Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Redeeming Work

(This post is going to make the most sense if you read yesterday's post. So if you haven't done that already, take a few minutes to go back. It'll be worth it.)

So Christ is doing a redeeming work by dying on the Cross (and the Cross is the redeeming work - it is the atoning sacrifice, the offering that brings man back into good standing with God) and Pilate is too busy cleaning up earthquakes to notice if the Man lives or dies. 

We're not that much different.

You see, God's redeeming work in our lives often takes the same form as it did on the Cross. No, we don't often crucify Him any more, but the truth is that God continues to create in our lives a pleasing sacrifice. His Son continues to die on behalf of us, that we may come unashamed into the presence of God. It's just that while this work is happening, it's far too easy for us to be looking at the administrative nightmare that has just befallen than to notice whether the Man lives or dies.

Darkness falls. All of a sudden, it's like someone turned the lights out. We can't see straight any more. What looked yesterday like sunshine and rainbows all of a sudden looks like thorns and underbrush. We don't know where we're going. We don't know which way to turn. Sometimes, we can't even see our hands in front of our face. Or His hands in front of our face. The moment we start to understand which way to go, there's suddenly nothing. It feels like distraction, and we start doing all we can to turn the lights back on. We start to throw ourselves into Bible and worship and church and community and service and devotion and whatever else we can think of that sounds holy that's supposed to bring us closer to God, just so we can recapture that sense of knowing what's going on. And maybe sometimes, it is distraction. But maybe sometimes, too, it is the work of redemption. Maybe we've been disoriented for a reason, that we might know that truly this is the Son of God.

The earth quakes. Suddenly, it doesn't feel like there's anywhere to put our feet down. There's nothing solid to stand on. The very things on which we have built our lives seem shaky, at best; crumbling, at worst, and we're watching our worlds, and our lives, fall to pieces around us. We're seeing the cracks starting to appear, the places of weakness that have been hiding in plain sight, manifest now only by the rattle. God is opening up our lives, cracking open our hidden places, causing our highest walls to fall. He's letting things crumble that are doing us no good. And we're rushing around looking for plaster and joint compound, doing whatever we can to patch the cracks as quickly as they come. We're sifting through the rubble trying to put our lives back together, or at the very least, to salvage whatever we can. We're busy trying to clean up the mess God is making without considering whether He lives or dies. Maybe our walls need to fall. Maybe our cracks need to show. Maybe that's how we come to know that truly this is the Son of God.

The curtain is torn, and all of a sudden, we're starting to see some of the most sacred things. We're invited into holy space. God has peeled back the covering that has kept Him somewhat removed from us. For the first time, we see and understand exactly what He's doing in our lives. It's an incredible moment - to see God's plan unfold before us. To know who we are and where we're going and what He's doing with us.'s scary. We turn our backs and start shielding ourselves from the holy place. We sense that we're not supposed to look, not supposed to know. We start to sew a new curtain, start to put up a temporary shield until we can push God back into His box. But maybe we are supposed to look, maybe we are supposed to know. Maybe that's how we discover this truly is the Son of God.

And then, most hauntingly, as God's redeeming work is becoming evident in our lives, all our skeletons start to walk out of our closets. Our pasts come back to haunt us. Things that are dead and buried, that have already begun to rot, rear their ugly heads and start terrorizing the streets. Old sins, old habits, old questions. Soldiers from battles we thought we already fought. All the things that were once a part of our story but have been buried in the graveyard of our former self awake. It's a zombie apocalypse! All of a sudden, we're left facing the same enemies we thought we already defeated. And maybe we have. But this is a reminder that God is truly God. They may be walking around, but they still smell like rotting flesh, and let's not forget it. Seeing the decay on the things of our past makes us so keenly aware that this truly is the Son of God.

When Christ died on the Cross, He was performing a redeeming work. He was reconciling man to God, making a way for a man to be holy in the presence of the Creator. In this very moment, darkness fell. The earth quaked. The curtain was torn. And the dead walked out of their graves. Seeing this, the Roman guard declared, "Truly, this is the Son of God."

Let us say no less. Christ is still doing a redeeming work in us. He's doing a redeeming work in you, and in me. And when Christ starts doing this redeeming thing in you, you have to know: darkness is gonna fall. The earth is gonna quake. The curtain is gonna tear. And the dead are going to walk out of their graves. Not so that you will question whether God is doing this good work at all, but so that you will know that He is. 

Truly, this is the Son of God.

Just hang on. It is [almost] finished. 

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