Two things have been standing out to me in the last week and they are connected.
At the beginning of the week, my friend Angela taught the students an overview of the Bible. She went from Genesis to Revelation to give them a big picture look at the whole story right before they jump into the moments and details of this epic Book with the inductive methoWhen Angela got to Jesus and how he fulfilled so many things spoken in the Old Testament, she showed a video clip of him in the garden of Gethsemane from The Passion of The Christ. What struck me as I watched the clip was how truly he struggled with doing what he knew the Father sent him to do. It wasn’t just a little hard for him to go to the cross. It made me think of Hebrews 12:3-4 which says, “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” I had not really connected those verses in Hebrews with Jesus because I had never considered Jesus’ struggle in the garden as one of temptation to sin…
When I think of it that way, it humbles me to realize how hard he struggled to lay down a right that was absolutely his- the right to live. We wouldn’t even call it sin for him to choose to not go to the cross, but he knew a deeper truth
no images were foundabout the Father’s love and what obedience truly involves. My struggle against sin is never so noble but nearly always involves laying down my right to do something I don’t really have the “right” to do. I deserve nothing as much as Jesus deserved to do what he wanted, and he actually sweated blood in his struggle against the temptation he was facing.
When I struggle with temptation, I usually cling to the verse that says we won’t be tempted beyond what we can bear… and instead of holding on for the promised way out, I atrophy my muscles of resistance, blaming God if the struggle is hard.
Then last night another piece connected itself to this lesson. During our monthly community night here at the YWAM base, a missionary who works in Central Asia shared with us about the trials he and his family have been facing.
He had us read Mark 14:3-9 which talks about a woman who poured really expensive oil over Jesus. The disciples get upset that she would “waste” something so expensive when so much good could be done had the oil been sold. Jesus, on the other hand commended the woman and rebuked their rebuke. But what he doesn’t say is the real timeless truth from this story: Jesus is totally worthy of this gesture. He’s worthy of far more than this… he’s worthy of our whole lives. He’s worthy of the pain we endure when we sacrifice and he’s worthy of any struggle it might take for me to walk in obedience to God.
When it comes to God’s love, we consider what we think that should look. He shouldn’t want us to feel pain and since he’s God, he can control our circumstances, right? So if we feel pain or if we struggle, he must not love us… or at least his love must be conditional. That’s what our culture thinks.
But what if our pain is the result of the wrong choices we all make (I’m talking collectively) and it is God who is constantly seeking to draw us out, heal us, set us on a good path… Not him smiting and punishing. Honestly, we do all of that to ourselves.
What if he doesn’t make this as easy as we want it to be because he knows that what we value, we will sacrifice for and what we sacrifice for we will value?
All the impossible work has already been done by him, and he asks for our hearts in return. He is worthy of this. He is worthy of more.
What is wonderful is that this lesson does not have guilt or condemnation attached. Years ago I would have felt that. Today, I am just overwhelmed with his grace and his love which, like a good parent, is only tough when I need it to be and, like a parent is not dependent upon my response. He just loves me.
He loves me and he is worthy of my love, small though it be.