the new Easter

A few months ago, maybe longer, I heard a sermon about heaven.

It was a classic kind of sermon. “Is your name written in the lamb’s book of life? Do you know if you’re going to heaven? I know I’m going. I am assured of my final destination” etc…….

The natural question that a sermon like that leads to is what would it take for you give up your spot?

That’s where you head was going right? It’s not just me that see that as the logical question in the middle of a sermon like that? Anyone…….fine it’s probably just me.

Picture this with me.

You have arrived at the gates of heaven. Jesus comes to you and says “well done good and faithful servant” and is about to usher you in. He then stops and says “ Ummm….I don’t usually do this but your wife/husband isn’t getting in. I don’t have their name down.”

You look back, devastated and plea “there must be some mistake?! You have to help!”

“Ok.” Jesus says, but there’s a deep sadness in His eyes.

“Really!? That’s amazing! Thank you so much!”

“There’s a catch” Jesus starts “I can’t just let them in. But much like I did you can give up your spot. You can take their punishment. And let me be perfectly clear, this is not a test. This is not an opportunity for you to show you love and devotion and you both get in. If you say yes, they’re in and you’re out. Period.”

Do you do it?

I’m serious this is what goes on in my head during church and it doesn’t stop there.

I tell myself I’d do it. If it was me or Sarah I want it to be her.

But what if it wasn’t Sarah? What if it was Nolan, my son? I’d like to think I’m a father that will always put him first.

But what if it was my mom? My brother? My sister in-law? My nephew?

What about my best friend? My good friend?

What if Jesus said to me it’s you or your neighbour?

What would you say is Jesus left you the option of you or your most hated enemy?

I know what Jesus answer would be.

He’s already done it and he’s called us to follow along.

The life of compassion is not an easy one. Following in Jesus foots steps is really hard. He’s called us to daily say “I’d give it all up for my enemy”, to live our lives by putting other first. We have been called to lay down all the we are owed and the rights we have in order to place others before ourselves.

That’s why we give up our time and our money. That’s why we commit to relationship and the messiness that comes with it. We’ve been called to give up our comfort and security for our enemy. To reckless share love and grace with those who don’t deserve it.

Is that how you live? I know I often don’t.

Do I put everyone else before myself? No. Should I? Probably.

Looking forward to Easter Sunday and the sacrifice of Good Friday, are you willing to do the same? Willing to be the one who sacrifices (money, time, comfort) and is left in pain?

Are you willing to show by your life the same commitment to others Jesus has for you?

Are you willing to let others see Jesus in you?

Are you ready for your own personal Easter?

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beauty and brokenness

“But a certain sign of grace is this
From a broken earth flowers come up
Pushing through the dirt”

Wholly Yours by – The David Crowder Band

I’ve been involved in church since forever.

Not like a little involved but deeply entrenched in the church since the day I was born. My father was a fantastic minister (you’ll hear more about him in the weeks to come) in a thriving church. My mother was heavily involved as well.

My older brother was the youth pastor there for many years, with whom I volunteered for 9 years, and is now a senior pastor a thriving and growing community church.

So when I say that I’ve been involved in church, take me at my word I’ve been involved in church.

Over the years my opinions and my revelation of who God is and what He is calling us to be has changed. One of the biggest changes has been in relation to ministry. My whole life I was taught and encouraged that ministry was important and necessary for a mature Christian.

Weird twist I noticed over the years. I would talk with people about ministry, or compassion whatever word you want to use, and there was one theme that came up a lot.

To be clear it never came from my mother, father or brother but was just a part of church.

The theme was one of getting healthy before we serve. The idea that we need to get to a specific level of personal health and intimacy with God before we could really get out into the world and live the great commission.

People would say things like “I just need to get closer to God first” or “I’ve got some things God and I need to sort out before I can get into service.”

Somewhere along the way it became the norm of a large portion of Christians to think they need to whole and complete FIRST. That once they were whole and once they were really connected to God they live the compassionate life.

I think we’re really missing the point here.

I love the lyrics from the song at the start. The idea not just beauty in brokenness but beauty from brokenness. Then to take it a step further and say; beauty can come from brokenness because of grace.

That is marvellous.

That is life changing.

That is never be the same kind of revelation!

Why?

We don’t have to be whole! We don’t have to be fixed or all sorted to serve. We don’t have to be perfect or totally connected to God to start.

We can be broken and still share beauty.

I think we’re often told either directly or indirectly to get ourselves clean up and sorted, then go and serve. Once you’ve gotten good enough you can because to share love and grace and God.

I’m telling you categorically you can do it today. You can do it in brokenness. You can do it in darkness. You can do it right as you are this very moment.

And here is the best part. If you really want to be whole, if you really want to be connected to God, then love others.

Share God’s love and grace and you’ll find some of what you’re looking for.

The excuse that we’re not whole is part of what is holding us back from being whole, from being what we were made to be. To love and live in community and the share the life giving grace and experience of knowing Jesus.

When we wait to be whole we are taking away God’s chance to let Jesus burst forth from the brokenness of our lives.