Go ahead – try to hide from God
Last Sunday was the Feast of the Ascension, celebrated by many Christian faiths.
Let’s begin with a refresher of the lead-up to this pivotal moment, just in case you slept through it, or you didn’t think it applied to you.
The big question is, why did God send Jesus here?
It wasn’t to flex his muscles – although he could have. He could have taken his anger out on our sinfulness and rejection and wiped us all out. He did it before you know…No, it was to show us in the most powerful way he could how deep his love is for us, particularly those who suffer.
It wasn’t to gather groupies who would idolize him, serve him, and cater to his every whim – although that would have been easier. All he had to do was eliminate free will. But our free will to love him – or not – was too important to him even though the will of those in power nailed his Son to the cross. No, it was to model meekness, humility, and service to those most in need.
It wasn’t to puff out his chest and boast of his great might – although he had plenty to boast about. No, his extravagant love was manifested through his beloved Son, not puffed up and boastful, but rejected and slumped over on a cross.
And so, Jesus comes without any fanfare
Jesus came to earth as a human being, just like you and me (we seem to have a hard time believing that). He had a particular purpose to fulfill, just like you and me (we can’t seem to believe that either).
God wanted him to show us up close and personal how deeply and passionately we are loved, how much he longs to bless us, and how we should care for and be blessings to others (those truths also seem to have been lost to us on our often broken journey). Jesus set out to fulfill his purpose even though he knew he was making a lot of “important” people angry, so angry they would kill him. I’m pretty sure no one wants to kill us for striving to be all God created us to be (though that’s not true for many Christians even today.
Just to be sure though, we have to come up with some excuse to opt out – and we do: I’m not smart enough, I’m busy, I don’t think that applies to me. I need to straighten up my messy life and my underwear drawer first (BTW, you can quit using that one. Everyone knows your mother does that for you).
Daily, Jesus had to decide if he would keep doing what he came to do. Just before they came to take him away, scripture tells us that he was in agony, praying that God would make it disappear (Luke 22:39-46). After all, the human side of him did not want to suffer. But, in the end, he accepted whatever God’s will was.
In Holy Week – we are reminded of Jesus’ suffering, death, and glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday, which we celebrate as the church’s most powerful reminder of how much God loves us! Easter Sunday is the moment in time when the disciples came out of hiding, when their fears and doubts fell away, for a while anyway.
And now we come to the Ascension (Acts 1:5-11). This is when the disciples and Jesus get together for the last time, and they ask him if this would be his grand finale – restoring God’s kingdom. They were beside themselves with excitement and anticipation.
And his response? “Yeah, that’s not your business. That is the business of God. But, not to worry; he will fill you with the Holy Spirit to help you carry on in my name. The work you will do will be epic!”
Then, poof, he was gone. The disciples just stood there scratching their heads and staring up into the emptiness. Then, two guys in white robes showed up, “Hey, what are you doing? Why are you just standing there? It’s time to pull up your big boy pants and get going. It’s called adulating guys. Jesus worked with you for three years to bring you to this moment of becoming response-able for your part in God’s kingdom work.”
So, what now?
God tells us he made us in his image and had special plans for us before we were even born. He gave everyone gifts and talents and, at the same time, made each person unique and special. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Sure, you may doubt yourself. You may not want to risk using gifts you feel inadequate to pursue. But, if you trust that God gave you those gifts, then you must believe that he has already given you everything you need to use them for his glory. Not doing that would be sort of like gifting you with a new car and not giving you the keys.
What do you say?
If you haven’t already, there is no better time than now to reflect prayerfully on your life’s purpose. Sit quietly with God and ask him to help you consider the following:
- Do you enjoy helping others?
- Do you consider yourself a leader?
- What makes you happy – sad?
- What are you passionate about?
- Has someone else told you that you are good at something?
- Who do you admire and why? (Often, what we admire in others is what we would like to develop in ourselves).
God is waiting for each of us to come out of hiding, step out of our comfort zone, and serve this broken world.
It’s time to deeply contemplate Jesus’ life, death, resurrection – and his calling to each of us. Is this your resurrection moment? Is it time for your “yes”?
2 Corinthians 5:17 proclaims that you are a new creation in Christ each new day, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
Also, and very importantly, when considering your gifts and how you are called to use them try not to get all full of yourself in the process – okay? It would be easy to do, but, dear heart, this isn’t about you! Sorry.
Now, go on. What are you waiting for? Have no doubt that God knows you’re a hot mess – so what?