Note: this is an adaptation of part of the preaching from our Easter worship gathering. Sorry, if I’m irritating you with recycled content. Oh, and if you want to see the entire worship celebration, with loads of music and celebration and lifting up Jesus, you can go here.
Jesus didn’t come, and live, and die, and rise, just to save you from hell.
He also did it to save you from an ordinary life.
It’s true. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” That’s Jesus, in John 10:10
He wasn’t talking about the future, about heaven. He was talking about right now, in this lifetime.
Because Jesus is the Risen King, and you can believe it and act on it, you can have a life that is above the ordinary.
What characterizes our ordinary lives from which Jesus sets us free?
Bondage to Sin. We church people talk about how people who don’t know Jesus are trapped in sin, but how many of us who have said we believe in Jesus still fall into the same traps again and again? Eventually, we might not even be bothered by our failings; we tell ourselves that “nobody’s perfect” and this is our personal proof. I’m just giving Jesus something to perfect at the end.
But Jesus wants you to be free. Do not doubt that. How will we be free from sin? Francis Chan illustrates the solution in a great way in his book Crazy Love: “Imagine going for a run while eating a box of Twinkies. Besides being self-defeating and side ache-inducing, it would also be near impossible – you would have to stop running in order to eat the Twinkies.
“In the same way, you have to stop loving and pursuing Christ in order to sin. “
If we know Jesus the Risen King, we can pursue him in love, and as we run to the one we love, we are free!
Ordinary lives are also Burdened by Circumstances. Jesus told us “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”. Some people come to Jesus hoping that the trouble in their lives will go away. But Jesus basically guarantees that even when we follow him – and maybe especially because we are following him – we will have trouble. But because Jesus is King, we know two things about our troubles.
First, Jesus will be a Righteous King, and will pay us back or reward us for our frustrations, our hardships, even our persecutions. In Luke 6, Jesus says “”Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven;” and Second, Jesus our King uses our trials to shape us into his image. As Paul put it in Romans 5, “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Finally, ordinary lives are Beholden to Self; that is, we feel the need to create our own meaning, our own impact on the world, our own legacy and purpose. Sadly, even the most high-minded of these efforts are prone to devolving into self-centeredness and ego-maintenance. But in following Jesus the Risen King, we are invited to give ourselves to his purposes, and to enter into the greatest Story in the world, in which the Holy Spirit moves in us to enable people to see Jesus for who he is, and invite them into the community of his people, and love the people in the community so that they may be transformed and made whole by King Jesus. We get to enter into the Story of people made whole, and we ourselves are made whole as we let go of our agenda and accept Jesus’ agenda.
Set free, in all circumstances and situations, to be strengthened, healed, and made whole by Jesus and his family – that’s the way more than ordinary life that Jesus offers to you and me.
Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that, today?