The freeing contradiction of the Good News proclaimed by Jesus through both His works and words. We DIE so we can LIVE. We DIE to our right to be the center of our little kingdom called “ME” (the world with me at the center). We come fully ALIVE in the ever expanding Kingdom called “HE” (God’s kingdom with Jesus at the center). We DIE to an existence where we never have enough, and are always promised that next time will be the charm. We come fully alive to a reality where we have more than enough and our “future” significance is right now.
I heard a funny story yesterday from a friend of mine. Stories become increasingly funny when you know the characters in the story. Maybe you won’t think this is funny.
My friend and his to-be-wife were attending a “revival meeting” with his mom. Kids do things for their moms they would never do otherwise. They were not following Jesus at the time even though I’m sure my friend had attended his fair share of “revival meetings.”
For those unfamiliar with the term “revival meeting,” these were the times during the year when a church schedules a series of meetings, usually a week or longer in duration for the purpose of getting those who were not following Jesus, to follow Jesus. You would bring your friends and family to these meetings hoping they would hear the “good news” and get saved. Or at least get the hell scared out of them.
Anyway my friend and his wife-to-be were sitting in one of these “revival meetings.” At the end of the meeting, the preacher asked the question, “How many of you, if you died tonight, are sure you would go to heaven?” My friend had heard the question a million times. It went in one ear and out the other. It was just something preachers asked. His wife-to-be however had not heard the question before. In her mind it was a good question and any normal and thinking person would have to agree that there was no way to be sure you were going to heaven when you die. No one has ever empirically proven that heaven exists, that Jesus is a alive and well and sitting at God’s right hand, etc. So she raised her hand.
What she didn’t know was that admitting you weren’t sure about your eternal destination was the same as saying you wanted to follow Jesus. This was not the case for her. And no matter what the preacher did or said after she raised her hand got her to the altar where salvation happens.
This morning I am reading John 3 where a Pharisee named Nicodemus comes to Jesus under the cover of darkness and begins with the words, “We all know you are here to teach us. Your miraculous signs are proof of that.” This wasn’t exactly true. Many who had seen the miracles did not consider them to be proof.
To which Jesus says, “If you want to see the kingdom of God you need to be born again. Your dead spirit needs to be resurrected… re-born.”
Nicodemus responds, “This seems impossible…”
And then Jesus says the following, “We (the Father and I) are talking to you about earthly things and you don’t understand. How will you understand when we talk about heavenly things? NO ONE HAS EVER GONE TO HEAVEN BUT I HAVE COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN AND HERE I AM!!! Look at Me and believe that I exist and that I am who I say that I am. I’m not here to judge the world but to SAVE IT!!!! Believe in me! Follow Me! Step out of your secrets and shadows into the light that I bring. With me there is no judgement. Without Me there is NOTHING BUT JUDGEMENT. Everyone stands judged until the moment they believe Me! then its gone!”
You can read the third chapter of the gospel of John yourself if you like. Jesus says some pretty amazing things.
Here’s what excites me. JESUS CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN so that I no longer have to go there! What if the question, “Are you sure you would go to heaven If you died tonight?” Has nothing to do with why Jesus came in the first place? What if Jesus has far more interest in getting heaven to earth than in getting us to heaven?
What if heaven has already come down and we no longer have to try and figure out how to get there. What if the offer is not “going to heaven when we die?” What if the offer is to simply live forever? What if this world as it now exists is not our home? What if the promise is to live out our days here on this earth without fear and without regret because we already have what everyone is looking for. No more dying. No more trying. No ore lying.
What if those who died believing that Jesus was who He said He was are not really dead but waiting for the final act of the play… the final chapter of the first book?
I wonder what might have happened years ago in that revival meeting if my friends now wife had been told that heaven had invaded earth in the form of a person…JESUS. And that she no longer had to worry about getting there. I wonder what might have happened if she simply had been introduced to Jesus and invited to believe Him, believe in Him and receive LIFE.
Following Jesus is not about “proof.” It is about trust. Those who follow Jesus are as prone to as much doubt as those who don’t. The only difference between the two is that those who follow Jesus trust that what He has promised He will do. They trust that when He says they have been given eternal life that He’s not lying. That no matter what their experiences are here on earth, death doesn’t have the last word. It is simply a word…a temporary word…a powerless word…a word used to describe what we pass through on our way to resurrection.
This trust is not, however blind. Jesus actually was a man in history who experienced birth like we do, life like we do, temptation like we do, being murdered like we hopefully never will, and in the end resurrection. It actually takes a good bit of faith to not believe these things.
As for me,, I’m all in with Jesus. I’m trusting Him with everything I have and in everything I experience…at least until I find a good reason not to. So far I haven’t!!
Over and out.