Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Good Friday Message

On this the night before Christians celebrate across the world, the great act of Atonement wrought on the Cross of Calvary, for all mankind, my heart is heavy indeed. Heavy because, my country is in such a state, such a terrible state. And which situation could be so easily turned around if our people and our leaders would, like the penitent thief on his Cross, acknowledge their sins and cry out to Christ, " Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom".
But no, instead they have taken on the role of the other thief, and continue to ignore, at best this gift of salvation, and at worse, " hurl insults" at the church, and thus at Christ Himself. Thus bringing into sharp focus the words of that wonderful hymn:

" Thou didst leave thy throne and thy kingly crown
When thou camest to earth for me....

and in particular the following verse:

Thou camest O Lord with the living word
That shouldst set thy people free
But with mocking scorn and a crown of thorn
They bore thee to Calvary.

So as I write my heart burns for those, who despite repeated attempts to touch their souls, remain stoutly and indeed proudly unbelievers. What a great pity! What a terrible sadness, as there is no good end to that kind of stubbornness, that kind of rebellion, that kind of pride. Also we should weep for those who come into the church, but have no great love for Jesus, no great appreciation of what happened on Good Friday, and thus they just go through the motions, and even get all excited too, in some cases. Thank God that they are there, but pray God that there would be some commitment to the God who died for all mankind - both thieves, not just the one who repented and so we should seek without ceasing even the one of out the ninety nine who is not safe and saved - the Jesus who came to serve and not to be served, the Jesus who forgives, and forgives, and forgives, those who revile Him and persecute Him. And not just filled with a desire to get " something" from Jesus the deliverer.

The one thing I have come to appreciate is that in the same way that all of us are being encouraged to know our ( HIV) status, for public health purposes, in the same way for our spiritual health - which has profound public and private consequences - it is vital that we know our status before a Holy God. That is the key, as without that knowledge of how sinful we are , and therefore subject to the wrath of God, we will never really love the Lord Jesus with all our heart, and seek only to honor and obey Him. So we pray God that on account of the witness of the church this Good Friday, individuals may be convicted of sin and thus join with the hymn writer in rejoicing and singing:

All the way to Calvary
He went for me, He went for me, he went for me
All the way to Calvary
He went for me and now he sets me free
Although I have so many, many sins
Jesus washed them all away and he pardoned me
Although I have so many, many sins
Jesus washed them all away and he pardoned me.

This week, as I did my devotions one morning, a meditation from Chris Tiegen struck a chord in my heart as he shared a perspective on our Spiritual Status .


"We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way". Isaiah 53:6

In Word

Long ago in a distant garden, God and humanity had perfect fellowship. We can only imagine what that was like, being so far removed from it today, but we can be sure it was an incredible experience. God's will was clearly known, His voice clearly heard, His presence clearly sensed. There was no need to diverge from His perfect path. There was enormous freedom to be completely, authentically human in His presence, with no shame involved. There were no unfulfilled desires and no disappointment. Humanity was in perfect harmony with the heart of God.
That all changed, of course, when a slithering liar created the illusion of unfulfilled desires and tricked humans into a will independent of their Creator's. The results, as we know were tragic, and we still feel the consequences of them today. Each of us has followed the path of our first parents; we all, like sheep, have gone astray and turned t our way. We became ruled by self-will and grew more blind and more deaf to the voice and the presence of God. Our sense dulled to the point where many of us have even wondered whether he exists. W became like patients in intensive care whose nutritional supply has been cut off, and we were slowly slipping away.
That's why The Messiah came, suffered, and died. We needed a life transfusion, and the only way to get it was for life to be drained from the Living One and given to us. Our death was reversed because a human not worthy of death came to us and died. His resurrection overcame the disaster of self-will. We no longer need to go our own way.

In Deed

The Shepherd could have cut His losses and let His sheep wander into oblivion, but He didn't. He came after His straying flock and brought us back into His pasture. When we understand what really happened in our fall and redemption, we can't help but marvel. Our fate was worse than we thought, and our salvation is greater than we think. All that's left is gratitude and love.

A true Christian is a man or woman who never for a moment forgets what God has done for him in Christ - John Baillie

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