28 July 2009

Be like Jesus

Dudes, I had an epiphany on the way north from my in-law's Monday morning. It happened when I heard Todd Agnew on K-LOVE, singing a new version of his song "My Jesus" from his Reflection of Something CD.

"Which Jesus do you follow?
Which Jesus do you serve?
If Ephesians says to imitate Christ
Then why do you look so much like the world?
Cause my Jesus bled and died...
But the Word says He was battered and scarred

I thought about the adjectives at the end there: bled, died, battered, scarred. What is the command? "imitate Christ." I think of the"lament"quote that I love so much, that really helped me find my focus for this blog. (It's actually also at the very end of the screen, if you were to scroll a-all the way to the bottom, it's there.)

It's so hard to actually admit that we are flawed. What if someone knew that we live imperfect lives, that crummy things happen to us? If we were unable to keep these things hidden, then we'd have to admit that we weren't doing a great job of things on our own.

OKAY! So where's the problem? For those who follow Christ, who strive to be like him, there should be

at any opportunity to crush our pride,

at the chance to raise up the name of Christ as the way to survive our crummy situations,

and joy at a chance to tell about the holy Spirit as the means for our survival!

So I was thinking- if to imitate Christ is our assignment, and if he was "battered and scarred," then shouldn't that lead us to ask how he got that way, so that we can too? I see that he was battered and scarred during his passion ordeal, the method God used to make a way for us.

Isaiah 53: 4-6
Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

When you suffer the hardships of life without worldly complaint, when you aren't hateful and vindictive, when you pray for your persecutor, you are a strange sight to the world. When life is crummy, you are "deemed afflicted." The world expects you to be angry and almost demands that you get payback.

If instead we endure suffering, if we persevere with a modicum of grace, we garner attention. What is it that she has? the world asks. We are sustained by Christ during our battering, then we reflect our Save-er (savior) to the world.

*The key, crucial part to this working is two-fold: the suffering must be for his glory, and we must be sustained by Christ through it. There is a difference between martyrdom and suffering. Suffering for the sake of Christ is not senseless. When you must summon up all your strength to bite your tongue and you do it to make God proud of you, that is for his glory. When you exert superhuman patience with your moody, irritable toddler, and you teach your older child how God has patience with our own learning curve, you are suffering for his glory.

When I was 8 months pregnant with my firstborn, I stubbed my toe really hard and with some drama fell to the floor muttering and crying. My husband just stared at me with no pity and said "and you expect to have this baby naturally?!" And I yelled- "There's no point in stubbing your toe! Its stupid! When you have a baby you get a great prize at the end of it!"

That is what I mean. Suffering is just trauma when it happens and there is no reason. But if you suffer with one eye on the God who has you in his grasp, and the other on what the world is thinking of your "so-called sustaining God" when you need him, then it is for his glory that you make it through.

Do nothing to tarnish the gospel- if He can't carry you through the hard times, what good is He to the skeptic and the hurting who don't know him?