In Easter, we celebrate the ultimate sacrifice and ultimate victory: Christ on the cross; death defeated!
This blog is taken from a message our son, Daniel, gave at his church (with permission).
As I contemplate the death of Jesus on the cross, I realize that our correct response is service to God and obedience to his decrees. God doesn’t owe us anything, we are not entitled to the joys we may often experience; they are a gift.
To base our status as Christians on these joys is to miss the point of his message to us. Yes, his word gives us encouragement. But the essence of our faith is obedience, is in working out on the field, out in the valleys where there is pain and hurt and sadness, for Him. To lose sight of this is to lose sight of the true grounding of faith. Jesus died to free us, and we are free in order to serve him. We are not free so that we can bask in his glory all day and night long. We are free so that we can choose to be slaves. God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what is best for us. He knows that in keeping his commands we will experience joy and delight.
David declares: “The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge” (Psalm 19).
The glory of God is not dependant on our own experience of it. It is pouring forth day after day and night after night. There is a transfixed reality beyond our own experiences. The reality surrounds us – encompasses us – whether we are aware of it or not.
Our call to faith is not based on experiences in the glory of God. We will not always have these experiences with us. Having the knowledge of God, rather than depending on what we feel (which is always changing and shifting), enables us to be patient in times of distance. It enables us to understand that our sanctification is not dependant on our own satisfaction.
If our faith is based in experiences, we will sentimentalize the walk of faith. We are telling God that he owes us something, and setting ourselves up for disappointment. As Paul was working for the Lord, he did not nag God to take him back to his previous third-heaven experience. No, he pressed on towards what was ahead.
This is where obedience comes into the mix. Obedience means that we have fully placed our trust in Christ’s atonement.
2 John 5:3 “This is love for God, to obey his commands.”
But obedience is not only an expression of love; it is a means to remain in the love of God
Isaiah 50:5 “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love.”
This obedience doesn’t make us right with God. Obedience is the way God has provided for us to remain in the knowledge of his love. Obedience spurs us towards maturity – towards strong, stable characters of Christian virtue, untouched by the passing waves around us, by the tides of the times, by own moods. It will keep us joyful to the good times and bad, through times where we cannot see God, and others when we are enamored by His presence.
Ibrahim and Diane