Monday, April 18, 2016

A Fool for Christ

I’m going to take a break from our vision and share with you some random thoughts over the next several weeks. Today, I want to share with you what I shared with the All-Church Good Friday Service this past Good Friday March 25th, 2016.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness…” Seems like it. I mean, to believe that a guy, 2,000 years ago thought he was God and had to die one of the most brutal deaths to save humanity. Seems pretty foolish.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness…” Seems like it. Jesus’ closest disciples, who were hiding in fear because their Master had been killed, and then who stood before the people that had killed Jesus and started proclaiming that, that same Jesus had raised from the dean just as he had said he would.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness…” Yeah. Following Jesus’ death and resurrection, each and every one of his closest disciples faced a life of beatings, and most eventual death, for their belief in this Jesus who said he was God and was dying to save the world. Peter and Andrew were crucified. Thomas was run through by a lance. James was thrown off the temple in Jerusalem and then killed by rocks that were thrown by people when he didn’t die from the fall. All the others died for telling others about this Jesus. Except for John, who was boiled in oil and then had to spend the rest of his life in exile on a prison island.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness…” It is. Then there’s this guy named Paul, who had a great career and life ahead of him. Who fought against the Christians that proclaimed Jesus. This guy Paul, gave it all up to follow and side with these Jesus people. 
“For the message of the cross is foolishness…” It is. For the three hundred years following Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection, those who believed Jesus’ disciple’s message, who never actually met Jesus, but decided to believe anyway, they were hunted down, tortured, turned into amusement for the Roman people who watched these Christians be brutally killed right in front of them.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness…” Yeah it is. Throughout the 2,000 years that have come and gone, countless Christians have gone to far off nations to proclaim Jesus to people that would eventually kill them. Like Jim Elliot who went to some brutal tribe down in South America, back in the 1950’s. Elliot died with his missionary buddies, but that’s not the craziest thing. The craziest thing is that Elliot’s wife, took the other wives of the dead husbands and went back to that same tribe to tell them about Jesus. Sure it worked out, but still, it was foolish.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness…” Yeah it is. Right now in the Middle East, India and in places all over the world, Christians are being imprisoned, beaten and dying for a Jesus they never saw walk this earth. A Jesus that died on a cross, and who was raised from the dead three days later.  They are giving up their lives for a Jesus who lived 2,000 years ago. They are giving up the world and all it has to offer for this Jesus. These people and all who have put their trust into Jesus as their Savior are fools.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness…”  It is, and I am a fool too. In May of 2000, I had only two choices in my life. My first choice was to continue my destructive life and to continue breaking the relationships I had with friends and family. A path that was spiraling out of control. Or the other choice, to follow Jesus. To accept what Jesus did on the cross for me. To accept that I was in need of what he had done for me. The Bible teaches that there is a gulf between God and man. This gulf happened and is happening now because we want to do our own thing. We tell God that his ways are not good enough for us and we want to do our own thing. We rebel against his laws, and commands, and the Bible calls those actions sin.
Sin is falling short, missing the mark of what God created us to be. And I know, when I look in my life that I have this sin, I have this rebellion, I have this rejection of God within me. And by embracing this sin, I embrace the only thing sin can pay me with, and that’s both my physical and spiritual death.
But the Bible also teaches that God hasn’t given up on us. Even though we reject him, he fights for us, because he knows that our path leads to destruction and separation from him for eternity. That separation means, that the glimpses of joy and goodness we experience here in this lifetime, will be gone forever. 
But God doesn’t want us to be separated from him by our sin, by the gulf we’ve created by rebelling against him. The Bible teaches us that God saw that none could do it, so he himself came to earth, wrapped himself in flesh, lived the life that we were created to, but haven’t. Jesus lived a life where sin had no right to collect on the payment of death, like it has the right in my life. Yet even though each of us deserves death, Jesus took death for us. Even though he didn’t deserve it, he said I will take it.
But not just any death; not a death that was easy or quick. He took a death that is still considered today as being one of the most brutal humanity has ever created. He took a death that saw the layers of skin stripped away, until only vein, muscle and bone lay exposed. He took a death that had nails driven into his hands and feet. He took a death that had a splintered cross cut into his body. He took a death that held him in agony for hours, until everything that needed to be done for us, for me, was accomplished.
Jesus overcame my sin, he overcame my death and he provided a way for me to come to God forgiven, healed and in a right relationship with him.
Since May of 2000, I have walked with Jesus, I have talked with Jesus, I have seen him guide my life, felt him comfort me when I’ve fallen and renewed me when all my strength has left me.
I am a fool, and I am glad to be one.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
We could talk about all the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. We could talk about how Jesus compares against every other religious leader who ever walked the earth. We could discuss and come up with a theological, biblical breakdown of the need for the cross. But until you experience the Jesus that Peter did, that Paul did, that Jim Elliot did, that the Christians who are dying around the world for their faith did, that I have, it will be foolishness to you. And I, I’ll be just another fool. But I stand in good company. Because I stand with Christians, not just in my own life time, but throughout history.

We are fools, because we have experienced the power of the cross and we have been called to share it with you. That you would know the power and love of God and that you would stand with me as a fool.
I don’t know where you’re at today. I don’t know if you’re a Christian or you’re not. I don’t know if you are as I was, caught in a place where you only have two choices. Or whether you have made the choice of Jesus. But I do know this, you are loved by God. You have been shown this love by Jesus dying on the cross for you.
And you are invited today to begin a life with Jesus and experience what he has for you. Today, I challenge you, not to say a prayer, but to take an action and stand every step of your life proudly accepting the title that the world gives to Christians, a Fool for Christ.

What will you do?

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