Archive for February, 2008
Alfred had dedicated himself to the science of war. A talented scientist and creative inventor, he studied ways to create new and better weapons. Specializing in explosives, he created dynamite. While you may think that he was a man who enjoyed war, quite the opposite was true. He felt that if he could perfect the instruments of war, it would be impossible for man to wage war. He once said, “My dynamite will sooner lead to peace than a thousand world conventions. As soon as men will find that in one instant whole armies can be utterly destroyed, they surely will abide by golden peace.”
That dream of peace through improved weapons was shattered by World War I. Alfred’s dynamite and other inventions were used to kill more and to kill faster. Yet he continued on his quest for peace.
One morning, Alfred picked up the paper and was shocked to read his own obituary. Through an error, a French paper had printed Alfred’s obituary instead of his brother’s. It was a terrible shock to this peace-loving man to see himself labeled as “the Merchant of Death,” portrayed as the man responsible for thousands of deaths. This was not how Alfred wanted to be remembered. So in his remaining years, he worked with lawyers to set up a foundation that would give yearly prizes for chemistry, physics, medicine and literature. Today if you ask someone about Alfred Nobel, few will call him “the Merchant of Death” nor connect his name with dynamite. We remember, instead, the Nobel peace prize.
We may not be able to change our legacy that dramatically, but we can do something even better. We can take our past mistakes, our old lives, the guilt and regrets that we’ve built up through the years, and have them erased forever. God has promised to separate us from them “[i]as far as the east is from the west[/i]” (Psalm 103:12) … and that’s pretty far! God will look on us as though we’d never done anything wrong. “[i]Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come![/i]” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Wouldn’t you like to wake up tomorrow and know that you can be proud of every aspect of your life? Jesus can make it possible. A new start, a clean slate. It’s there for the taking.
Grace and peace,
When the doctor asked if I had noticed whether the spot on my chest had changed in the last few months, I hadn’t even realized there was a spot. So she took a sample for tests. Then she called back with good news and bad news. The bad news: it was melanoma. The good news: it was confined to the surface. So I asked what we do about it. The answer was quick and aggressive. Act quickly, cut it out and excise the area around it so it completely removed, and check back every few months to be sure no more occur.
Then it dawned on me that this was a blueprint for how to handle sin in my life. When you find something in your life that should not be there, get aggressive in treatment. Act quickly. Sin will only wrap you deeper and deeper. It does not go away on its own. Cut it out. Do not fool around with sin. Remove it. Be radical. Cut off inappropriate relationships completely. Take any steps necessary to rid yourself of sin. Be preventative. Form an accountability group. Be on guard for situations that may lend themselves to temptation. Know your weakness.
For some of you, this may sound harsh, but I am talking to those who are ready to live radical lives for Jesus. Christianity is not a hobby, or a habit, or one of the important things to do. It is life. Real Christianity is sold out to Jesus.
This approach works. So far I am cancer free. And this approach works spiritually. I know because I have been there. I have done radical surgery on my life to battle the cancer of sin. I have people who help me guard against its recurrence. Even more than my physical health, my spiritual health is real life. Now and forever.
I know this may not be the view of Christianity that some of you may have seen, but it is the call of Jesus: to die with him…and then live in him forever.
So what do you think about radical Christianity, about attacking sin aggressively, or about making this real in your life?
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
If you think about it, this invitation by Jesus isn’t for everyone. I’m not saying that He wouldn’t receive all who wanted to come nor am I saying that His sacrifice was in any way limited. What I’m saying is Jesus is calling those who are tired. Those who feel weighed down. Those who are dissatisfied. Those who don’t like the way things are.
If you’ve never gone through a hard time, if you haven’t known disappointment, if you haven’t experienced loss, Jesus’ invitation won’t be very attractive. If you enjoy war and suffering and hunger and illness and all the things that surround us in this world, you’re probably not interested in the rest that Jesus offers. If you haven’t felt the burden of guilt, the soul-wrenching weight of remorse, then a light yoke probably doesn’t sound very good. You may find it hard to appreciate what Jesus has to offer.
But the vast majority of us know what it is to be weary. Tired to the bone. We know what it feels like to be burdened, be it the burden of worry, the burden of sin, the burden of illness. What we long for is rest. Rest for our souls. Even though it is a yoke that Jesus offers, it is a light one. And we’re ready. We’re willing. Show us where to sign.
To us, Jesus says simply: Come. He’ll lay His yoke on us, He’ll teach us, and He’ll do it in a gentle, humble way. Come, He says. Lay your burdens down. Come. Find rest and peace. Find forgiveness and grace. Learn what it is to serve a gentle Master, one whose goal is to ease our burdens and rest our souls.
No, the invitation isn’t for everyone. But I know it’s for me. And it just might be for you.
Grace and peace,