Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

Freedom, Cliches, and Christ

May 28th, 2012

“Freedom isn’t free.”

The phrase has been running through my brain in these days leading up to Memorial Day.

I remember the first time someone thanked me (me!) for the sacrifices I’d made for freedom.

Me? Sacrifice for freedom?

Of course, said they. You’ve given your brothers to the cause of freedom.

Except that I haven’t really. Not much.

Both my brothers (and my sister-in-law) are proud living Marines. The price we’ve paid is small.

All three of my sibling Marines have all their body parts. The price we’ve paid is small.

Yes, their choice to volunteer in the USMC has meant that I missed my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding. It has meant that John and Kaytee will be stationed far from me. It has meant some discomfort to me. But it is a very small price.

Don’t thank me. I have hardly paid.

John, Kaytee, and Tim have paid more. They have given up a modicum of their own freedom, have submitted themselves to be at the beck and call of the USMC. They do not choose where they will go or what they will be. They do not choose how many push-ups they will do or how fast they will run. The USMC says and they must do.

Even so, their sacrifices pale in the light of many others who have gone before.

Veterans of past wars have come home scarred mentally and physically. They fought, some willingly, some unwillingly for a cause some believed in and others did not. Sometimes they won and sometimes they lost. Sometimes the world was freer for their contributions, sometimes it was not. Yet they fought, they sacrificed to obtain or maintain freedom for others.

Men and women have fought and died for freedom, leaving behind their blood, their bodies, their brave deeds. They fought for a freedom they would not enjoy-freedom to live in peace in the United States, in Europe, in the Middle East. They fought against regimes that did not topple in their lifetimes, lifetimes cut short by war. They never saw the end of the central powers, of Nazi Germany, of Soviet Communism.

They paid everything they had.

Yet even their sacrifice pales in light of a great sacrifice.

Freedom isn’t free. Jesus paid a high price for it.

A soldier subjects himself to humiliation by drill instructors, by foreign enemies, by insensitive and misunderstanding brutes at home. Christ subjected himself to humiliation by becoming a part of His creation. He subjected Himself to the humiliation of being mocked by the very ones He had given life, the ones whose life He currently sustained.

A soldier is conscripted or volunteers, knowing that death is possible. Jesus volunteered, knowing that death was inevitable, necessary.

A soldier may bear the wrath of a peeved higher officer, of an angry enemy combatant, of a rabid anti-war activist. Christ bore the wrath of His own righteous Father.

Freedom isn’t free.

Jesus paid for it. He paid a price we could never pay.

I wonder, as these thoughts run through my head, if I’m not cheapening the sacrifice of our soldiers, not reducing the impact of our fallen veterans. Am I trivializing all that Memorial Day is about? I am, after all, making light of the physical sacrifices of our soldiers by comparing them with the huge sacrifice of my Savior.

But no, I realize. If anything, I make light of Christ by comparing His sacrifice with that of a soldier.

How can I thank a veteran today? How can I remember the mere men who fought for freedom?

I can thank my veterans by telling them of the freedom that transcends politics. I can remember those who fought by glorifying the one who Won.

Because he who the Son sets free is free indeed.

May I fight, may I sacrifice, may I live and die that His Sacrifice be remembered.

Accepting the proposal

February 5th, 2010

Love Month Banner

I wrote a half-dozen “Love Month” posts before I figured out in my head how exactly I wanted to lay out this whole “Love Month” deal.

And I’m sure some of you are thinking “What the–”

It’s not the standard way to begin a discussion of love and dating and “relationships”.

But I am convinced that it’s the only way to do love, dating, and relationships right. We can’t understand love unless we know the love of God (“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” I John 3:16) We can’t find a mate without the express favor of the Lord (“He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the LORD.” Proverbs 18:22) And we certainly can’t figure out how to be married properly without knowing Christ’s love for His bride (“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…” Ephesians 5:25)

I’ve begun the discussion of relationships with a discussion of the most important love relationship in ANY person’s life, whether single, married, or (as my mom put it in a comment a few days back) “somewhere in between”. Unless we are actively participating in THAT relationship, all of our other (human) relationships are merely play-acting, like little girls dressing up in high heels and pretending to be married, haranguing their imaginary husbands on the phone.

