Friday, October 19, 2007

An Intermission If You Will...

Just the other day I finished the gospel of Mark again and when I neared the end I began to focus on the whole concept of Mark, especially the end. The end of the gospel concludes swiftly (as Mark is written from event to event in a rather straight forward way) with the last two chapters telling of Jesus being given over to Pilate, Jesus' flogging, the soldiers who mocked Jesus, His crucifixion, resurrection, and charge to his disciples before being taken back into Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. As I thought about Jesus and the story of His life I realized that in order for my life to be truly revealed through Jesus Christ is to give completely of my whole self just as Jesus did. Giving constantly of your gifts, time, energy, and any opportunity to share your faith with someone who is lost and seeking for truth-these suggestions are just scratching the surface of what truly being revealed through Jesus really means.
Jesus made it all, loved all, prayed it all, lived it all without sin, and gave it all. He is truly the ultimate example of who we should be but can't be by ourselves. Paul writes in 1 Cor. Chapter 1 "4I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge— 6because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. 7Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful." Paul was speaking to the church at Corinth giving thanks to God for allowing Jesus Christ to be revealed through their lives. Paul knew that only through Christ believers can live their life to the fullest through their purpose for which God designed them. I pray that we can be enriched so much through Jesus that people can't help but notice we love Him and live our lives according to the purpose which He assigned our lives from the beginning.
When we identify ourselves with Jesus Christ, God calls us to be in continual fellowship with Him while he upholds our strength until the end and finds no fault with our lives. That is an amazing gift from God that shows God's faithful character and His love for us. I love the following verses in chapter 1 of 1 Cor. that explains how God uses normal people like me to do amazing things for Him. "26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: 'Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.'" There is nothing I can do to gain salvation. It is all a gift from God. Religious leaders during Jesus' time believed that the law, if followed, could gain a man salvation. When Jesus came and offered the simple gift of salvation, he blew away any pretense that religious leaders had that this coming Messiah was a great King who could restore Israel and deliver them from their enemies (Rome at the time). But when Jesus came and restored life through grace and a deep love for people the religious leaders returned to their law books to seek salvation. They viewed what Jesus had done as foolishness because this type of salvation made no sense by human standards. So God used this foolishness to shame the wise.
By human standards it really doesn't make sense but by God's standards Jesus was the only way for mankind to be redeemed to their Creator! And lo and behold, it is the only way. Jesus was, is, and is to come our salvation, forever. Since we cannot gain salvation ourselves, we can only boast in Jesus and allow Him to be revealed through our lives! People need Jesus and we need to be ambassadors for Him!

I love this description of Jesus by Brennan Manning in his book Above All:
[Jesus Christ] He is the prophet, poet, and troublemaker, the scourge of hypocrites and authority figures who use religion to control others, sending them sagging under great burdens of regulations, watching them stumble and refusing to offer assistance. He excoriates the perverted spirit of legalism and the smug religious bureaucrats who condemn simple folks who for good reasons have broken bad religious laws. When he looks out at the bedraggled, beat-up, bollixed, and burnt-out, his heart overflows with unspeakable tenderness. (pp. 35-36)

And later on...

Jesus is not merely a super-human being with an intellect keener than ours and a capacity for loving greater than ours. In the most literal sense of the word, he is unique. Uncreated, infinite, totally other, he surpasses and transcends all human concepts, considerations, and expectations. He is beyond anything we can intellectualize or imagine. Thus, Jesus is a scandal to men and women everywhere, because he cannot be comprehended by the rational, finite mind. (p. 37)

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