Thursday, January 23, 2014

365 Days with God - Day 34: An Unlikely God

I'm giving myself a challenge. Read the Bible each day for a whole year, following the ESV Study Guide 1-year plan. Each day, I will post whatever God has revealed to me in His Word, and how it is changing me. A friend of mine once said that nothing has changed her life as much as reading the bible each day - and I'm excited for how this will change me. Join me on an adventure into the heart of God - and day by day, we can learn more about who He is and what that means to us!

- Andy Catts

Day 34, January 23, 2014
Readings: Psalm 33, Genesis 29:31-35, Genesis 30:1-43 2 Chronicles 7, Luke 23:26-56

This is the pivotal moment. The defining example of how the God I serve, Jesus, is different from everything else. Other gods, religions, demand sacrifice, that followers be servants of their god. This service is to incur the god's favor, or blessings, or to gain an eternal paradise.

Not Jesus.

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. "And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!" (Luke 23:33-35)

"Save yourself Jesus," they mocked. "If you're so amazing, if you performed all these miracles for others, perform a miracle for yourself!" And this scoffing, this mockery, truly shows the depth of how little the rulers (read: religious leaders, Pharisees) understood of their own Messiah. Because they believed in a god who demanded service. They had a "job" which paid in blessings. They didn't understand the nature of the kingdom. They didn't know their own King.

Jesus is different because he gives everything instead of demanding everything. He is a King who builds His kingdom by giving everything away, even His own life. Mocked and humiliated, he continues to serve. Continues to die. Continues to love unconditionally. Despite his ability, yes, as the Christ, He could have ended it all. Ascended to Heaven and left us to our misery and depravity.

But He didn't. He stayed. Endured. Faced not only the excruciating physical pain of crucifixion, but the overwhelming spiritual pain of separation from His Father. For us. Not for Himself, but for our redemption. He loves us so much, desires our salvation so much that he was willing to take that upon himself, solely for our benefit. He needs nothing from us - he has everything! But instead he chose to gave us everything.

One I read a quote from an atheist of some kind that read something like this: "If I was God, and I truly loved people, I wouldn't let ANYONE go to hell. I'd stop this religious crap, go down to hell myself and start pulling people out."

Yes, yes yes! That is exactly what God did. God left Heaven and His throne. God came to Earth, in a human body, enduring all of the pain, hardship and suffering that we experience because of our sin. And at the end of his life, Jesus took the punishment meant for us. Jesus went to hell for us. He took the full wrath of God, the pain of separation from a perfect relationship. This is a pain I cannot imagine. A punishment I cannot survive. A God who defies expectations.

Have you met this God? Have you experienced His love? Do you know the lengths He has gone for you? He is no mere puppet master in the sky. He does not leave us to our misery. He does not demand sacrifice. He is a God who serves. Who gives abundantly, beyond our wildest imagination. He is a God who loves us enough to experience the worst punishment, punishment beyond anything we could think of - so that we don't have to.

This is the God I serve.

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