Hate It, Love It

I am conflicted. This is a week to hate with passion but to love with even more passion. It’s a fact of history that Jesus walked this earth and that he fulfilled the messianic prophecies laced all through the Old Testament. His life and ministry changed everything in our world. Some people recognize that reality; others don’t, at least not yet. But God is God, and his truth stands, regardless of what some may think or speculate.

At this time of year it is appropriate to pause and remember what Jesus went through on our behalf. In 2004 I went to Newnan to spend time with my Mama and celebrate her 80th birthday on March 8. The movie, Passion of the Christ, had just been released so we saw it together. Walking out of the theater, we were both just speechless. This movie clearly depicted the agony, pain, and suffering that Jesus endured. It was not just the physical pain he bore, but he took on the wrath of God against sin and that was fierce. Visualizing it was heart-wrenching but it was mostly accurate according to scripture and history. I learned that there are some things I may read but actually skim and never let the words really sink in. Passion of the Christ made Jesus’ willing sacrifice very real to me because I saw it with my eyes. I was devastated and humbled, because I knew in my heart he suffered this cruelty and death for all mankind, including me, an underserving sinner. Once again this week I am reflecting on that painful week in the life of Jesus.  I just hate it.

devastated and humbled

But the story does not end there. God raised Jesus from the dead and many people saw him after the resurrection. While it is true, many people just don’t know what to do with him. Jesus is the savior of the world. We all know deep down that sin comes naturally, though perhaps differently, in all of us. Hard as we try we cannot do enough to ever redeem ourselves from the burden of sin. But here is where God’s plan is most beautiful. His grace is overwhelming, his love is unending, his provision for us is next to unbelievable. He is God and he is reliable and faithful. His plan for us is Jesus – to accept his payment for our sin and be made whole and free. That victory over sin and death, aka salvation, is made possible by grace alone (not works) through faith alone in Christ alone. So painful for him but so easy for us. I just love it.

by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone

My heart is tender again this year during the Easter season. The bunnies are fine, the egg hunts are sweet, but the real meaning of Easter cannot be up-staged. Jesus rose from the dead; Satan is ultimately defeated, even though he still is on the prowl trying to deflect individuals from Jesus. We now have access to freedom, joy, peace and everlasting life forever in heaven. Thank God for Jesus and his indescribable gift for me … and for you. Have you read the whole story, realized its impact for you and accepted God’s grace? If not, be assured he is ready to receive you and make all things new. No sin is too great, no past is too ugly, no time is too late, no offense is an exception. God’s arm is not too short to reach us right where we are; his grace is sufficient for every predicament; Jesus’ gift of death on the cross paid the price for our sin. And God confirmed his power and the defeat of sin and death when he raised Jesus from the dead. Now will you receive this gift? The choice is yours; the ball is in your court.

God’s arm is not too short

Becoming a Christian does not make us perfect. Nor does it ensure we will be spared of the pain and cruelties of our world. But it changes everything because we have the presence of Christ living in us. He gives us strength, direction, and peace that is way beyond ourselves. Life is new when Christ is Lord.

I urge you to watch the movie Passion of the Christ this week. What have you got to lose? What have you got to gain?

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