Beginning tomorrow, we’re going to shift gears a bit–but I don’t want us to shift focus. All of what we speak about in the upcoming month–in fact, all that we speak about for the rest of our lives–should be placed into perspective by placing it into the context of Christ and His great love for us.

Because this concept–no, not a concept. Because this relationship is so vital to our understanding of the next several weeks’ discussion, I want to make sure that you have an opportunity to become a part of this relationship.

The Bible makes it plain that all of us were born into slavery to sin.

“All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;”
Isaiah 53:6

“…they are all under sin.”
Romans 3:9

As slaves to sin, we deserved only death.

“For the wages of sin is death…”
Romans 6:23

We were cut off from relationship with God.

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God.”
Isaiah 59:2

In fact, we were practicing open rebellion against God.

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.”
Romans 8:7

Yet God loved us nonetheless and pursued a love relationship with us. He pursued us even to the point of laying down His life for us, dying in our place.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8

Having taken the punishment for our sins, He now offers us freedom from bondage to sin–and an invitation into a love relationship with Him. He has done all the work, has presented His proposal. We have only to accept His gift and enter into the love relationship with Him.

Will you accept His proposal?

Maybe you’ve already believed in Jesus Christ for salvation, but that’s as far as you’ve gone. You’ve seen salvation as “fire insurance”, but haven’t truly entered into a love relationship with Christ. He still desires that relationship–He paid the price for that relationship.

Will you accept His proposal?

I urge you to spend some time with God, tell Him that you accept His proposal. Enter into that relationship.

That relationship will change your life.

It has certainly changed mine.

Beloved

February 4th, 2010

Love Month Banner

My friend (and roommate) Casandra, mentioned the Tenth Avenue North song “Beloved” in reference to my last Love Month post. I’d never heard it before, so I looked it up on YouTube–and discovered that it is indeed pretty sweet (and applicable).

The Errant Bride

February 4th, 2010

Love Month Banner

The New Testament picture of Christ’s pursuit of the church seems tame perhaps (except for the heart wrenching climax where Christ lays down His life for the bride and then rises again to betroth Himself to her–okay, so maybe it isn’t so tame after all!)

But the Old Testament gives us another example of God as husband, as lover, as pursuer–this time, of Israel, who happens to be an errant bride. While the New Testament story focuses on Christ’s courtship of the church, the Old Testament story tells us more about the bride, the bride who continually turns her back on her husband to pursue other lovers.

Let’s hear the story as told by God through Ezekiel’s mouth. Israel was an abandoned daughter, born and left to die in an open field, with the umbilical cord uncut, struggling in her blood. God took pity on the foundling daughter and spoke life into her, and cared for her through her growing up years. “When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine.” (Ezekiel 16:8) God married Israel, washed her, anointed her with oil, clothed her with the best, fed her with the best–and she became renowned as the beautiful bride of the great King.

Yet this bride let her beauty go to her head, and began to accept the advances of the men who wooed her. She slept with all and sundry, giving to her lovers the beauty and the clothing and the food that her husband had given her. She even took her children, God’s children, and sacrificed them to her lovers.

No longer satisfied with the men who came to gaze upon her, she now went out actively, pursuing new lovers. A brazen harlot already, she sunk to new depths, paying men to have sex with her.

And God was angry with a holy anger. His rage burned against His wife who had played the harlot with many men. In His anger and His jealousy, He brought judgment upon her.

But yet, even then, His love for His errant bride is unabated. He calls their marriage covenant to mind and reestablishes the covenant again. He provides atonement for her sins.

Hosea tells the same story, but with added detail. Israel, the harlot, has gone after her many lovers–and each time she strays, God pursues her to bring her back.

She claims that her lovers are the source of her food and clothing and goods–even though it is her husband, God Himself, who has provided all these things. So God strips her of them all. He takes away His provision, He frustrates her goals, He dogs her every step. And when she is at the end of herself, come to nothing because of her wickedness, then God says, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness and speak comfort to her….And it shall be, in that day…that you will call Me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer call Me ‘My Master.'” (Hosea 2:14,16)

She returns to her husband for a time–but soon she is back to turning tricks. And again her husband pursues her, tracks her down, even buying her back from the slavery she has sold herself into in her quest to satiate her lust.

Ever the errant bride, she returns again and again to her lovers–but her Husband, ever faithful, pursues her again.

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