Today's Devotional Thought:
1 Peter 1:18-19, "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."
Luke 9:23-24, "Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it."
Popular author and shame researcher Brené Brown recently talked about coming back to church after years away and the moment "the whole Jesus thing" finally clicked. She said:
"People would want love to be unicorns and rainbows. So then you send Jesus, and people say, "Oh my..., love is hard, love is sacrifice, love is trouble, love is rebellious." As Leonard Cohen sings, "Love is not a victory march … it's a broken hallelujah." Love isn't hearts and bows. It is very controversial. In order for forgiveness to really happen, something has to die. Whether it's your expectations of a person, or your idea about who you are. There has to be a death for forgiveness to happen. In all of these faith communities where forgiveness is easy, and love is easy, there's not enough blood on the floor to make sense of that." [William McDavid, Ethan Richardson, and David Zahl, Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints), (Mockingbird, 2015), page 47]
God has not called us to an easy love. He's called us to a cross. Jesus said, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it." Unless you die to self you cannot follow. If you do not follow you are not Jesus' disciple. Slick-tongued preachers pour honey coated words into itching ears, "I'm ok, you're ok." We sing, "Just As I Am," as if God expects nothing from us but our assent. Perhaps no one has loved you enough to tell you: unless you die you cannot live. Taking up your cross daily and following Jesus isn't easy-chair Christianity. But there isn't grace without a cross. Grace may be free but it isn't cheap.
For their to be forgiveness something has to die. Christ must die so we might live. We must die so Christ may live in us. This isn't unicorns and rainbows. Real love is messy. Real love leaves blood on the floor.
Prayer: Holy Father, today we take up our cross and follow. Help us, as John the Baptist once said, to decrease and Christ to increase. Help us to die to ourselves that we might live. We thank You for Your messy love that left the precious blood of Your Son on the floor for us. It is our only hope. We pray in Jesus name, amen.