Sometimes it’s nice (and necessary) to remember that it doesn’t matter how we’re feeling spiritually, but that God’s love toward us is unchanging.
(This post relates to my Christian faith).
Living Water by Brother Yun is a book that has sat on my shelf for years. I have started to read it a number of times and have put it down because it was special. It was a meal to be enjoyed, not gulped. It wasn’t a casual read on the bus; I wanted to read it with a notebook handy and time to properly digest its message.
This post is my thoughts and related experiences on the first chapter Repentance. (I normally try to keep my posts between 500 and 1,000 words. This is a longer post at over 2,000 so make yourself a cuppa and settle in for the read).
And just because I’ve quoted certain passages, doesn’t mean there isn’t much more quote-worthy between the pages…
Recently I was asked to write a little something for the lead-up to Easter for a church event. It was to be a “call and response”, something which I’m not really familiar with. The basic idea is that a caller says something (from the front), and then the response is given by the congregation.
Due to other commitments, I only had about three nights to write it. I’m reasonably happy with what I came up with. It will not be used verbatim, as I consider it a draft that can be re-worked by the event organiser. The congregational response is in italics.
He was at home in heaven, worshipped by the angels and in perfect unity with the trinity.
But we were separated, lost in our sin. The weight of the law too heavy and our natures corrupt.
He left comfort, unlimited power and heavenly majesty to enter the world as a babe.
You gave it up for us, knowing what the cost would be.
He came in stealth, not hailed as a King but miraculously, into humble circumstances and ridiculed by the community. He lived among us as a human, with all the highs and lows of life. The Word records that he grew in favour with both God and man.
You understand what it is to be human and can empathize with our struggles and temptations, but were without sin.
Few recognised him, but he came to save us; to be our salvation. To give us a way back into relationship, through truth and grace.
You came to bring a mirror to our hearts.
He was a friend to the sinner, the thief, the adulterer, the sick, the despised and the guilty. He looked down on none, nor hid his face from any who sought him. He was a friend and neighbour to all in need, coming with gentleness and love. A bruised reed he would not break, nor a smouldering wick put out. He saw us not with human eyes, but with a divine heart.
You taught us what it means to love, and what God expects. You did not condemn us for our sins or allow others to, but instead forgave us and called us to repentance.
He was welcomed as a King, but came on his own terms. He rejected power, fame and wealth and sought only to do the Father’s will. His eyes were always focused on the eternal. He knew his blood would be poured out and his body broken for the forgiveness of our sins.
You did it for us, while we were still sinners.
In the Garden we saw his humanity, overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. He begged the Father to save him from his fate. Those he had brought along slept during his emotional heartache.
Fearful but obedient, you did it for us. You did it for me.
Before the Sanhedrin and Pilot, he was falsely accused; betrayed and abandoned by friends. He who has been faithful through all time felt the repeated sting of faithlessness. He was innocent.
I am not. Someone had to pay the price, and you didn’t want it to be me.
Pilot would not save him. He who is perfectly Just, received no justice. They stripped him and mocked him. He was beaten and spat on. His head, deserving of a royal crown, was pierced by a cruel crown of thorns.
You wore the crown for me.
He was whipped without mercy, his back shredded, bloody and torn by iron and bone.
By my sin and iniquity.
They lay him on the cross. How his humanity must have wanted to flee, to call on the angels to protect him. Obedience held him there, firmer than any human hands could. But obedience would not have held the fear or pain away.
All he ever did was care for humanity, loving us and wanting to restore us. And the judgement for our sin came down on him, again and again – THUD, THUD, THUD as the nails were driven through his hands and then his feet.
You paid the price for me. You took my guilt and shame.
What unspeakable agony he must have endured upon that cross of ours, as flesh, muscle, bone and nerves were broken or pushed aside by iron spikes. He screamed out, that we would not have too. His body was broken that ours could remain whole. His life was cut short, that ours could go on for eternity.
You were pierced for my transgressions and crushed for my iniquities. My rightful punishment fell upon you.
Even upon the cross, he asked the Father to grant us mercy.
It is who you are. You are good beyond all measure.
At his death the curtain in the temple was torn; the barrier between God and man removed. A new covenant was created and sealed by his blood. He came to open the eyes of the blind, to set captives free and release those who are trapped in darkness.
I am not worthy of your love and mercy, but I gratefully accept it. Examine my heart, Lord God, and see if there is anything offensive within it. You are my God and my life belongs to you.
Though this post talks about the Christian Bible, you don’t need to agree with the faith or the authenticity of the book to understand this post. It is my position that the Bible is THE greatest story ever written (regardless of if it’s factual or not).
This post is for my brothers and sisters in Christ (Christians). If that doesn’t interest you, feel free to move on with your daily browsing…
If you had to choose an attribute from the below list, which would you choose?
- Might (aka Power)
- Fear of the Lord
The bloody cross was the way a lost humanity could be reunited with a holy God.Jesus was scourged with a whip because our sins required punishment. He was executed upon a cross because our sins required atonement. He – the Son of God – was willing to provide it.
In doing so, he made a way for us to be restored to God.
…Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:11-13)
Isaiah 53:10-13 completes the prophetic passage that refers to Jesus: mentioning his death, resurrection and the relationship that is offered.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
Here is my editing progress after the first chapter (+ prologue). The red line is the target and the green line is the actual.
I started with 3,500 words and have cut it down to just under 3,000 (15% reduction). I expect to re-write scene 2 of the prologue though so expect that to inflate; but so far so good.
I am trying to be brutal with my editing: deleting anything which does not progress the plot.
“They may offer to bring down the moon; it’s what they can deliver that is the salient point.” (deleted dialogue)
Unity in the Church
I am so grateful that in a time in our country where we’ve got more tension than we’ve had since the 1960s, I can come to a place like Life Church and I’m surrounded by people from varying backgrounds and different races and black worshiping next to white, worshiping next to Hispanic, and Mexican and native American and every other culture that is connected and the only colour that matters is red and it’s the blood of Jesus.
From LifeChurch, Going the Distance (week 1). John Gray