what we miss about redepmtion

While we all know in our heads death is terrible. I struggle to think of any instance where we truly rejoice. But we approach it from a strange place in church.

It’s our vehicle the ultimate prize. It’s the goal line. We’ve run the race and are ready for our reward.

So despite its purely destructive nature, we take a strange approach to death. We see the redemption that Jesus has brought to and through death and it’s now just not so bad.

This redemptive nature of Jesus is so powerful it must be acknowledged and celebrated. It must be trumped and exclaimed for everyone to hear. It’s the power of the gospel. Jesus has come to redeem everything.

But that redemption is a process. It’s not a static action. It’s not that everything that has occurred and will occur has been redeemed. It can be, but may not be yet.

And it’s this temporal nature of redemption that I think leads to a lot of pain.

Pain when we say “don’t worry its God’s plan”

Pain when we say “God’s in control”

Pain when we see the possibility for redemption and speak as though it’s already happened.

The pain is real.

The loss is real.

The devastation is real.

When we speak as though redemption has happened we speak as though the pain, loss or devastation isn’t real. We speak as though we should no longer feel the pain, loss or devastation. We speak as though life will continue in the same way it always had.

These aren’t scars of a past memory but open wounds that need tending and caring.

I think we miss this as a church body. We miss this by a long shot.

Tending to those wounds requires proximity. We have to be in the mess with them. We have to see the damage. We can’t skip over it. We have to call it what it is and address the reality of it. We have to see the fullness of the damage to have a prayer of mending it.

We take part in the long, sometimes agonizing healing process. We are part of the search and journey of redemption, which is often only seen when we reflect back.

Even if we’re told its coming we don’t often see redemption as it’s happening. We can’t understand it until we’re in it look at back at it.

We dream and hope and desire for it.

I have experienced few things as hurtful and damaging as someone talking like my pain and struggle has already been redeemed. Few things as painful as someone taking from me the option to grieve and process. Doing everything they can to support but in reality doing everything possible to invalidate and minimize the depth and impact of the experience I was living.

And none of it was experienced as love.

a short do’s and don’t’s

With the good and bad of the internet practical what do we do?

I talked about connecting and begin authentic. Not presenting some kind of crafty self image but rather and honest reflection. What does all of that mean?

Do:

  • Share in others happiness and brokenness
  • Point people to love, grace, hope
  • Like, retweet and message people often
  • Where possible connect face to face
  • Connect with the number of people you can stay connected to in honest and real relationship
  • Be gracious and promote unity
  • Be open to others. Their beliefs, ideas, frustrations.

Don’t:

  • Be self serving
  • Make every post or comment about you
  • Grasp for attention
  • Make your rightness more important than unity, love, and grace
  • Pick fights
  • Be defensive
  • Connect when you don’t really mean it

now for a better then?

I barter with myself. Do you do this?

Talk to yourself, make little internal deals, usually never follow through. Sometimes it’s small stuff like “if you don’t eat another slice of pizza at lunch you could have a beer tonight” or “I won’t go out with the boys tonight so I can have a few more dollars and will have more money to enjoy going out next week with.”

And sometimes it’s bigger things “It’s already 9pm. If I stay later at work tonight I can be home at a good hour tomorrow and Nolan will still be up. He’s already in bed.” More time working during non-Nolan hours so that I can be home during Nolan hours the next day.

We do it all the time. We trade our present for a better future.

Have you ever considered how much you’ve traded and for what?

Like the ending to every terrible family movie where some absent family leader learns that family is the most important part.

But what about the other important parts? What about the life you were made to live and the relationships you we’re handed to hold and nurture?

I was thinking the other day about getting a part time job. Nothing much but a little extra so things wouldn’t be so tight with me and Sarah. But Nolan is only this old once. He’ll never be how he is now again. I would miss playing swords with our spoons while I try to feed him. I’d miss the look in his face when he hears a fun song on the radio. It’s now or never.

And then I thought about all the other things I’d miss. I’d miss opportunities to pour into others. I’d lose time to engage in community and relationship. I’d lose touch with people I care about.

It’s not just family that loses out when we trade the present for a better future that may never come. How many people do you know that say “once things settle down” and “once it’s all a little easier”?

It’s it ever quieter or easier?

Without the investment now there are people you will never get another shot at investing in. Without the investment in the present there may be no relationships ready for you to be life and light in.

I suppose you could start then. You could purpose yourself to meet people and be broken and messy together in a few days, months, years, etc.

Honestly, why will it happen then? And are the people you will meet in the future really that much more important than the people you could know now?

Is your work/hobbies/sleep/etc. honestly more important than the relationships you’re forfeiting now? More important than the love and grace you were made to share? More important than sharing light in darkness and letting people see heaven for the very first time?

Really?

And why will it be so easy in the future? Why will you then be able to make the change to be other-centred?

Life is all about priorities. We’ve talked about it before. I hope your living your life with the priorities you think you are because the life we’re talking about leading, the life of compassion, won’t just happen.

It’s a choice, a dedication, a sacrifice you’re being called to make daily.

Maybe today is the day you go and try one of these or at least be honest with yourself about your actually doing or not doing.