doesn't begin with our experience...
it begins at an impossible place, the tomb."
~Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places
During the passion week (the original one) - the disciples argue amongst themselves who will be greatest. The crowds shout with joy as Jesus enters Jerusalem, because they think he's going to wipe out their Roman oppressors. Five days later - the same crowd who was excitedly proclaiming truth about Jesus (Behold the King) would now yell, "Crucify Him!"
Peter - who proclaims, "Not me - I'll go to prison and even die for you" ends up thrice denying any association with Jesus as a self-protective measure.
Judas, who disdains the waste of Mary's extravagant anointing of Jesus' feet, runs off at the first chance to cash in for an insider trade secret.
If He's not going to be a God who does what I want or makes me too uncomfortable - away with him.
And so goes the thinking of a postmodern North America! Oh we are a fickle people!
But the gospel is not centrally about us. Yes, we are the object of His deep affection - the recipient of His selfless love: "For God so loved the world that He gave..."
Peterson points out that Jesus' birth, death and resurrection are beyond us: "[It] is something we cannot do for ourselves; cannot take credit for, cannot take over and run with, cannot reproduce in any way. It is done for us. We can only hear and believe and enter this God-for-us reality that is so generously given as both the context and the content of our lives" (p. 231).
"The do-it-yourself, self-help culture of North America has so thoroughly permeated our imaginations that we don't give much sustained attention to the biggest thing of all, resurrection. And the reason we don't give much attention to it is because the resurrection is not something we can use or manipulate or control or improve on" (p. 232).
IT IS NOT ABOUT US!
So, how do we give "sustained attention to the biggest thing of all"?
I haven't finished the book to find out Peterson's prescription. But perhaps today - as I reflect on Jesus' betrayal and arrest - perhaps I can repent of any way I have tried to use, manipulate, control or improve/alter God's plan (and perhaps even my own imagination of what he can do for me and my life).
IT'S NOT ABOUT ME!
Oh resurrected Christ - in the Passion week your closest guys seemed only to be concerned with themselves. We've not evolved to be any better now. Easter services become our opportunity to showcase all we have to offer as a church - children come dressed in their new lace and ribbons - the focus so easily detoured to self and self-promotion.
Oh Risen Christ - seated at the right hand of the Father
Oh Exalted King - in whom all authority resides
Oh lamb who was slain for the sins of the world, You alone who are worthy and able...
Forgive our narcissistic culture who would have the audacity to think that we could market a "new & improved" Easter not much different than marketing a "new & improved" toilet bowl cleaner which will make your bowl sparkle and shine while eliminating stains and odors.
Woo my heart to have sustained attention on You.
"By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace was not without effect"
~Paul - 1 Corinthian 15:10
My hands are off...
give me ears to hear,
hands to receive and
courage to enter your God-for-us reality.
May your grace have it's effect in and through my life.