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Sunday, February 23, 2014

There Will Be Crosses

 "Real men don't cry" is a lie the devil made up. One of his better ones, actually. I saw a real man crying today and he's a man's man and a rock in my book.  It broke my heart to see him that way.  It made me think about how being a follower of Christ is an invitation to war with Satan. Though there's a place for positive attitudes, the idea that life will somehow be a positive cloud nine, mountain top experience for Christians is as fictious as Star Trek. "Give your heart to Christ and live long and prosper."  Those words serve a fantasy much better than the reality. And the reality is we need a "real" god.
Two words blow what I refer to as the "Gospel According to Spock" ( the prosperity gospel) out of the water and prove real men do cry. "Jesus wept". (Read John chapter 11 pay close attention to verse 16.)Those two words say so much about not only life, but also the giver of life. A life that isn't always a void of heartache . I'll be the first to admit, there's comfort in knowing the creator God is just and all powerful.  But before we all break out into the chorus of "He's Got The Whole World in His Hands,"let's be honest.  As in awe as we may be of His majesty and power, it is hard to find a friend in that. But a god that lets us see Him cry, we can be friends with that God. 
It's not just the fact Jesus cries but what he cries over that gets me. The suffering of a friend and the anger and frustration in the attitudes surrounding him from his friends to his enemies. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Even in perfection, his life was real and positively human. Before the betrayal of Judas, he had felt the frustration of relationships. Before his pain in death, he felt the pain of life. Those closest him, then as now, suffer . But it these words, that hold those who would preach the prosperity gospel in contempt . "And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:38 NET)".  I can almost see Jesus writing those words in red in the margin of a copy of  " Your Best Life Now ".
 Following Jesus is sometimes painfully disappointing and hard work. It isn't easy to forgive. Forgiveness, not prosperity, is the heart of the gospel message.   It's only through the work on the cross the work the work of the gospel gets done. It's there we can find forgiveness for ourselves and others. We certainly won't carry a cross unless we embrace the one Christ carried for us. The one we we built for Him and effectively and personally nailed Him to. Crosses not meant to adorn the necks, but instead, to scar the backs of those who do the work of real gospel. Real people, in the real world, with real problems, needing real forgiveness, serving a real God. If there is forgiveness, there will be crosses.

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