Why did Jesus die? The answer seems to be obvious: Jesus came to save us from our sins, to save our souls, because He loves us so much. This is what we are told, and this is what we tell others. Getting people saved becomes many people’s first priority as Christians. But is this the only reason why Jesus came to die?
Do you ever struggle with doubt? I do. It seems almost daily I wonder if I will be strong enough, tall enough, wise enough or funny enough to pull something off. So after pondering for a while and getting twisted up in my skepticism I often get a sense of doubt. I think it is human nature and I bet I am not alone.
The Bible is filled with doubters.
- Gideon doubted God and needed assurance several times through a series of miracles in Judges 6.
- Abraham and Sarah doubted God (they actually laughed too!) when thinking a person Sarah’s age could bear a child. (Gen. 17)
- Mary doubted God with the death of Lazarus. (John 11) If you would have come earlier she said, he would not have died. Could Jesus not healed him even then? Was it too late?
And then there is the king of doubters, Thomas. The man who has been dubbed “doubting Thomas.” Thomas was not in the room when Jesus first appeared to the disciples and because his eyes did not see the wounds and his hands the hole in Jesus’s side Thomas doubted. After all, he had probably witnessed first hand the crucifixion, could Jesus be living again?
Boston was the place where my eyes were first opened to poverty. “Why are those people sleeping in a box mommy?” It was at this place and point in my life that I can now look back and see that God was at work. Seeing the homeless community for the first time really rocked my world as a ten-year-old boy. I returned home from that experience and immediately starting asking my parents how I could help. We devised a plan that included picking up aluminum beer and soda cans along the road on the way home from church. I collected and recycled the cans and took the money and gave it to a homeless mission in Philadelphia called “Trevor’s Place”…
I John 4:12 “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
30,000…what a huge number! Does it pertain to the cost of a car, the cost of a year of college, the cost of a daughter’s wedding? Does it have anything to do with money? Not with money…not at all; rather, it’s lives…the lives of precious children around the world who are starving or suffering from treatable diseases. 30,000…the number of children who die daily. This is staggering and yes, oh so very costly. What can we do? What should we do? Most assuredly, get started at something. “The problem is too big.” or “I can’t comprehend that” are merely unacceptable excuses. As Christians, the love and compassion we have for all mankind is the place to start. Call up that love and compassion, focus on others, hop out of the box of personal security and step into the unknown where you will find ample opportunity to serve others. In doing so, you will experience abundant joy and fulfillment.
You’ve probably experienced it before. You do a simple activity like cooking a meal for yourself and it is boring and uninteresting. But you cook a meal for a homeless person and it is full of joy, significance and meaning.
You dig a hole in your yard for planting a shrub and it is all you can do to finish the backbreaking job without complaining about the hardiness of the soil or the aches and pains you will have in your back tomorrow. It’s tiring, arduous and not overly fun. But when you dig a 20-foot trench for an irrigation pipe for orphans in Africa it is exciting, inspiring and meaningful. Why?
I really hate suffering. Anything even approaching suffering is just…so…painful. I go into whiney martyr-for-Christ mode if I have to unload my fancy dishwasher three times in one day or if I have to wait an extra hour to eat breakfast. (Go ahead and roll your eyes. I am.)
I am well aware of the fact that there are actual Christ-followers being martyred in the Middle East as I write this. I work for an organization that helps the poorest of the poor. So I know deep down that my experiences don’t even touch the fringe of suffering. Why doesn’t this knowledge change my spoilt child reaction to daily life?
I don’t know. Maybe because I’m an American comfort-addict.
This month, we have had some great blogs focusing on the idea of restoring dignity (and more to come). Seriously, if you missed Anna’s reflection on February 2, you really NEED to take a few minutes and read it!
Mostly, we’ve been talking about how love restores dignity to the vulnerable. This week, as we look forward to Ash Wednesday on February 18, I find myself reflecting on my own need for restorative love. Only by receiving restoration and dignity can I offer it to others.
Many of us from an early age learn to wear ‘masks’ to hide who we really are in an attempt to make others like and respect us. We may hide our weaknesses and flaws, but in reality, we are not realizing our God-given potential because we are bound by an incorrect, unhealthy attitude toward self. When our attitudes toward self are distorted, we are not able to fully fulfill the unique role that God has created for us in His divine plan.
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Galatians 5:14
I love to simplify. Much of my job for the last 10 years has been to take less than easy concepts and teach them to people with little to no education. I enjoy the challenge of sitting down and pondering what is the most essential thing that we need to know on any topic. If we strip away everything but the core, what would be left?
I remember sitting in the back of a car traveling through the mountains of Bolivia when my driver, a professing Christian, finished his yogurt snack and chucked the empty yogurt container out of his window. I was appalled! How could someone blatantly litter and not feel guilty? I wanted to ask him if he thought that plastic container would just mysteriously melt in the sun??? Or remind him that basic science has discovered that it will take his plastic container 450 years to decompose!