Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Chosen

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

1 Peter 2:9
But you are a
chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

Being a special people, or a chosen generation, or even a royal priesthood does not make me better or superior to those who are not yet called out of darkness or even to others who are. We too quickly forget where we came from. That each and every one of us was called out of darkness into the marvelous light of Jesus Christ.  We were called out, not for our merit or tallent or usefulness. We are all called, but not all choose to respond to that call. We too often mistakenly think that we must some how become good enough, nobel enough, righteous enough, to one day, when we get it all together, tip the scales of justice in our favor and then approach God. None of us will ever be good enough. There is only one way to approach God who is holy and that is to accept the means that He provides.

In the garden Jesus cries out to God in Luke 22:41-43 (NKJV)
41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 
Jesus himself cries out to God - Is there another way to restore the broken relationship between God and his created people could we do that in stead of this. Hebrews12:1-2 reminds us.  Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The joy set before Jesus was that there would be a way for broken, sinful people to be made right with God who is just and holy. Justice had to be satisfied. Someone had to pay the price for the wrong that was done. We as a people are hopelessly broken, unless we accept the way that God provides to restore us. It is not that he comes to condem us. We are already broken and dying in our sin. We are like a person who has been bitten by a poisonous snake. The deadly venom is already at work and unless an antidote is quickly administered the person has no hope of survival. All of us have been bitten by the poison of sin and brokenness. The question left to us is do you want the antidote? There are lots of things you might try but in the end only one will work. You are not asked to fix yourself, or clean yourself up, all that is asked of you is are you willing to believe in the one who has the antidote. Are you willing to admit that you are hopelessly broken and allow Him to begin a work of restoration in your life. 

I see no where that one must walk forward in a church service or say the right set of words. The thief next to Jesus, according to Jesus would be with him in paradice. That guy did nothing beyond believe that Jesus was who he said he was. He had no time to make things right with the people he had wronged. He had no time to be baptized, he did no good deeds. He was a bad man who deserved to be punished and die. Two bad men had a last chance that day as they hung beside Jesus and the life ebbed from their dying bodies. One mocked and scorned Jesus - the other turned to him and believed. Which of the two are you?

I have nothing to lord over any other broken or sinful person. I too deserve death on a cross for my sins but I have received an undeserved pardon. That pardon has caused me to want to live my life in thankfulness and service to the one who rescued me from darkness. It has caused me to daily remind myself where I have come from and to extend the hand of God's mercy and forgiveness to others who are perishing.  I am still broken, I still make poor choices, and at times badly represent the love of Jesus to others. I have to choose each day to pick up my cross and follow him. I have to choose everyday to allow him into the broken, and damaged places of my life.  I am learning to accept that we are all very blind and broken. We are all at various places in God's restoration process. It is foolish of me to think that I am some how better than anyone else. It is far better for me to look beyond the faults and failures of other to see where Jesus is working in that life. Rather than point out what is broken I make it my aim to celebrate what has been restored. I would prefere to link arms with my broken brothers and sisters celebrating the things we have overcome, encouraging others to not give up but to overcome. Pointing people to Jesus and living my life in such a way as to reflect his kindness and his mercy to others. 

It is his kindness that leads us to repentance. To turn around from the path of destruction we have been walking on and to choose to follow Jesus on the path that leads to life. To make room for others to come along on that journey, no matter how messed up and broken they are to accept and forgive just like Jesus.

Jesus came and modled for us how one is to become great in His Kingdom. It is to lay down our lives for others. It is to be a servant to all. It is to forgive as we have been forgiven.  It is to reach out with a hand of kindess to others who are wallowing in the muck and poison of this fallen world.  My job is not to point out the faults and failures of others. My job is to reach out with His love to say to fellow travelers, I've struggled with that and here's how Jesus helped me to overcome. It is also to be humble enough to admit that I still have blindspots, and I have areas that are broken and to be gracious when others try to help me.  Walking together is not always pretty. It often pushes our buttons, and reveals places that we are still broken. There is a beauty that is revealed as we begin to become free and learn to walk in the gifts Jesus has given.  As we learn to walk in his love - we become a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. He sets a table for us in the presence of his enemies. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Look there is a better way, there is an antidote,will you admit that you need it and receive the healing and the new life that is offered. 

This is the character of the new person in Christ. Colossians 3:12-14
12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

In Ephesians 4:1-3 we are urged to walk worthy of our calling.
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 

The thief on the cross speaks volumes to me. If you are still breathing - its not too late to turn to Jesus. Most of us however, do have days and years of our lives to learn to follow Jesus. To do something with the life he has given us for His glory. We are not instantly zapped out of here at the point of conversion we are left here to be like salt, and light. We are wheat growing among the weeds.

I read this quote by Sarah Young today " I challenge you to relinquish the fantasy of an uncluttered world. Accept each day as it comes, find Me in the midst of it all."  We are left here in a cluttered, damaged, messed up world. It is in that messed up world that we are learning to look to Jesus, to hear his voice, to show his mercy to others, to be humble enough to admit our own brokenness and to share the journey with others. She goes on to say, "Remember that your ultimate goal is not to control or fix everything around you; it is to keep communing with Me."  
Dear Lord, 
Help us today to realize that you did not call us to be lone ranger's but you called us to walk and grow together. We are all broken and together you are taking us like bits of broken glass and fashioning us in to one beautiful mosaic.  You called us to be a royal priesthood administering your grace and mercy, pointing people to the truth of your undeserved love. Called to proclaim your praises and to  become a light in the darkness so others might see their way to you. Help us to love like you love.


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