Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Reflections

I was given an iPod last year and I try to download sermons and other podcasts to listen to. At the moment my iPod is full of all the podcasts I haven't had time to listen to yet. So I've made a bit of an effort to get through some of the build-up of sermons. Today I listened to part of a series on Titus 2:11-14.

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. Titus 2:11-14 (NLT)

Philip Jensen (the preacher I was listening to) spoke about Jesus giving his life for 2 purposes.
  1. To redeem us from lawlessness
  2. To purify us as his people, who are zealous for good works
We are saved from every kind of sin and for a purpose. To be totally committed to doing good deeds. What Paul means by good deeds is the loving, merciful, gracious, sacrificial things we do to serve others (and hence God).  In principle I like good deeds. I know what the bible says about good deeds (It's for them!). But being totally commited to them? I find that there are lots of times I'd rather just be doing what I want. Times when my commitment to good deeds falters (to say the least). Times when I think I should be 'sensible' about what I take on. Sometimes I can use sensible concerns to avoid doing what I am called to be totally committed to.

Philip talked about being zealous, being 'unbalanced' in our commitment to good deeds. I am a fan of balance, generally. Everything in moderation (?even moderation). But Paul is telling us our purpose is to be unbalanced, to be immoderate, to be zealous for doing good. It's a reminder to me that the world's wisdom about balance and moderation is not always right. This Easter I would like to think more about Jesus' total commitment to me, the extent he went to redeem and purify me. I hope I can start to live in a more 'totally commited to good deeds' way. To truly hold together total commitment to good deeds and a grace-filled existence without either being watered down.

I've also been reading this book by John Piper (gradually). I have to admit that for lots of it, I've read it to get through the book. Not that I don't believe it but it has not deeply inspired me. That was until I read #36 the other day.

Jesus came to die ... to create a band of crucified followers.

"The Calvary road is where everyone meets Jesus." Jesus died to invite us on the journey to the cross with him. In Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23 and Matthew 10:38 Jesus invites me to take up my cross and follow him. He invites you, me, and every believer to heft the burden he carries and walk in his footsteps to our death.

The paradox of this invitation is that when we follow Jesus in this journey to death, we find real life. Our lost, world-loving, me-worshipping, deluded self dies.
If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.
Matthew 10:39.
In giving up our life to follow Jesus, we find purpose (in being totally commited to good deeds), companionship (we join Jesus and the band of crucified followers), empowerment (we have God's spirit living in us) and a home (being prepared for us with our Father in heaven).

I hope Easter refreshes our joy in following Jesus as we see his love for us.

image from stock.xchng

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