It Came At A Price

“…you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” -1 Corinthians 6:20 (NIV)

Two summers ago I had the wonderful privilege of visiting Washington D.C. One of the places we visited was Arlington Cemetery; where the remains of American soldiers killed in battle are buried. Seeing rows upon rows of white gravestones was a truly sobering experience. But what left an impression on me was what our tour guide left us with. He alluded to the fact that freedom is not really free, but always comes at a price. I then remembered America’s especially vital contributions to the Second World War. Faced with the scourges of fascism and ultra-nationalism, it sent its soldiers to fight in order to preserve not only its own freedom, but the freedom of many other nations as well. Those who enjoy liberty today are indebted to those who saw and continue to see to its maintenance.

When we allow Christ’s Spirit to reside in us, we are no longer bound by our sinful nature, but are able to choose to follow Him. However, this freedom came at the cost of His blood. Since God is holy, He cannot tolerate sin and the appropriate punishment for sin is death. But He did not want His creation to suffer such a fate and wants to reconcile us with Him. For this reason, Christ became the one sacrificial Lamb for all who desire forgiveness and to be made right with God. By His death the penalty for our wickedness is paid, and through the resurrection of Christ we have conquered the power sin and death held over us. Yet why do we voluntarily return to our wickedness? Christ’s sacrifice is not a license to indulge in vice, but it is to be treated with respect knowing that our freedom came at the cost of His life. What should our response be to His selfless and unwavering love? When we submit ourselves to His Spirit and walk in obedience to Him, we will know of the joys of living in the freedom He has given to us. This means seeking to honor Christ in whatever we do, be it in mind, body, soul, or spirit; allowing Him to aid us living according to His righteousness.

Study Your History

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” -Romans 15:4 (NIV)

I often cringe when I hear people say that studying history is boring and irrelevant. While historians are sometimes Google+Photoaccused of having immersed themselves in the past to the point that they have disconnected themselves from the present, history itself is meant to be a guide. A good scholar of history knows how to take the lessons of the past and apply them to the present in the hopes of constructing a better future. To work to prevent the horrors of the past from occurring again, we must first understand how and why they came about. Conversely, what was good and noble of the past should be reclaimed and appropriately implemented within the context of the modern age. An understanding of history will help us make sense of the world around us; where it has been and where it is going.

The Word of God, is the best history textbook available to man. Its pages bear witness to the story of humanity from the time God created us and our descent into wickedness, to Christ’s redemptive sacrifice on the cross and the hope we have through Him by identifying with His death and resurrection. Its characters are real people living in real places at real points in human history. Even historians outside the Christian tradition attest to the veracity of the Scriptures! Throughout the Bible we are provided with examples of people who chose to remain within the will of God and those who chose to remain outside; along with the consequences of their respective decisions. But unless we have personally chosen to apply the truths of the Bible to our lives, then our knowledge of the Scriptures is meaningless. Only when we have allowed the Spirit of Christ to reside in our hearts and have submitted our understanding to His perfect wisdom will He be able to teach us through His Word. With Him as our Guide, we will know how to live according to His righteousness and dwell in the hope of being ultimately restored through Him.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

A Revolutionary Love

“‘But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.’” -Luke 6:27-28 (NIV)

When we have been the victim of injustice and insult, the command to love our enemies seems ludicrous. Human Google+Phototendency is to seek retribution for wrongs through our own wisdom and might. If someone strikes us, our instant reaction is to strike them ten times as hard. If we have become the subject of torment and ridicule, our most treasured desire is the day when we can inflict the same misery upon our oppressors. Yet this is how the cycle of hatred and violence begins; by a simple yearning to get even. The moment we let vengeance to invade our hearts, we will be consumed by an insatiable rage. Revenge will distort our image of people and propel us to take pleasure in committing horrible acts that we thought we would never carry out. Though we may think that we are able to master these unbridled emotions, in actuality we become slaves to our hate and bitterness.

Our unwillingness to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us often stems from the misconception that to do so is a sign of timidity and weakness, along with an acceptance of the wrongs that have been exacted upon us. But this is far from the truth. Christ never acknowledged that the injustices committed against Him were inherently virtuous. While suffering on the cross He cried out to God in Luke 23:24, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Yet while He was omnipotent and could have easily overpowered His persecutors, He loved them. Redemption and restoration would not come through violence, but by a love that has no earthly parallel.

Christ went to the cross for the Pharisees who accused Him, for the soldiers who clubbed and tortured Him, for men who nailed Him, and for the crowd who hurled insult after insult while He endured the agony of crucifixion. He did this so that through His death and resurrection they may no longer be slaves to wickedness, but free under His righteousness. As children of Christ we are called to emulate the selfless love shown by Him. But as long as we have made vengeance and hatred our idol, we will never be capable of displaying this love. Only when we have allowed Christ to invade our hearts and have submitted ourselves to His Spirit will His love overflow from our lives. His sweetness is more effective than any weapon and when we make that choice to have it made manifest in ourselves, it will bear witness to those around us of the beauty and freedom that is available through the power of Christ.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.