person is. If Christ accepted his followers for who they were, then we should follow his example, and accept others for who they are, without prejudice, or judgement.

Challenge: Don’t try to mold someone else to what you feel they should be. Learn from the example of Christ, and accept them for what they are.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Share the love

1 John 1:7
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his son, purifies us from all sin.

According to the book “The 7 Habits for Highly Effective People”, there are three stages of maturity; the dependent stage, the independent stage, and the interdependent stage.

In the dependent stage, we rely on everyone else to give us what we need and want. The idea is I win at the expense of another person’s time, money, and energy.

The independent stage is where we do everything for our selves and we just don’t need anyone else. The thought behind the independent stage is I win on my own. I don’t ask anyone to give me anything so it costs them nothing.

The problem with both of these stages is they are very self-serving. No one benefits from your win but you. In interdependence, we have matured to the level that everything is about us. We can work together for a common goal. In other words, when I win, you win.

When we walk in the light with God, we have reached the level of maturity where we are no longer the center of our universe. We realize that our actions have an impact on the lives of others, and we start to look for the option where everyone wins.

According to the “American Heritage Dictionary”, the word fellowship is defined as “The sharing of the same interests, ideals, or experiences.” Fellowship is at the highest level of interdependence, and is required if we are to love as Christ loves.

Many people describe a good solid relationship as “give and take” but fellowship is way beyond that. Give and take are both words that denote ownership. “I own this and I GIVE it to you.” “You own that and you have offered it, so I will TAKE it.” When we fellowship we SHARE what we have without ownership.

The best example I can give of this is my writing. When I write I get great pleasure out of it, and often I say that it’s the only pleasure I can afford myself, but I don’t write something for my eyes only. The truth is, I don’t own that ability; I received the ability from God to share with others. If I keep it to myself, I lose the ability to help someone who might benefit from the perspective I can offer. I know there are others who have helped me through their own unique perspective, and in this way, I can pass the favor along.

If we are to have the type of fellowship God meant for us to have, we must “love one another as Christ loved us.”

Challenge: Choose to use your gifts to benefit others, and enjoy the fellowship.