Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Uncomfortable Truth About The Gospel

Surgent by fs999, on Flickr

There's something about Jesus that makes me uncomfortable. The way he took the expectations of an entire people and turned them on their heads. They were so sure, they knew exactly who he was going to be. They knew so much they could not even recognize him when he arrived.

He was subversive. We want a conqueror, a warrior. He showed us a servant. We wanted him to set us free from our earthly troubles. He set us free from our eternal ones. We wanted him to prove himself, he let us murder him to do it. We wanted glory, he showed us the path through shame.

At each of our hearts is a struggle with our own selfish natures. Why can't I be first? Why not me? How come God doesn't pay special attention to me. It's all about me. We stand with our megaphones and shout into the skies and wait for the response which never comes. Are we even listening?

Jesus has so much more in mind.

He beckons you out to the wide ocean, with nothing but rolling waves in front of you. The clouds on the horizon darken with tumultuous menace. The wind, now gentle against your face carries a chill of coming ferocity; yet he beckons you to follow. Your instincts are begging you to stay on the shore, clawing at your sanity to keep you where you will be safe, yet he beckons. A step into the cold water is a step into uncertainty, a step forward in faith. Jesus watches as he walks out ahead of you, asking you to follow.

Do you?

We want power, Jesus calls us to weakness. We want glory, Jesus calls us to humility. We want fame, Jesus calls us to obscurity. We want it to be about us, Jesus knows it's about him.

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

I so often find myself struggling with these truths. To follow God into a real relationship means to lay myself aside. Everything in my earthly body cries out to be recognized, to seek power and glory for myself. Yet God calls me to a different, less travelled path.

It is not about me, it is entirely about him.

Our world tells us to collect as much as we can around us -- money, power, friends, influence, fame -- and then use it for all it is worth. It will make us happy; it will give us meaning. It does... for a time. Then the same thing that gave us meaning, ecstasy and purpose begins to rot our core, eating away at our foundations. Eventually we wake up in the same fetal position, our muscles atrophied, sapped for strength, and our souls thirsty for something deeper, something more.

Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

It makes me wonder if we haven't missed the entire point of the gospel. It has never been about us, because we find ourselves in this mess because of us. We cannot climb out of this pit, we are stuck, without hope.

It is in that place that God gives us hope. We have no where to turn, and it is there that He can truly meet us, and offer a different way forward. We are parched, our lips bleeding, our body weak -- and He offers us living water. A new hope, a new way forward.

The path isn't easy. There is no paved interstate, no safety rails. It leads through a dark forest, over a treacherous ocean-side cliff that is slick with the salt water mist. Wild animals stalk weary travellers paths, hungry for a kill. There is little shelter from the forces of nature as they test resolve. It would have been much easier to stay on the highway, with comfortable hotels and luxurious food.

That's the uncomfortable truth about the gospel. It has nothing to do with us, and it is the path less travelled. We are too weak to take it ourselves, and so we are taught about our own weakness. Instead, it has everything to do with him. The moment we start to grasp for security, power or control -- we've lost it. It's a leap into the ethereal, the unknown. A step away from our comfort and sanity and into humility and faith.

Take that leap.

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