Have you ever found yourself struggling to stay focused on the real reason for Easter? It’s so easy to get caught up in the commercialism and the “fun” stuff like candy, egg hunts, and new clothes. But even beyond those things, I think it’s easy for us to (unintentionally) lose sight of the deep meaning behind Holy Week, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday.
We recognize that Jesus died, of course. And we know that because Jesus died, we are able to live. But I think we tend to miss the "how" and "why" that connect those two things.
We talk about death being defeated. We talk about Jesus being the true King. We talk about his blood making us clean. But do we really remember why his blood made us clean?
It's not just about Jesus dying. At least, not in the way that we tend to think.
Yes, Jesus died. We just forget why.
Yes, we know it was for us. But why was it for us?
It’s easy to see heroes of the faith in Scripture. People such as Abraham, David, Peter, and Paul. We also are pretty familiar with the “B-list” characters – like Ruth, Jonathan, and Stephen. And of course, we know the “villains” well.
But there are a lot of other people in Scripture that are easy to overlook – they’re not villains, but they’re not stars, either. People like Andrew – the one who brought Peter to meet Jesus. Or those four unnamed friends who pushed through crowds and finally cut through a roof to bring their broken friend to the One who could heal him. Or Barnabas, who quietly supported and encouraged those weak in the faith, building them up, and making peace a priority in the church.
These are the unsung heroes. They don’t seek attention for themselves. They stay in the background- support characters. They’re not the ones at the front lines – but they’re the ones that keep the front lines strong.
Until my own recent struggle, I don’t think I realized just how far-reaching fear can become, not only personally, but how my internal fears can begin to affect my relationships in significant ways. I think we’re all guilty of acting in fear in our relationships – I just think we don’t generally notice until it becomes out of control and is seen more in the results of deep depression, desperate behavior, and a pattern of broken relationships.
It’s often not too difficult to look back and see where we did things the wrong way, acted in fear, and where things got off track. Unfortunately, it’s much harder to fix the problems when we’ve reached that point. It is not, however, impossible. It simply requires much humility and a determination to let God become our focus rather than people, and let love control our actions, not fear.
I am so thankful that God uses people
We need encouragement. We need help. We need hope.
When we’re overwhelmed, frustrated, tired, and broken, we are tempted to isolate. But it’s in those broken moments that we most need each other. We benefit the most from our relationships when it’s the hardest – when we’re most tempted to give up, close up, or shut down. When we’re vulnerable. When we’re scared. When we’re desperate.
The pattern in scripture is that when people (or even the nation of Israel) were desperate, they cried out to God. And God sent a man. God sent a woman. God sent a person. And He used that person to help, encourage, and bring about deliverance, both personally and corporately.
When Adam was alone and needed a helper,
Bethany is patient.
Bethany is kind.
Bethany does not envy.
Bethany does not boast.
Bethany is not proud.
Bethany does not dishonor others.
Bethany is not self-seeking.
Bethany is not easily angered.
Bethany keeps no record of wrongs.
Bethany does not delight in evil.
Bethany rejoices with the truth.
Bethany always protects.
Bethany always trusts.
Bethany always hopes.
Bethany always perseveres.
When I personalize scripture, it makes it much more real, direct, and applicable to my life.
It’s one thing to read about what agape (sacrificial) love looks like; it’s another thing to hold yourself to the standard. As I read through the passage inserting my name, it’s easy to see where I fail and where I need to make adjustments in the way I love the people God has
placed in my life.
they all ran.
All for the same reason.
They ran from the consequences of their sin.
They ran into the arms of sin.
And they left a trail of destruction behind them.
One of the biggest struggles everyone faces is
the challenge to believe God’s love for us. People who are living in rebellion and sin seem to accept easily – why? And then those of who are trying
so hard to live right, honor God, and deepen our relationships with Him — well, it’s the hardest thing ever.
We struggle to believe that…
- God loves me now.
“Even with all the mess I’m going through? Look at me! God can’t love me like this…”
- God loves me after.
“But you don’t know what I’ve done. No one could love me after that.”
- God loves me personally.
“Yes, I know, God loves everyone. He has to. And I believe He does.
But it’s not really about me.”
- God likes me.
“Okay, so God loves me, but that doesn’t mean He likes me. That’s crazy. I know how
it works. Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you like them. I can just see Him cringing as soon as I start to pray.”
“To love at all is to be vulnerable.”
A call to full-time ministry is really a call to full-time love.
Sometimes that love is easy to give; sometimes not so much.
Sometimes that love looks like a hug, a smile, and an encouraging comment.
Other times it means saying hard things, and drawing a line in the sand.
But it’s always all about love.
It’s about showing God’s love.
We know the word agape and we know it means sacrificial, but we don’t really connect
the dots beyond that. Sure, it costs. But I think I tend to assume that when it’s agape,
I’ll win in the end. And by win, I mean be loved in return.
I’m discovering that’s not true.
At least, not in the way I tend to want.
In a word: passionate.
About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even
iced skinny soy mochas.