Day 22 of Lent

What brings you joy and what makes you roll your eyes?  What things (or people?) are you most committed to or most worried about losing?  What angers you?  What do you desire?  What are you passionate about?  What do you spend your resources on?  Do you have a cause in your life worth dying for?  What do you love?

What can you laugh at?

I'm sure if you and I answered these questions we would learn a lot about each other.

Put all these together and we might find a "shortcut" to describe the reality that is ourselves.  That, my friend, is a label.  What label is most important to you in who you are?

I know many people who would say the greatest label that describes them is "Christian" - in other words, they want to identify with the person of Jesus Christ.  Behind that label we find a description of reality that should mean we desire to be like Jesus.  It is in a way giving Jesus props for sure.  In other words if you are thankful for Jesus saving you then you can identify with him - but that appreciation is shown so much more in your response to his love - not just accepting a particular label.*

So let us be done with this nonsense of calling ourselves Christian and not wanting to be like Christ.

If we cannot be joyful with what makes Jesus joyful, we have some growing to do.  In a different way, I really am asking not "What would Jesus do?" but "What would Jesus grow in you?"  How can I look more like Jesus?  It would be so cool if rather than starting from an earthly reality and having to think about God's heavenly perspective, I simply cut to the chase and adopt a heavenly perspective?  We must literally become like Jesus - not a follower who must consult before each and every choice.

There are so many attitudes... so many choices... so many things to be excited about.  We might not know God, but we know the story of God's people.  We might not know God, but we know God's son.  We might not know him perfectly, but we have been given Scripture, tradition, experience, and reason to know him better.

Through those revelatory mediums I can, as I know him better, get a better grip of when Jesus would say "amen!"

Someone coming to faith?  Amen!  Someone being fed?  Amen!  Clothed?  Amen!  Sacrificial giving?  Amen!  Reading Scripture?  Amen!  Upholding the sanctity of life (before and after birth)? Amen!  Coming out of oppression?  Amen!  Giving up our need to oppress?  Amen! And giving up hating the oppressors?  Amen!  Giving up hating the oppressed... amen!  Overcoming addiction? Amen!  Giving up self so that others may live?  amen! (I use a little "a" for that amen because I wrestle with this revelation more than any other.  I continue to discover how a death is required before a resurrection can occur.  I say this, of course, looking at my own life in light of Jesus' life.)

Bombing another country?  ... .... .... Placing my trust in money?  sex?  power? (something other than God)?  ... ... ...  Holding on to excessive "blessings" just in case? ... ... ... Accepting a victim mentality that will not grasp Jesus' saving grace? ... ... ... Placing holiness above compassion? .... ... ...

I'm not asking if God does what God wants within Scripture.  I'm asking if Jesus does.  What is God's greatest response to the anger, doubt, ignorance, violence, wars, hypocrisy, disconnects, and apathy of the world?  To send this guy named Jesus.  Who showed us how to live perfectly.  Showed us how to die perfectly.  Showed us that resurrection awaits those who call on his name (after death).

There is a reason the cross is lifted up as the greatest revelation into the nature of Christ/God.  Jesus (as Alan Storey and others like to say) is God's answer to a bad reputation.  To put it another way- If Jesus would say amen to it, we should as well.  If he wouldn't, we shouldn't.

I'm not saying that is easy - after all, Jesus knew God the Father perfectly and sought the Father's will, perfectly (and we killed him for it).  We have a ways to go to get to understanding God's nature perfectly.

But hey, 22 days into Lent is certainly not too late.  Let's wrestle with it.

What kind of things can you imagine Jesus saying "Amen!" to and what do Christians say "Amen!" to that you think Jesus might have a problem with?

* - Yes.  We are saved by grace.  We are saved by Jesus doing something we cannot do ourselves.  Amen and all that.  By God's grace that unconditional love never gives up on us actually trying to live into that grace, however. And anyone who tells you different has lost their hope in Jesus Christ.