I’ve blogged before about living with godly priorities (for the future) and about remembering what God has done in the past, which are both important. We cannot however live with our focus always in the past or future for if we do, you will find that you are not alert to what is happening right now.
I’ve often read the New Testament with a sense of jealousy. To have been a disciple and lived a life walking and talking every day with Jesus, watching His every move, would have been amazing. What I have so often failed to recognise to its fullest potential however is that this is still available today. Jesus is still alive today, He rose from the dead, His saving work is finished however the coming of His Kingdom is still yet to be reached in its fullness. He is still at work through His Spirit to empower Christians as much as He was at work in the Early Church (Mark 16:6). We seem to recognise this when we look to our salvation in the past or look to the possibilities of the future, but what about today? Jesus is as much alive today as He was when Lazarus was raised from the grave, when the blind was made to see, when hearts were opened, when the scriptures were revealed, and the Spirit within us allows us to know God as much as our hearts desire! I know that I need to recognise and apply this truth in a much more powerful way each and every day.
If we look to the future without regards to today we can simply be lost in a state of dreaming of “one day” and we lose what we are to be doing in this day, including giving glory to God in the every day. If we look back to the past too often, whether it be good or bad elements of it, it robs us of the here and now. Wanting to re-live the glory days or produce an experience like what ‘once was’ is dangerous to the now, because God works according to His good purposes, and He may be wanting to do something new for this season. Looking back with an unhealthy obsession with our sin can also be damaging. As a wise man once told me that while recognising what God has saved you from is important, living with guilt rather than gratitude and forever asking for forgiveness for what has been forgiven is simply another way of saying that Gods work on the cross was not powerful enough.
So what is Jesus doing in and through your life this day, this moment? How is His life changing yours?
A whole nation filled with non-Christians celebrating Christmas does not surprise me too much – after all the safe arrival of any baby brings cause to celebrate, let alone the son of God. Then there is Santa (Saint Nicolas) who brings the gift of God into light, and the joy of it all can bring a smile to any face. Easter however is another story, an occasion to remember the brutal murder of the Son of God and have joy in His resurrection from the dead three days later because it means we can access the saving grace of God – it’s no wonder the Easter Bunny arrived on the scene!
The fact is, the good news of this incredible saving grace of God, His great love for us, and our own need for salvation is confronting and I struggle daily with the question “how on earth do I communicate this gospel truthfully to my 2 year old without giving him nightmares?” How do I explain that the vile torture and murder of God on a cross and His overcoming death is good news because of what it accomplishes for us? That we actually deserve the punishment given Him? That the physical torture and death was not the worst Jesus endured that day, but the wrath of God being poured out on Him? It actually draws me closer to God as I realise that it is only going to be by the Spirit of God that I can communicate this complex and overwhelming truth. It checks my heart for gratitude and understanding, after all one of the greatest problems we face is desensitisation to the reality of it all.
Why this non-Christian nation of ours would chose to make this eternity-changing celebration a national holiday is beyond me, but I am so grateful for it. May we make the most of every opportunity it brings us to share the truth, but may it also remind us to reflect on the foundation of our faith and life – the gospel (story) of Jesus Christ our God and Saviour.
This Easter I am going to try and read the passion (death) of Christ like it was the first time I read it. I’ll take communion and listen to some worship that centres on the sacrifice of God – Old School songs like “Servant King,” or today’s worship like “To Know your Name” by Hillsong. Let’s all make sure we celebrate the bittersweet truth of the gospel this Easter, don’t just let this weekend drift by – after all, it is an opportunity Christians of many nations do not have.
“When the centurion and those who were with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’ “ Matthew 27:54