Nothing But the Blood

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“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7, NIV

I’ve been taught that the Old Testament is a collection of extremely bloody books. So many sacrifices were made that the Levitical priesthood had to sacrifice lambs 24 hours a day. People had this desperate need to cover their sins with an offering. This was instilled in them by the Law and their conscience.

Today, not so much. The Jewish people no longer sacrifice lambs, and the Gentiles have never caught on anyway. But sin has never gone out-of-style. Perhaps this is a result of the New Testament teaching that Jesus (the God/man) offered His blood as the payment of every sin committed. His death wiped our slates clean, forever.

Yet, we are still a people of ‘limited options.’ As our sins mount up (and they will) we have an innate need to cover them up. Sin is almost never hidden, and never exalted as a virtue. And yet we try to skate though our accumulation of many sins. We forget many, and try to excuse the more heinous.

The New Testament is obvious on this. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ had enough sufficiency to cover everyone, once, and for everything. It all seems astonishing, beyond belief and possibility. The blood it seems, has never lost its power. This may be why Christians can’t seem to ‘shut-up’ about their faith. They ‘see’ something!

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus.”

Hebrews 10:19

Simply put, you now have ‘backstage passes,’ because of His death. The cross is far, far beyond a nice religious medallion. The cross of Christ, and more precisely His ‘leaking’ blood is regarded as complete righteousness for anyone (who by faith) receives it as his/her own. A brand-new confidence takes hold. “God loves me, and He forgives me.” The heart expands at this new-found knowledge.

Our sins and our weaknesses, whether they be from our fallenness, or genetic or environmental, are now slathered in the blood of Jesus. That blood makes us ‘white as snow.’ ‘Brokenbelievers’ everywhere are cheering. We know we aren’t quite right, and we understand our sin, but we have become fans of Jesus Christ. After all, His death has brought us eternal life.

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Picking Out a Kitten

cute-kittensOne of the highlights in a child’s life is choosing a kitten, it will rank up there with many other memories. It’s often the first big decision they will make on their own.

The child will be introduced to a litter, and then be encouraged to choose. And typically there will be some hard picks, but often it comes down, not to the most playful and adorable, but the kitten in some way different from the rest. 

Often the kitten chosen will not be the prettiest or liveliest of the bunch. It maybe lame or “weak” in some way. However once that child embraces that kitten, the bond is irrevocable. We could insist they make a better choice– thrusting another kitten at them, but ultimately it’s their choice. We shake our heads, acquiescent to our child’s choice.

The bonding is surprisingly quick and strong. They’ve made their pick, and they won’t be persuaded to take another. The parent must be content that things will work out somehow. They have decided. 

“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”

! Thessalonians 1:4, ESV

To be chosen is the highest privilege and honor there is.We may not be the best or the brightest but God has selected us to be his very own.

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

1 Corinthians 1:26, 28-29

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A little rough around the edges

We might be mangy,  flea-bitten. Many are deeply dysfunctional and profoundly flawed. Often we are the misfits and the loser. Yet he has chosen us to be his very own. He loves us not because we are special; but he makes us special because he loves us. 

Someone once said that if God had a refrigerator that your picture would be on it.

Beloved, this kind of love is good news for most of us. We are not chosen because we are pretty or talented, you see we are not vital to the kingdom. Rather we’re chosen because he wants us.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!”

1 John 3:1, NLT

You are God’s choice. Now the trick is to learn about walking as it. Prayer, worship and fellowship with the many others who are also chosen will bring you understanding. The Holy Spirit will show you how.

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What Are the Treasures of the Church?

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An Archbishop was given an ultimatum by the Huns who surrounded his cathedral. “You have 24 hours to bring your wealth to these steps”, the war-leader declared. The next morning the Archbishop came out leading the poor, the blind, the lame, and the lunatics. “Where is your treasure? Why have you brought out these, people?” The Archbishop said this, “These are the treasures of the Church— these who are weak are our valuables. They make us rich.”

As Christians often our theology tells us that mental illness: ADHD,  depression, and bipolar disorder have no place in the believer’s life. Physical illnesses like fibromyalgia, migraines, diabetes and epilepsy are denied. So we hide, sneaking into our sessions with our therapists, and our doctors appointments. We change the subject to minimize our exposure to direct questions. The pressure to hide is very strong.

But I would suggest to you that it is perhaps we who are closest to the Kingdom of God. It is far easier for us to approach the Father, in our brokenness, humility, and lostness, than whole people can. We have needs; a sound mind, a healthy body and we know it. We have no illusions of wellness, nothing can convince us that we are well. We are not. We are broken and only our loving creator can mend us.

You might say that the Church needs us.

But I am afraid the the Western Church no longer sees its “treasures” like it should. In our pride and self-centeredness we have operated our churches like successful businesses. We value giftedness more than weakness. We definitely have no room for the desperately sick or weak. Maybe it’s time for the Church to begin to act like Jesus?

Church isn’t where you meet. Church isn’t a building. Church is what you do. Church should be a verb.  Church is who you are. Church is the human out working of the person of Jesus Christ. Let’s not go to Church, let’s be the Church.

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