Safety only comes at the cost of freedom. Last week we honored those that fought for our freedom while forsaking safety all together. This week many are willing to forego freedom in order to be safe though more accurately what we’re hearing are folks willing to forfeit the actual safety and freedom of others in order to keep themselves from improbable or even imagined danger. Greatness and cowardice both use the word sacrifice, the later is willing to sacrifice others, the former knows that’s not sacrifice at all and is disposed to offer themselves first. Let’s choose greatness.

Jesus doesn’t promise us safety, He offers us freedom.

Liberty that’s not shared is not liberty at all!

Jesus didn’t and doesn’t play to the crowd; He’s always seeking the person as opposed to the people. We on the other hand are repeatedly sacrificing individuals in the name of what’s best for all. The greater good is usually a smokescreen for having it my way which doesn’t seem like Jesus at all.

I recently heard that the chances of you existing are one in 400 trillion. Statistics being what they are I had to look into it and sure enough there’s some pretty good data that backs this up. I also came across a formula that had the odds at one in 700 trillion and another that put the likelihood at 1 in 10 to the 2,685,000th power. Just for comparison, scientists approximate the number of atoms known to exist at 10 to the 80th power. You are a miracle!

If you’re reading this it means you’ve won the Mega Bagillions Lottery! The only question now is how are you going to spend it? Seriously, what are you settling for because you’re not aware of how amazing you are? What insecurities do you live with because you can’t catch a break? What small change could you make today in the light of knowing how astonishing you are that will not only change your life but also those with the honor of interacting with you?

Every day our lives are filled with tragedy. Death, heartbreak and catastrophe dominate the media and too often get much closer. What can we do? I see three general options:

  1. Ignore what’s going on unless that proves to be impossible.
  2. Rant, rave and demand others do something.
  3. Engage, get involved and make a difference ourselves.

Option one is the path most chosen. The day to day busyness of our lives has a way of making this seem like the only option. Combining our hectic lives with the overwhelming volume of bad news makes it easy to think there’s nothing we can do.

Option two is smoke and mirrors. If I can make enough noise, maybe no one will notice things are only getting worse and I can put the blame on others. The distressing aspects of this option are; it’s primarily focused on the past and few hearts get changed.

Option three changes the question altogether. Instead of asking, “What can we do?” We’re now asking, “What can I do?” This is how we change the world! And the answer to, “What can I do?” is Love. We can’t legislate it and we can’t expect others to do it for us. Each day we encounter hurt, lonely, angry, insecure people. They need to be loved and they need to know someone cares. We can do that! We probably won’t make headlines but imagine the difference that can be made. What shooter or bomber could have their heart changed by real love before they ever even consider…

Gospel means Good News. The Gospel of Jesus or Jesus’ Good News is that He is God and that He loves you! We who know and understand this are asked to share this message with no strings attached. Unfortunately too often what is heard from us is “god loves me and he would love you too if you were like me.” This is not the Gospel. People are desperate to know they are loved and the world is persistently presenting overwhelming evidence that they’re not. We have to be different; we must present the truth of God’s unconditional love, not just in word but also in action.

Freedom is scary; in fact it’s so frightening most of us choose to remain imprisoned. Rather than join God in the moment and trust Him with our future we cling to what’s familiar and what we believe we control even when it’s painful and unhealthy.  Freedom is more than available, it’s God’s desire and we are presented with the opportunity to choose it constantly. So instead of entertaining the same old thoughts, living according to other’s opinions and staying in our well worn rut; take a chance! Follow your heart, live and love in the now!

Is it ironic, paradoxical or just outright diabolical that we use this verse to justify judging others? Isn’t it what Jesus said to the woman right after he told the religious people not to judge her? Is it possible this statement indicates that her sin is between her and God? And isn’t it comfortingly amazing that just a few verses later He tells us “I judge no one.”?

“When we follow Jesus, we follow Him, not away from the world, but more deeply into the world.

When we follow Jesus, He leads us deeper into the world; not away from it. This initially confuses most of us, because we thought we were following Jesus to be freed from this world, and yet He wants to lead us right back into it! Why would He lead us back there? We don’t want to go back. We left it all behind so we could follow Jesus in peace and safety. But it is into the world He leads us. Why? Because God has a plan for us.” -Jeremy Myers/The Skeleton Church

And the plan is for us to bring His love to everyone. Not judgment, not condemnation and certainly not fear. The love God wants us to reflect to this world must be rooted in trust and neither love nor trust is real if attached to conditions. God loves you if… is not the message!

“You are the salt of the earth…”

This statement from Jesus is intended to give us direction, to help us understand our role in this world since “that which is perfect has come”. Few will disagree with what was just said. However we do see dramatically conflicting interpretations of how this lives out.

These opposing views begin when we determined which of salt’s two primary functions we’re going to emulate or follow. Are we going to apply salt to enhance the flavor or to act as a preservative? Most of us are taught to be the preservative spending much of our lives fighting to maintain things we can’t even be sure of, unaware that what we are stubbornly trying to preserve is the very thing Jesus came to transform.

Here’s the opening quote with the dots filled in, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” And another, “Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”

It’s quite clear that flavor is the attribute Jesus is suggesting for our “Salt”. And I’m certain that the essence or seasoning we are to provide is love.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.”

That which is perfect is love; that which is perfect is Jesus. We need not operate out of fear or tradition. Love never fails!

This article on Casual Christianity in The Washington Post is interesting. I relate to the “joyful minority” thought near the end.