Salvation, rescue, reconciliation. On this side of history, the hope of the Cross rings in our ears. Love and good news: Jesus overcame death to make right our brokenness. The part of the story we hear the most is, of course, beautiful in its own right, but it is not the whole story. The reality is, every step toward that beautiful end is gruesome, offensive, troublesome, and uncomfortable for those who will entertain it close to the heart.
We see death in so many corners these days. Wars and cancers and mental illness gone haywire. Children harmed and discarded in unfathomable violence. Hate and division and frantic searching for the wrong kind of love. Lust, corruption, and greed that is so pervasive, it literally robs life from others without so much as a blink. We close our eyes as our hearts beat fast and we wipe our cheeks of the tears that fall, some for sympathy, some for fear that we, ourselves, will not be able to avoid hardship or certain death if we do not cleverly step around the mines that are surely everywhere.
But friends, we are not able to live with our eyes closed. As difficult as it is, this is the world we live in. Every one of us will die. Every one of us will see and experience and wrestle with the darkness that seeks to smother out life. We will be courted by evil in the sneakiest ways, and we will be invited to raise up walls as our own defense…walls which will certainly fall as soon as darkness rings the doorbell.
We cannot hope to be our own defense. Our confidence cannot be in ourselves. For what refuge does the clay pot have of itself, except in the hands of the One who formed it?
Even Jesus did not defend Himself. He chose not to, remaining silent as He was wrongfully accused, mocked, beaten, tortured, and raised with nails in His hands and feet, to introduce the world to a love that it can barely recognize, let alone accept. He chose, with His own tears and fast beating heart, to obey His Father and walk the hardest road…a road that we are invited to join Him on.
We cannot expect to be spared suffering if we are truly on the road with Him, taking up the Cross He invited us to carry in His footsteps. We must choose love at great cost to ourselves, live obedience at great cost to our egos, and become the broken bread for the lost ones around us who are in desperate need of the Gospel’s hope; a flesh-and-blood encounter with Jesus.
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:1-11
681. the greatest price, paid for me, 682. the greatest love made real to me, 683. the hard surrender that brings about joy, 684. the example of ultimate self-sacrifice, 685. the beauty of all things made new through Him, 686. the hope of glory for those who believe, 687. the invitation to be love on the ground, filled to be poured out, 688. redemption and rescue, 689. unfathomable mercy, 690. treasures found in the obedient life