Loving people with the heart of Christ in the heart of Wabash.

Philippians 2:3-5

Living Jesus’ Story

How is this year starting for you? If I were to poll the congregation, or better yet, the community, I bet we would get as many different answers as there are people. I don’t have to describe the environment in which we live… you know it.

For some, the news comes as a relief, and for others, it weighs heavily on their hearts. But we all see the tension, the human emotion, the struggle for hope.

I wonder… how is Jesus inviting us to approach these new days in which we live?

I was reading something recently that struck a chord. Throughout the Scriptures, there are innumerable verses of encouragement: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 5); “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not be in want” (Psalm 23); “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3); and the list goes on.

And yet when it came to the Gospel accounts of Jesus, there were surprisingly few. It is eye-opening how much of the Gospels are devoted to the final week of Jesus’ life—preparations for the cross.

When we look at the Bible as a whole through the lens of positive thinking, less than a dozen verses arise from the Passion story. Yet, we say this is the very best thing God has done in and for the world—Jesus’ cross is our salvation.

Do you sense this tension? Do you feel the urge to celebrate restrained by the reality of what it cost?

The sobering reality is that Jesus asks us to experience that story with him.

“Follow me” means that we will get to share his resurrection. But we cannot do a spiritual “hyper-jump” to the joy of Easter Sunday by somehow detouring around the messiness of Good Friday. “Unless you take up your cross every day,” Jesus said, “you cannot be my disciple” (Luke 9:23).

Deciding to follow Jesus means deciding give up life on our terms and die to ourselves. And yet Jesus promises that it is in giving up our lives that we gain them.

The way to fulfilled life according to Jesus is not championing social causes for him. The way to redemption is not by getting those around you to act and believe the way you do.

The way of salvation is allowing the life of Christ to live in and through you: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is the light that emanates from these earthen vessels. It’s not a manifesto, it’s not legislation, it’s much higher and nobler than that. Kindness is counter-cultural; gentleness and forbearance is revolutionary; protecting the lives of the vulnerable and overlooked is a cause worth defending; living in humility and submission to others is mystifyingly beautiful.

But we must always remember that the first step is in picking up our crosses and bearing them all the way to Calvary.

In a moment in time when the polarizing pull of politics has never been more apparent, is the Gospel a cause worth giving your life for? Because following Jesus even into your own dying and burial with him is the very best way to live.

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