The Cross = Love

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:13 (NIV).

As a writer and aspiring author, I’m somewhat of a fan of stories. 

Ok, I’m going to be totally honest with you guys – that’s an understatement. I love stories; like really love them. I was that kid who went to the library every weekend to get new books to read all through grade school. You know the kid I’m talking about.

The one who brought books with them wherever they went. Who would sit on the steps at recess to read the new book in their favorite series. Who stapled very-homemade looking stories together and illustrated them herself with her crayons. That was me, I was that kid. And today, I’m pretty much a grown-up-version of that kid. 

I have a pretty wide range of stories that I have read and loved, but some of my favorite stories are the ones that focus primarily on the friendships and relationships between characters. Not just romantic relationships—but relationships in general. Stories about friendship, and commitment, and sticking by the people who matter most through thick and thin. Stories that give us hope, and show us the better side of humanity.

I think the reason that stories like this have always stood out to me is because there is something inside all of us as humans that longs for this. To have someone in our corner who has seen us at our best and our worst. Who knows us better than we know ourselves. Who will always stand by us, through the thick and thin. Who loves us unconditionally.

We were wired for this kind of extravagant love—however, too often we can try to look to the wrong place to find it. 

So many of us try to fill this need with our relationships with those around us. Maybe we look for it in a particular friendship. Maybe we look for it in a clique, or the approval of a certain group at school. Or, maybe we look for it in a dating relationship—believing that if we can just have our happily-ever-after with the perfect rom-com soundtrack, all of our problems will dissolve in an instant.

However, none of these relationships will be able to satisfy us in the end. Sure, they might be great and they might bring us some sense of happiness, but they will never truly fill the need that we were created with—to know and be known by our Creator. No story that we hope to create or recreate can ever compare to the greatest story ever told—the story of a God who came down to save a world that was broken and shattered and completely without hope. 

Jesus was with God in the beginning, when they (as a Trinity, along with the Holy Spirit) created everything in the world that we see and know today. Every blade of grass and every branch on a tree. Every cell and every particle. Every fish in the ocean and every bird in the air. He also created the first humans (Adam and Eve) and had perfect communion with them, until they broke God’s law and brought original sin into this world—separating an entire human race from a Holy and perfect God. But even still, He loved us far too much to let us stay lost, and broken, and in chains.

He took on the sin of the entire human race and offered Himself as a final sacrifice so that we could be welcomed into God’s Kingdom. He loved us so much that He couldn’t bear the thought of spending eternity without us—even suffering on a cross to give us life. And it is in His death and His Resurrection that we find life, love, purpose, and everything that we were created for.

I know this is a familiar story to many of us and I know that this is something that many of us have heard time and time again. But it is still something that is so important to remember—perhaps, especially during Easter week, when we remember and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, and the sacrifice that He made for each and every one of us.

If you are reading this and you are already a Christian, than I want to encourage you to never stop seeing this story with fresh eyes, and sharing this hope with a broken world.

If you are reading this and you have never heard it before, than I want you to know that God loves you so much and desires a personal relationship with you—all you have to do is let Him in.

If you are reading this and have somehow been burned by the church or by Christians who have acted less than Christ-like, than I want you to reconsider your ideas about God—and not hold God responsible for the things that people do. To know that God loves you and is still pursuing you—and wants you to see Him for who He really is.

Whoever you are reading this, God loves you. 

And this, to paraphrase Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas, this is what Easter is all about. 

Image result for cross equals love

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 (NIV). 

 

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A Poem For Easter

Love Saves

Darkness, darkness aluminates the night

Scattered, battered, running in fright

Do you know him, do you see Him, hang from the tree

No I do not, said Peter, not once but three

Blood flowed, love showed, the sky glowed

Emptiness, emptiness, hovers over the land

As Jesus cries from the cross why has Thou forsaken this man

Who hangs in agony worse than we can know

All the while His love still continued to show

Arisen, Arisen, said the angel to they

Not on day one, day two, but day three

From the lips of angel He directed they

To see the empty tomb where Jesus no longer lay

Because it is finished, don’t you see here now

Love, love has saved us here, taken a bow

Because nothing could keep Him down, not a grave

Finally, with a risen Savior we’re saved

Not by mere man, or a hero in cape

But a God who loved us all, who has changed the day

This is why we celebrate, you see

Because of God’s love, poured out for you and me

Happy Easter everyone! I hope y’all have a great day! 

 

 

 

Some Thoughts on Tragedy and the Resurrection

Yesterday, at Brussels International Airport, two bombs went off and killed over thirty people, with many scarred by the trauma of the event. (www.bbc.com)

But that’s not the first tragedy to strike the world. Just last year, ISIS struck Paris in a series of traumatic attacks. And, a couple of months back, California dealt with their own incident, this one a shooting. Not to mention that we have hundreds of refugees fleeing from danger in their own country and hundreds of our own citizens dealing with homelessness, poverty, disease, abuse, and about a thousand other tragedies.

Most of this doesn’t even surprise us when we see it. It’s just another hour of nightly news, which leaves us asking “Where is God in all of this?”

It has often been said that tragedy is the atheist’s best argument against God. After all, if God is good, why would He allow suffering?

The truth is, we often don’t know. We can’t always explain the reason behind every tragedy. While I believe that God can work through tragedy, I don’t believe He ever causes it.  It is simply the result of living in a fallen world. Someday, God promises to take away the suffering of the world, and make it bright, beautiful, and new.

We have hope, even in a world that’s broken. Jesus experienced suffering on this earth too, as He died on the cross to wash away our sins. And, because He did, no matter what we go through in this life, we can have hope for the next. Hebrews 9:28 says “So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

When Jesus died on the cross, He didn’t stay dead. God Himself looked tragedy straight in the eye so that in the end, none of us would have to. He was beat, flogged, and harassed, and nailed to the cross in hopes that each of us, when we came to the end of life, wouldn’t be faced with death but new life. 

And, because of the cross, we have been given the freedom to go to God directly and approach Him with anything that may be weighing heavily on our heart.

God is bigger than the tragedies that we face in this life. I am not saying this to belittle what the people affected by Brussels went through, but to remind anyone reading this that we have hope beyond this life. As a popular worship song titled Your Love Neve Fails says, “there may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

This Easter week, let’s praise God for the life that He’s poured out for us and remain in prayer for all those around the world dealing with hardships.