My appetite for the milk chocolatey goodness of Easter eggs suddenly lacked enthusiasm.
I can only imagine the fullness of his experience and pain. Friends betrayed him with a kiss, he was wrongly accused, beaten, mocked and cursed. He called his friends to pray with him, but they couldn't even stay awake for an hour, he begged his father to remove the call on his life, but always came back to choosing his father's will and not his own, knowing it led to a cross. No wonder he was sweating blood. (Luke 22:44)
Can you imagine such crazy love?
He didn't let his pain or hurt lead him away from the road to the cross. Instead he fixed his eyes on Papa God and kept taking one step at a time toward the road to death.
Here comes the uncomfortable bit. We've been called to die too. Not a literal death, but a death to our self or flesh. That selfish place within each of us that demands we have our way. I for one fight my flesh on a daily basis and I don't always win... in choosing death however, we are called to a richer living. A living to God.
"Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." Romans 6:8-11 (emphasis mine)But the life he lives he lives to God...
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to teach on the subject of worship. I was so excited to really dig into the word and discover new hidden treasures of what it means to worship Him but not all of what I discovered was very comfortable and friendly like so many of the worship songs now a days make it sound. In fact one of the most often used words for worship comes from a meaning to give homage like a dog licking his masters hand. This imagery forced me to reevaluate what I think of when it comes to worship and living for God.
Homage. I like this word.
Homage. I like this word.
There's something deep and hidden behind this simple word. To give homage is to belong to someone. In the olden days it was what happened to a man who lived on the king's land. In exchange of the land they were to live as the king's vassal, to be his man and give him homage, to go to war if called on or to stand with the king. It was a public declaration of belonging. When people came across these men, they would call them a "King's man" or the "King's vassal".
I came across an example of this in an unlikely novel I read recently, it digs deep into what it means to be the king's vassal or man. In this book, by Robin Hobb, a young boy who's the illegitimate son of king-in-waiting Chivalry, is given a promise by king Shrewd (his grandfather) that if he accepts his place as a king's man the king will make sure he has what he needs and will train him in swordplay, court manners, etc. The boy agrees to this promise and suddenly his life is no longer his own.
It's the same with us. As soon as we choose Christ our lives our not our own anymore. When we choose to live our lives to Him we can no longer live our lives to our selves. Another example. When the boy in this novel is challenged to do a hard task for his king and everything within him is saying "no" he has to come to terms with the promise he agreed to, his life is to do the kings will. Anything less is treason. Even uttering a whispered complaint or challenge about the king's order is too close to treason for comfort. Likewise we no longer live for our will but for His. Anything less should be considered treasonous to our Papa King. Not because of some legalistic ideal, but because of our crazy love to honor and respect the King of kings.
Going back to the novel, this boy who has no name becomes known for his loyalty to king-in-waiting Verity, his uncle. He continually sets his self aside for the greater good of the kingdom, he submits his will to the king and because of this people call him "Verity's man".
I want to be Verity's man. To be God's man.
It's not an easy road though. My self still shouts to be heard and demands rights it has no right to demand. I don't have any rights any more. I gave all that away as soon as I chose Jesus, because choosing Jesus means dying to my self and sin and living to God. Living a life of obedience, not because I have to but because I want to return some of that crazy love Jesus has for me.
I looked up what it means to "live to God." It comes from the Greek word záō which means* to live, breathe, be among the living, not lifeless, not dead. To enjoy real life, to have true life worthy of the name. It's something active, blessed, endless in the kingdom of God. To live in the manner of the living and acting of mortals and character. It's a living water, having vital power in itself and exerting the same upon the soul. The metaphor is to be in full vigor, to be fresh, strong, efficient. As an adjective it is active, powerful and efficacious.
All that in one little word. Live.
One of my favorite lines in Lord of the Rings is when Samwise Gamgee is holding the One Ring and looking out at the vast wasteland of Mordor. The ring is tempting him with this barren landscape, and he knows that all he has to do is put the ring on and he can transform the dead earth to a living garden, the best the whole of Middle Earth will ever see. Sam is a gardener. The temptation is great. But then Tolkien writes, "But it was the love of his master that stayed his hand." It was Frodo's crazy love and Sam's desire to return that crazy love that kept him from temptation.
Oh that we would all be a little more like Sam and stay our hands from evil because of that crazy love Jesus has for us.
Life is full of difficulties and detours, but if we can keep our eyes fixed like Jesus and keep walking the road He has for us we can experience the crazy love in fullness and know what it is to really live to God.
So here's where I start. This is my public declaration, I am God's man. I am His vassal. I may not always like the things He calls me to, I know my flesh will fight because of the uncomfortable places I go because of obedience to Him, I will be ridiculed, mocked, wrongly accused and more, but how can I not return His crazy love for me, by choosing death to sin and self, for the living he has in store for those who choose it? What about you? Are you ready for this kind of adventure?
*meaning of záō can be found in Strong's #2198, http://www.studylight.org/lexicons/greek/gwview.cgi?n=2198