God is Good: A Benediction

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Oia, Santorini, Greece. Photographer: Danbu14

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1,2

“All roads to the judgment seat of Christ.” Keith Green

During the 1800’s there was a man name Charles Blondin who was made famous for his tight rope walking across the Niagara Walls. He was so well known even President Abraham Lincoln referred to himself as Blondin in an analogy in his run-up to the Presidential Election. Blondin was known for not only for the incredible feat of walking across a tightrope over the Niagara Falls, but also doing it in creative ways. Blondin juggled across the  tightrope, he did it blindfolded in a sack, he did it on stilts, he did it carrying a man on his back, he did it standing on a chair with only one leg balanced,  he even brought out an oven one time, set it down in the middle of the tightrope, and cooked and ate an omelet on it.

One story that sticks out in particular for me was he used to wheelbarrow sacks of potatoes across the tightrope. It was said he then would ask his audience if they believed he could wheelbarrow a person across the tightrope as well. The crowd went wild and enthusiastically said yes. Boldin then would ask for volunteers, and no one would ever step up. I love this story because it demonstrates two different types of faith. One faith is more of an intellectual costless faith, the other is backed by action and risk. The second kind of faith is the kind Jesus is calling us to.

In the Gospel of Mark, we see Jesus giving a parable to a very large crowd about the Kingdom of God. Jesus uses farming imagery here, in what is called the Parable of the Sower. Jesus tells his audience about a man who sowed seeds among different types of environments. Jesus said some of the seed some fell along the path, and birds devoured it, some seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it immediately sprang up, since it had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose it was scorched since it had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, and thorns grew up and choked it, and yielded no grain. And finally some seeds fell among good soil, produced grain, growing up and yielding thirty, sixty, and hundred fold.

Jesus disciples were unclear on what the parable meant so they asked Him privately after about what exactly his parable meant. The Gospel of Mark goes on to say “And he (Jesus) said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The  sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

I give this example because we all have to take an honest look at our lives and ask ourselves what kind of faith do we really have. We must ask ourselves do we really love Jesus by obeying Him? (John 14:23) Is he really lord of our lives? Are we really living fruitful lives? Do we tell others about the gospel or disciple anyone? Is this even on our radar? Are we consumed with just living and getting by, meanwhile forgetting the real purpose of life? Are we living functionally secular lives? These are hard questions, I think about them often, and unfortunately know I don’t meet these expectations often, but I hope to grow, and look to Jesus in the meantime when I fail. The truth is Jesus is gracious, but He also dishes out hard words for us in the scriptures because loves us deeply. Because God is good, and gracious I want to end with this benediction from the Book of Romans:

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31-39

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