Sunday, March 31, 2013

Love, Trust, Obedience

Easter is a glorious day, a wonderful day, the Resurrection Day. Because of the events of this day everything changed for all of time and beyond. With the cross we have salvation. Our sins were paid for and forgiveness is available for anyone who seeks it. But the cross is the stepping stone to something unbelievably fantastic. On this day death was beaten. On this day a new creation was revealed. This is the day of a new beginning and it started when the Father brought his son from the dead. He is Risen!

The thing that has really fascinated me this year, as I have reflected on the events of the cross and the empty grave, is the Father's will. Jesus told us all the way along that he did not come in his own authority but the Father's and he demonstrated this relationship of love in word and deed:

I tell you for certain that the Son cannot do anything on his own. He can do only what he sees the Father doing, and he does exactly what he sees the Father do. (John 5:19, CEV)

It astonishes me that despite what Jesus declared about his death, some still believe that he died at the hands of the Jews. It was his Father's will that he die in our place:

The Father loves me, because I give up my life, so that I may receive it back again. No one takes my life from me. I give it up willingly! I have the power to give it up and the power to receive it back again, just as my Father commanded me to do. (John 10:17-18, CEV)

You see, the cross was more than just Jesus loving us and dying for us. It goes deeper than that and speaks of the relationship we are suppose to have with God. Jesus went to the cross because he loved his Father and would never do anything in rebellion against his him. His love meant that he trusted, even through the torture and death of the cross. Each step he took was taken in obedience and was an act of love.

Easter should be a lesson to us of love, trust and obedience for we are born of rebellion. There isn't a parent reading this who does not understand about love, trust and obedience. When our children are young they have nothing but love and adoration for us. Obedience is not always easy to children because of their rebellious nature but love is a great restraint. Although never perfect, our children loved to do what we said. If we asked them to get our slippers they would. If we asked them to help us with the dishes they would, eagerly. But as children get older, things change.

Children become more self-absorbed. The world starts revolving around them. They want to be their own bosses. They choose to no longer recognize the authority of their parents. Love has diminished so trust of the rules and their parents' wisdom also diminishes. Parents' hearts are crushed and there is natural consequences to rebellious acts. Sound familiar? It should. It is what happened in the garden.

Before the cross and the resurrection  rebellion is all we knew, all that we could do. We could not obey God no matter how noble our intention. Look to David as an example. A man who loved God and who God loved. But that love could not save David from rebellion because only Jesus can save. Jesus' resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit ushered in a new era, the era of the new creation. The authority of the old nature was cut and we were given the freedom to choose.

Obedience is a choice; a daily choice; a moment by moment choice. But we have problems with choices because we are also an undisciplined people. We know what is good for us. We know that smoking kills but we choose to smoke. We know we need fruit and vegetables for our bodies to function properly but we choose pop and chips. We know that we need proper exercise to feel great and have plenty of energy, but we love our television and video games. We are bad at making good choices.

Jesus has done everything that needs to be done for us. He has opened the doors wide and said walk through. He became the first born of a new creation so that we may have all that has been promised. He did not stay so he could send to us the Holy Spirit. We are equipped to be obedient. But obedience is only possible when love is the motivation:

If anyone loves me, they will obey me. Then my Father will love them, and we will come to them and live in them. But anyone who doesn’t love me, won’t obey me. What they have heard me say doesn’t really come from me, but from the Father who sent me. (John 14:23-24, CEV)

In death and in life Jesus has set for us the example of love. He loved the Father, represented the Father, taught what he was told to teach, did what he was told to do. He faced the cruelty of the cross, the ugliness of the grave and in obedience, rose from the dead to take his place at the right hand of the Father.

Easter is about victory won through love, trust and obedience. Our life should be about the same. Yes, let's celebrate the victory won on this day but let us also ask the question, "Do I love Jesus? Do I trust him? Do I walk in obedience to him?"

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