Friday, September 11, 2009

The Importance of Being Glorious

Have you ever thought about the fact that we are Jesus' reward for enduring the cross? We being the church, we being his people, we being you and me.

Have you ever let this truth hit you deep down, let it soak in, and really let all of its implications grab hold of you? I have caught a glimpse of what this means in the last few days, and I wanted to write on it, both to firm it up in me, and to share.

As a side note, I recently bought a bible with 26 translation of the New Testament. It basically lists major variants from the KJV, but it is an amazing resource and has really opened up a lot of different verses for me.

One of this verses is John 17:24. In this passage, Jesus is essentially praying for you and me, for "all who will have faith in [him] through [the disciples] message." It is during the Last Supper sense, just before he goes off to be murdered.

The verse in the King James reads: "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."

When I read that verse, nothing really stands out to me. It seems like the same thing I have been hearing all my life. But when I read it in the Moffit translation, it really hit me differently.

"Father, I ask that these, your gift to me, may be beside me where I am..."

We are Jesus' gift for enduring the cross. Jesus went to the cross and died with a reward in sight, and that reward is us. We are his gift.

When I think about what the church looks like today, I can't help but be heart broken over the fact that we're a pretty crappy gift for our King. Jesus made us holy through the sacrifice of his body (Heb 10:10), but all we do is cry out "make us holy". He gave us his glory, that we would be one (John 17:22), but all we do is bicker and fight and make new denominations because we can't be one. He did it all for free, as a gift to us, not by our own works (Eph 2:8-9), but all we do is try to work and earn it.

His blood makes us holy, nothing more, nothing less. The Son of God's blood was poured out to make us holy, once and for all (Heb 10:14), there is no other way to become holy than through Jesus' blood. There will never again be an offering for sin because Jesus' blood covers us for all eternity, once and for all, till the end of the age. One translation put it like this, "there is no longer any need of an offering for sin." Why? Because Jesus was the final offering.

I've been trying to think of an analogy for this so that we might better understand. Imagine for a minute that you are in pretty bad debt. Maybe you have a ton of student loans, or you went a little crazy with your credit card, and you owe $50,000. It is going to take you quite a while to pay it all back $100/month. Now imagine that some foreign king hears of your debt and tells you he wants to help you out a little bit. He deposits 50,000 rubies (not dollars) into your bank account. You think, “great! Now my debt is paid off!” Problem is, you’re not taking into account the exchange rate. So now you are living debt free, but still dirt poor because you think that you don’t have any money left over. You think that you have to earn your fortune. What you didn’t realize is that 1 ruby is equal to about 10 billion dollars. You are basically a multi-trillionaire living as if you were dirty poor because you don’t understand the inheritance that this foreign king gave you.

This is essentially the situation that most Christians today find themselves in. We believe that Jesus paid our initial debt, but don’t realize that he has an inexhaustible amount of grace for us, that every time we screw up, it doesn’t put us into debt, but draws upon our infinite bank account of grace.

And its not even about sin or no sin, it is about having all of the king’s resources at our fingertips because he has made us holy. Not only do we not go into debt, but we have billions of dollars we can spend on good things. We have an unending reserve of resources.

But how happy do you think the king who paid your debt and gave you access to his bank account would be if he found out that you are still living as a slave?

Now consider the fact that you are supposed to be this king’s bride. The king is planning this amazing banquet feast for you to come join him in, and you are the guest of honor. He has invited all of his friends and all of his servants have been preparing this banquet for years. He has literally poured his blood, sweat, and tears into this banquet.

He has even sent you his personal aid to help you in preparing for this day. The aid is supposed to teach you all the etiquette for the banquet, how to act like the royalty that you are. The only problem is, you still have it in your head that you are a servant. You don’t realize that you have access to the king’s full resources, and you don’t listen to the king’s aid when he tells you all the great things about you. It is like you plug up your ears and refuse to see the reality right in front of you. The king has chosen you, made you worthy, and invited you to dine with him, but you are too busy telling yourself that you are unworthy, rather than accepting the fact that your worthiness has nothing to do with you and everything to do with what the king says about you.

Imagine if you showed up to the king’s banquet, the most beautiful, expensive, fabulous banquet thrown in the history of the world, imagine that you should up to this banquet in your servant’s garb. Imagine that you were in ratty old cloths, sweaty from a long day of labor (that the king’s aid should have been doing for you), dirt on your face, runny nose, the whole nine yards.

Wouldn’t this be basically the ultimate slap in the face for the king? He has made it his life’s work to create this banquet and prepare you for it, he sent you his best friend and personal aid to groom you, he even had to sacrifice himself, to suffer and die and be raised from the dead in order to throw this banquet with you are the guest of honor. All this preparation, all this work on his part to get you here, all to be taken as a free gift. You didn’t have to earn a single ounce of the honor and worth he has given you; he did it all.

But the whole time, instead accepting the free gift, you tried to earn your honor and worth by working for it. Instead of being the royalty that he made you, you tried to work to make yourself into royalty, saying you weren’t worthy to accept it as a gift, you had to earn it.

I don’t want to imagine the look on the king’s face when he was expecting a glorious bride and you show up in rags. “Didn’t you get my personal aid, my best friend that I sent to you? Didn’t I tell you that I made you worthy? Wasn’t I flogged and murdered to make you whole and complete? Aren’t I enough for you?!?” I can’t imagine the pain in the king’s voice. “Don’t you get what I have done for you???”

I can’t fathom what it would be like to dedicate your entire life and all the resources of heaven for this one purpose, only for your bride not to get it, for your bride think that it is all about her and not what you have done for her. What Jesus made us into has nothing to do with what we can or have earned, but it has everything to do with what he deserves.

When the high king of heaven pours his blood out to make for himself a holy and beautiful bride, and when he says, “It is finished,” meaning, “I’ve done it, I’ve made my bride holy, now all she has to do is come to me,” I’m pretty sure that he meant it.

He made us holy when he died on the cross. He deserves a bride that stops trying to make herself holy through her own works and accepts the fact the He made us holy through His works.

The only suitable response to such a gift is to accept and live as the bride he made us into. Jesus is throwing a huge party in heaven, he is demanding that we attend, and as the guest of honor’s gift and only request, we’d better make it worth his while and accept.

It has nothing to do with what we do or earn, but everything to do with what he did and says about us. If you have accepted the invitation to be his bride, his gift, then he has made you holy and worthy. There is nothing left for you to do but live in that reality.