You Weren’t Worth it!

What if you were the one:

The one that Christians saw and got cold feet.

The one that believers passed by because they were afraid.

The one that everyone thought was ok.

The one that people just assumed didn’t need anything.

The one were folks reasoned, “I’ll talk to the next one”.

The one the church forgot.

The one that disciples neglected.

The one that was just another one that will find God some other way.

The one whose eternal fate wasn’t worth stopping for.

The one the rest of the world just didn’t have time for.

The one that every one else avoided eye contact with.

What if that person were you?  Would you object?  Would you enjoy knowing that others believe in eternal Heaven and Hell and yet didn’t bother to speak to you?  Spend some time today, and instead of trying to motivate yourself to be the good person… think about what if you weren’t.  Consider the impact of NOT doing anything from the other direction.  Can you walk past a starving person and throw food in the trash?  Can you enjoy laughter around those grieving?  Can you truly carry the Joy of Christ Jesus around so many lost… and not say anything… or do anything?

What if you weren’t worth it?  What if Jesus was not in your life?  What if you had no hope?  What if you had no future?  What if you had no relationship with the Father?  You were worth it!  You were worth the life Jesus spent away from God.  You were worth His sacrifice.  You were worth His death.  And they are too.  They are worth some discomfort and potentially awkward conversations.  They are worth your time.  They are worth your prayers.  You were worth it… and so are they!

Disciple up!  It’s not called the optional task on Sundays.  It’s not called the mediocre commission.  It’s called the Great Commission!

Jesus Didn’t Come to Win

The world doesn’t understand how Jesus lost for us.

We understand victory.  Triumph.  Splendor.  The cross was a dirty mess and it’s not in our nature to know what to do with that.

If you were a movie producer, how would you tell the story?  Whether it includes explosions, great speeches, or slapstick comedy, most of us would put a happy ending on the matter.  Just before the whip was raised… right as the crown of barbed thorns was lifted up… before the first nail was struck…

Something would have happened.  This wouldn’t even constitute a plot twist, it’s only natural for things to work out in the end.  Killing an innocent man is not a generally accepted principal.  Soldiers would have rushed in.  Angels would have descended.  The earth would have shook.  Supernatural.  Massive.  Epic.  Awesome.  We would have easily accepted these things.  But this story isn’t a fairy tale.  It doesn’t compete with summer blockbusters.

In this story, the innocent is brutally murdered… but the target was us.  He didn’t sacrifice Himself and then pull off an amazing, out of no where, attack scheme that allowed Himself to live too.  This is where we break away from the movies.  We didn’t all meet up afterwards for celebration.  We all didn’t make it.

God’s triumphant plan was not to blow the enemy away.  He came to save the lost.  This was more of a search and rescue.  And as the dust settles, we learn that we are saved through Him.  We learn of His sacrifice  We learn of His love.  And then we realize, He wasn’t just tortured and killed… He took our place.

And so we are left in this moment of miserable joy.  So happy that we are saved, so devastated that our sin held such a cost.  So excited that we serve someone willing to pay this price and yet so mournful of the horrible events endured by the one so loving.  We cheer, we cry, we laugh, we surrender to our knees and tremble.  How could someone do this for me?  What value am I?  And this holy, loving, perfect, one-true-God, He says, ‘this is what I’m willing to do for you… to reach you… to get through to you… to have you near me’.

The world doesn’t understand it because although many have died at the hands of the enemy, the body count still remains at one.  Jesus’ death is the one that ‘counts’.  Our sins are on Him.  For everyone else the price has been paid.  Our death is where the victory occurs.  And we really struggle understanding that sometimes.  We are so used to the phrase, “and they all lived happily ever after…”.  That only works by ending the story before its all over.  For us… because of Jesus… our story starts to get really good in the ‘end’.

And so those that believe sing that God is a “good Father” and that we are “Loved by Him”… perfectly defining the relationship.  A protective Father that loves us and is willing to sacrifice greatly for us.  And we, those deserving of a horrible fate, bask in His love for us.  We are not any adjective.  We are not our professions.  We are not the sum of our status’.  We are defined by God’s love for us.  We are a character in a story told about this amazing triumphant victory.  But that victory has to be chosen by the recipients.

