A Word to be Heard

God speaks to our weariness through Jesus.  We are caught up in a system of acquisition and achievement, and everybody’s rated and graded and stratified and we’re giving out medals…you’re on the top or bottom, you’re upper, you’re middle, you’re lower, all based on acquisition and achievement.    We find ourselves as the human race in a race, except it’s not human.  We all know this, but we get caught up in this madness that says what we have to do is acquire, we’ve got to achieve status, we’ve got to satisfy our ego.  We’ve got to be important among other people, but we know in our hearts  what’s wrong with it, that’s why we call it a rat race.  The truth can change a man in the wisdom of his days, it whispers soft but constantly, you can not live this way.  You can not live this way, you can not live this way.  And Jesus says  “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  Come and learn from me, I’ll be your rabbi, your mentor, your professor, I’ll be your teacher, I will teach you a different way to live and you’ll find out that my disciplined way of living, it’s an easy yoke, it’s a light burden, and it won’t crush you and kill you or give you high blood pressure and cause you to die at 50…

God speaks to our bondage through Jesus.  God speaks to our pain through Jesus.  Jesus is the one who absorbs our pain.  You may have heard that hurt people hurt people.  If you hurt me, and I’m not living the Jesus way, then I’ll hurt you or I’ll hurt somebody else.  I’ll take it out on somebody, I’ll recycle it and reuse it to hurt others.  Pain is inflicted, and pain is paid forward, pain is paid backwards, pain is paid back, and we all know that paybacks are hell.  The world becomes a painful place.  But Jesus is the one who takes pain into Himself.  Our pain is driven into the the flesh of Jesus with nails, with thorns, and with a spear, and he doesn’t recycle into revenge and inflicting pain on others.  He absorbs it, so that by his wounds, we are healed.  God speaks to our pain through Jesus.

God speaks to our sorrow through Jesus.  Jesus was the man of sorrows acquainted with grief.  Jesus wept, but that’s not the end of the story.  Remember what Isaiah the prophet said, he will give you beauty for ashes.  In ancient Semitic cultures, sometimes even to this day, if you had gone through a terrible loss, and your soul was suffering sorrow and you were stricken with grief, you would go to your hearth, your fireplace, and you would take the ashes on your head.  This would be a sign that I’m broken hearted, I’m grieving.   But the prophet says that God, when He sets the world right, when He acts within history, when the Messiah comes, He’s going to give us beauty for ashes.  “To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair…”. Isaiah‬ ‭61:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬.  This translation is interesting, because the word used here for beauty can be translated as either “crown” or “beauty”, because it’s basically the same word.  Here, it is translated as a crown of beauty, and I suppose that’s as good as any.   So, when you have crowned yourself with sorrow (ashes), the prophet says that’s not the end.  God’s going to act in history and he’s going to come and put a crown of beauty in place of your ashes.  He’s going to come and wipe those ashes off of you and put a beautiful crown.  He’s going to transform your sorrow into something that makes you beautiful.  God speaks to our sorrow through Jesus.

God speaks to our politics through Jesus.  He says my kingdom is not from this world.  It may be for this world, but it is not from this world.  It does not come in the way that all the politics of this world come.  One of the things that might help you is if you will in your mind translate Kingdom of God into politics of God.  This is completely legitimate, it’s what it means.  Kingdom is archaic, politics is contemporary.  Thy politics come, thy will be done…What does Jesus say to Nicodemus?  “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬. What we’ve done with this scripture is we’ve reduced it, we’ve shrunk it to mean unless you pray the sinners prayer you can’t go to heaven when you die.  This explains much of our problem, when Jesus is actually saying something much more like this – Hey Nicodemus, unless you are willing to rethink EVERYTHING in light of me, you will never even see the politics of God.  But because we are wedded to our systems, whether right or left, we don’t want to rethink everything and what we do is take our Jesus and plot him on our grid.  So if you’re a Democrat, you put Jesus to the left, if you’re a Republican, you put Jesus over to the right, but Jesus says NO!!  I don’t belong to any of that!  My politics is NOT FROM THIS.  You need to wipe that out, go back to the beginning, be willing to rethink EVERYTHING,  because unless you are BORN AGAIN, take it from the top, rethink everything in the light of MY revelation, you will never even begin to perceive the politics of God, even though it is breaking into the world through what I am doing right now!

God speaks to our hope through Jesus.  What we hope for the most, in the grandest, most magnanimous way, is a world of peace and justice.  That’s what God speaks into existence through the word that is His Son, made flesh among us, whom we call Jesus the Christ.  So that the church is the world as believing in Christ, so that as we actually follow and are transformed by the Jesus Way, as we follow the same journey that transforms a Son of Rage into an Apostle of Love, as we stick with Jesus on that journey we become this part of the world believing in Jesus and  we become the prophetic hope of what this world is to become in Christ.  

The idea is not God is going to select a few and kick the rest and say the whole thing is done with.  Rather, God is intervening, calling all to follow him, and He is coming!  The blessed hope is not we are going but He is coming!!  He’s coming to restore, and we are to be the prophetic anticipation of that.  We are from the future.  The world should be able to look at the church and say that’s where this thing is headed!  But if we don’t believe that, what we do is follow the world and try to pull Jesus on our side.  It’s like when the angel of the lord appeared to Joshua.  “…And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped…” ‭‭Joshua‬ ‭5:13-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  OH!!   We want to know, whose side is Jesus on??   What do you mean, whose side am I on??  I AM LORD!!  I plot you on my grid, you don’t plot me on yours!!   The question is not whether Jesus is left or right.  The question is, Are you a sheep or a goat?   That’s the question.   Jesus is the standard.  God speaks to our hope through Jesus, and our greatest hope of all is a world of peace and justice.  That is what God speaks into existence through Jesus Christ, and he calls us to believe in Him and be part of that body of Messiah that embodies that hope in the world presently.  

We are mostly deaf and half blind, but God tries to break through our blindness and deafness through His eternal abiding word that is Jesus the Christ.  Even through our fear, anxiety, hurt, though we are bound, troubled, angry, hating, Jesus speaks to us, communicating faith, hope, love, peace, joy, restoration, repentance, new beginning, transformation, if we would only listen…He speaks to each one the word they need to hear.

John Lewis

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