Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Gospel Doesn't Care if you Fail Today

We have developed a pretty extreme standard of evaluation for success.  Specifically, that it must happen immediately.  This is influencing nearly every aspect of our lives. 

What are some of the most popular television shows over the last few years?  Reality competition.  American Idol, the Voice, Project Runway, etc.  They all promise something very similar.  You, yes you, are a diamond in the rough.  Overnight we will discover your God given talent, launch you into the stratosphere and you can bask in the glow of your own brilliance for the decades to come. 

Perhaps you would never try out for something like this, but when we look at our culture today we see this same insipid attitude permeating every nook and crevice of societal thought and progression.  Recently I was reading about how the Millennial Generation was struggling post college.  The dream careers they had been promised were not materializing.  One particular character was profiled in a NYT's piece who was currently living in his parents basement.  Now, he had been offered a well paying job right out of college(50k+) but it wasn't REALLLLLYYY what he saw himself doing to "change the world" and "live his dreams".  So, instead of contributing to society, he was playing Xbox in his parents basement......

Do you remember layaway?  It used to be the common method of purchasing something you needed or wanted.  You made a long term disciplined commitment to putting away a set amount of money towards the eventual purchase of the item.  Today we just carry credit card debt with huge interest rates.  We want that big screen TV today, not in 12 weeks.  So what if I pay 20% more than it is really worth.  My life is poorer if I have to wait.....

It is what we desire from our politicians today.  I have a problem, however I define it, and it should be fixed.....immediately.  The long term costs of fixing the problem today do not factor into whether or not it is actually a good idea, fix it for me this very moment!  And the politician who promises the most quick fixes gets my vote......

Can you name any successful weight loss programs that advertise that if you stick to our plan for the next 2 years you will do great????  Or, are the ones that are out there promising 10 minutes of exercise 3 times a decade.......

In the Gospel of John chapter 7 Jesus has been rubbing everyone the wrong way.  He has called out their self-centered hypocritical religiosity and basically ticked off all the big wigs in Jerusalem.  No one is clamoring for more of this criticism.  They are actually plotting to try to kill him.  So, the next day, since it wasn't working out very well, JC went on vacation.....I mean....He came right back and kept at it. 

During Jesus' Earthly ministry He experienced arguably more setbacks than victories.  Not to mention an entire community would turn against Him and cheer for His execution.  You might argue that He did all of that because He knew what was going to happen in the end.  But, you and I, we clearly aren't God, we don't really know about tomorrow. 

And that, my friends, is our problem.

Could you die tonight in a freak ceiling fan accident?  Of course.  But by focusing on the limited reality of our temporal existence we accept a false premise that our lives are measured, and therefore, valued, by finite circumstances.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross instead points to the reality that every moment of our lives is a beautiful facet in the tapestry of our eternally designed purpose.

We have become prisoners to the tyranny of the moment.  The seduction of the quick fix.  The comfort of the easy solution.  What makes us feel good today becomes the highest standard of our subjective morality and evaluation of value.

The Gospel is not concerned with the immediacy of the moment, but in the reflection of an Eternal God.  Even in the suffering and the failure of a moment eternity beckons us forward.  When we make decisions from a perspective of self we make limiting choices that disconnect us from a larger picture.

When Jesus returns to Jerusalem in chapter 8 the teachers of the Law bring an adulteress to Jesus to judge.  They point out her clear sin, and, the clear punishment.  Black and white and in response to the immediate moment they demand "judgement".   The law, the tyranny of the moment, demands us to value each other's personhood by our most recent success or transgression.  The Gospel tells us that we are more than our failures.  Sin locks us into being defined by our moments.  The Gospel frees us to be shaped by Christ's love. 

Though you may die tonight, the life God has made you for, and the life you are called to, is one that sees the moments of your life as part of an ever continuing whole.  Are you looking to feel good today, or be met in love and grace forever?  There is a reason that the Gospel message is to come and die, to pick up our cross.  Living for yourself shrinks your experience and joy to a mere moment.  Living in Christ extends it to everlasting.

Even when you make a terrible mistake, you are never a mistake


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