It’s difficult to explain this amazing story where the Savior came to lose.  It takes time to wrap our heads and hearts around the fact that He came to lose for us.  In our place.  Instead of us.  Because He is a good Father and He loves us.  And we are loved by Him.  For 3 days Satan celebrated a short lived and greatly misunderstood victory.  Every day since is a celebration for us.  I think the important take away is that we can’t simply explain this story to others and have them accept it.  We have to show it to them.

They need to see the Savior.  We need to live like Him.  It’s a love story.  For God so loved the world… It’s a story that doesn’t make sense and it greatly needs an interpreter.  We can live those words.  We can share that love.  We can choose to be thankful for God’s gift and respect him with our actions.  We can show love.  We can show sacrifice.  We can teach through our choices.  And when we look enough like our Savior, the world will rejoice in the gift they find in Him.  After all, Jesus didn’t win in the traditional sense.  He didn’t come to win.  He came to love.  He came to serve.  He came to sacrifice.  You could argue He won by defeating Satan, but technically we can still choose to side with either one.  Which means we still have work to do. And its imperative that we learn to love the way Christ taught us.


Dogs Like Fried Chicken

I’m always amazed at seeing good people out in the world.  Sadly, I just don’t see it that often.  I don’t think I’m that jaded, I just see more selfishness than selflessness.  I don’t think people are evil, but we all tend to lose our focus very quickly.  When we aren’t looking up, we are looking out for ourselves.

But yesterday my faith was, once again, restored in humanity.  I learned a very valuable lesson.  Dogs like Fried Chicken.  I think I knew this already, but seeing it acted out amongst strangers was a sight to behold.

In the middle of an extremely busy town a dog got loose.  Running through intersections, weaving in and out of traffic, it was obvious that both the dog and its owners were a little freaked out.  At first, onlookers cringed every time he changed directions.  No one wanted to see the pup get hit.  Thankfully, he never did, because everyone in the immediate area seemed genuinely concerned about the safety of this animal.

Quickly, cringes turned to doors opening with people trying to catch the dog or corral him.  Over 20 car doors opened trying to assist as the dog approached each car in kind.  Crossing a major intersection, traffic began to back up in 4 different directions.  More car doors opened.  A policeman jumped out of his car and grabbed a toy he had handy.  Finally, when I thought, this freaked out dog will never let anyone near him…

A lady pulled to the median, popped her trunk and shuffled through some grocery bags.  A piece of warm, cooked fried chicken was in her hand and she began to wave it towards the dog.  Her lunch.  Most likely her families’ lunch.  Someone did without that day.  (or perhaps they ate less, or maybe there was another meat, but no matter how you look at it, she paid money for a meal that was better served to a dog than her family/friends).

I choked up a little at the humanity.  The sacrifice. The meaning of it all.  But what really brought it all home to me… in the entire ordeal… I never heard a single horn honk.  No beeping.  No swerving and speeding.  Collectively, this community (even though strangers, still) worked as a single unit to bring this dog back to his owner and keep him safe from the dangerous streets.  We all forgot about our hurried schedules and busy timelines.  We just wanted to get that puppy home.

While the parallels may seem obvious, I’d like to challenge us anyway:

Some of the gifts we have been blessed with deserve to go to someone else.  Perhaps even someone lesser in our eyes.  Pray for guidance that we give freely of ourselves.  We can do without some things.  We can sacrifice a bit for the gain of others.

When we see someone lost, we need to try and help them.  Even if we look silly, even if it feels inconvenient, even if we have to go out of our way… its worth it to bring someone home to the Father.

When someone else is trying to help, lets help them too.  They need support, courage, prayers, love, affirmation, and confidence to continue.

When someone finds their way home, we ALL have reason to celebrate.  We ALL have a stake in the game.  Somewhere in your life a dog is whining.  He is cold, scared, and in need of help.  When you reach out, he will run.  Don’t give up.  We’ve got chicken.  Lets get that dog home!