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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heaven here and now

Monday wasn’t super practical.

It’s a cool idea with some really important implications but what does it look like when we share heaven with people? What is life like if we are choosing the relentless pursuit of heaven in every moment? What are the actions of one with that as their goal?

Tough question, but I hope some of my idea here will resonate with you. There are few elements that need to be present for this to really work. You need relationship. You need grace. You need love.

I think back to the time I back into a friend’s car. My insides were wrenching as I go back inside to tell them. They had all the right in the world to be mad. But it was grace they choose instead and without thought, “No worries bud, it’s an old car. Have good night.”

It’s the time I was pulled over for a rolling stop and the officer said “just stop next time” and then let me go.

It’s the time I left our back door open at home for an entire weekend we were away and Sarah simply asked that I check the house for animals. No anger, just grace.

It’s in those moment people created heaven for me when all I deserved was hell. That’s what it looks like when someone chooses heaven. When someone chooses grace in a relationship not entitlement and rights.

It’s the time I sat in the hospital waiting for my dad to die and a friend stopped by with a bag of energy drinks.

It’s the time when Sarah and I were first married and I got home sick. I’d never lived away from home and I was struggling to adjust. She went out and bought me pizza and rented a TV series I loved because we didn’t have cable and she wanted to make our new home feel a little like home my old home.

It’s the time after my dad died that a good friend printed a ridiculous fake news story from the internet about fantasy baseball (one of my favourite pass times) and wrote “Saw this and thought of you. I’m praying for you.”

It’s in the moments when hell is closing in around you and someone steps in with love. That’s what it looks like when someone chooses heaven. When they come and as opposed to telling you it’s all ok, sit and enter into the moment with you. It’s love in action, not looking to get anything back.

Heaven in the here and now.

imagine there is no heaven

I was thinking about what to write about this week leading up to Easter. Pondering how Easter and compassion connect. What does Jesus’ death have to do with compassion?

To me the two have  to be linked. There must be really important connections.

Imagine there is no heaven

Easter is coming up this weekend and it got me thinking about heaven, salvation and what that all means to us right now.

So often our Christian walk is about the end. Getting to heaven and maybe even more than that, avoiding hell.

But what if it all wasn’t there.

Imagine there is no heaven, at least not like we’ve been taught.

Imagine there were no pearly gates and no streets of gold. Heaven is not a place we can go.

Imagine the only heave we can ever see is right here on earth.

It’s in the lives we live right now.

Would that change the way you live? Would that affect every aspect of your life?

Would you strive after it the way you long and desire for the eternal heaven? What would you do if the only way you could ever experience heave was to do so on earth?

If the only way was for you bring heaven into your life right now by sharing God’s love and grace. Would you not make that a focus?

We so often look to the end and wait for heaven to come. We almost consider this life a trial we have to pass to get to God and in doing so we miss so much of why Jesus came and what His life and His call on us is about.

For me, I think that a life of compassion is the relentless pursuit of heaven in every moment of our lives. It’s not the pursuit of some end goal but the attempt to see heave in everything we do. It’s the attempt to share as much love and grace with the people we come in contact with so that when we’re with them they get to see and experience who God is and what heaven will be like.

This is the life God made us for. This is life to the fullest. This is about dragging heaven into the present and sharing the redemption of Easter with every moment.

The redemption that allows for faults and brokenness. The redemption that uses our darkness to share light. The redemption that says you are loved and wonderful as you are right now.

Do we live compassionate lives for us to avoid hell or because we’ve learned that this is what we were made to do and are so driven to share our revelation of love with others?

Honestly, why do you do it?

Or maybe better put why don’t you? Is it because heaven is out there and all you need to do is wait for this mess to end?

Heaven is here to be shared today, in every moment. It’s there for us to see and be a part of sharing with every relationship we have.

Isn’t that the Easter story? Redemption came to us and is here today, heaven is here today.

You make a choice every day in every relationship. Do you want to bring heaven or do you choose to bring hell?