“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Saturday, March 8, 2014

IN CHRIST'S SUFFERING I HAVE FOUND MEANING IN MY OWN

The two greatest Season's in the Christian Calendar are Christmas and Easter. Christmas marks the Incarnation: God made man. 

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, He was with God in the  beginning. ... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, he who came from the Father, full of Grace and truth." (John 1.1 and 14.)

Christ came into the world but the world did not know Him. And yet being God he knew this and still came into the world -- knowing that the road from Bethlehem would inexorably lead to Calvary. He still chose to come to settle the problem of evil and sin that entangles men's hearts to separate them from God. There is no greater love. 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3.16-17).

We have entered the Lenten Season. It is a time when Christians throughout the centuries have given special focus to Jesus Christ's suffering, death and resurrection. It is a time for spiritual purification, to set ourselves right with God again through the atoning love sacrifice of His Son on the cross.

Do not make light of this or discount it. It is the reason Jesus came. He offered Himself in our place to take the penalty of our sins. Christians do not enter this time because of some morbid fascination with pain. From Christ's suffering we can, through faith, be delivered from the ultimate suffering: The loss of eternal life.

It has been through Christ's suffering and death that I have found meaning and purpose in my own 30 years of suffering incurable, degenerative disease. It is in drawing nearer to my Savior in his suffering that I have discovered the Why of my own. In His resurrection lies my certainty that He will raise me from the dead too. My lowly body will be conformed to Christ's glorious body. There will be no more crying, disease or death. He will wipe away every tear that so often blurred by spiritual vision.  We will stand face to face; I will see him as He is. As a child of God, my joy will be complete.

"Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God -- children born not of natural descent, not of human decision, or a husbands will, but born of God." (John 1.12-13.)

And so we enter Lent and humbly contemplate what Christ did for you and me.

Come, ye daughters, help me lament, 
Behold! Whom? The Bridegroom. 
Behold him! How? Like a lamb. 
Behold! What? Behold his patience. 
Behold! Where? Behold our guilt. 
Behold Him, out of love and graciousness, 

Himself carrying the wood of the cross

O guiltless Lamb of God, 
Slaughtered on the stem of the cross, 
Always found patient, 
Although thou wast despised. 
All sin hast thou borne, 

Else we must have despaired. 

Have mercy upon us, O Jesus. 
(Taken from the opening chorus of J.S. Bach's Matthew Passion. To see it performed by Malm√∂ Chamber Choir and orchestra on April 8, 2009, in Lund Cathedral, Sweden, conducted by professor Dan-Olof., click on link below or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XBZQqLUq00]




3 comments:

Viva Cristo Rey said...

Mark, God bless you and PLEASE keep writing. You have a special gift that is very helpful to others.

Mark Pickup said...

Thank you.

Mark Pickup said...

Thank you.