How would you live if you knew you were going to rise?
One of our pastors posed this question in his sermon this past Palm Sunday.
Before asking, he talked about how Jesus lived his last week. Even though Jesus knew what would be happening to Him, He lived courageously, served others (even washing his disciples’ feet), and prayed for others as God’s plan was actively fulfilled.
He knew prayer was a non-negotiable; the suffering He began – and continued to endure – was ghastly.
So, that begs the question, why did he live like that – even when death was upon him?
It was because the story was not done; the story had not been left unwritten.
Though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will his offspring and prolong his days,
And the will of the Lord will prosper in His hand, After the suffering of his soul,
He will see the light of life and be satisfied;
By his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
Because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors, For he bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for his transgressors.
Isaiah 53 10-12
What if we lived out lives like this? Knowing completely, resolutely, absolutely that our lives our not our own. That we have been graciously given life; yet the brokenness we feel, live, and experience every single day is not the end.
When our pastor first asked that question, of course you think of distant images of far-off places for travel, extreme sports you might dive into, delicious food you might gourge, or that thing you have always wanted to do. I thought of those things; I decided quickly that if I had one week to live, I would eat as many burritos and enchiladas as any human ever could, jump from an airplane – just for fun, and travel as much of the world as I could in a short amount of time. Wine in Italy, mountains in New Zealand, beaches in South Africa.
But all of that aside – the question quickly becomes less rhetorical, and a lot more real. Our lives are written just as so; Jesus calls us to a community of righteousness (not self-righteousness) that allows love, mercy, and truth to overcome the evils we co-exist with.
It could change everything. Perhaps, this is a sliver of what Jesus was showing us; our short time on Earth has meaning. Even in the process of redemption, it doesn’t mean we can “cop out” and wait around for the end days to come. Let’s rise up; let’s live this life!
I want to live like that. I want to live from a place where I can say, “not me, but Him.”
He must become more, I must become less. “The Experience” is just the beginning. This life, I commit to, give it up. It’s not for me anymore.
Over 6 years ago, I participated in my first march on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. If you have ever met me, this might surprise you; one of my favorite reading topics has been the Civil Rights Movement and so it seems strange that to that point, I had never taken part in one.
Well, that year, a student at Hendrix College, a young sophomore, I decided it was time.
By myself, I met a community of people at the local library. Carrying signs, banners, and proclamations for love, we walked all over the Conway city limits, turning back to the library after an hour or two. As we descended upon the library for the final part of the march, the crowds became thick, heavy, and unrelenting. The walls of the library became full enough that not everyone could enter. People were flocking to see a local pastor preach about the kind of community that King dreamed of – the kind that was first of all inspired by God himself.
As we waited, people sang, prayed, and cheered.
It was a moment in my life where I thought to myself, “yes. This is living. This matters.” It was important to recognize that; to see that what we marched for, what we remembered – it wasn’t just a man. It was a way of life, a way to embrace faith, and it’s remarkable that despite the kind of world we live in these days, these joys and celebrations of unity are possible. His kingdom can – and will – come.