It’s Good Friday, and I have a message for the American church.
All over the world, Christians are celebrating Holy Week, as we wind down and head into Sunday, which caps off the celebration with the celebrated day of our Lord’s resurrection.
Now, whether you call it Resurrection Day or Easter, or whether you believe Jesus actually rose on a Sunday or not is not the issue.
In fact, I wish Christians would stop ripping each other up over the details, when the heart of worship is the only matter of consequence.
Christians, especially American Christians, tend to seek out matters of conflict within the church.
It’s like you have a robe made of the finest gold and you’re quibbling over the color of the thread.
Good Friday is the day of Holy Week that represents Jesus’ trek up Calvary, carrying an old rugged cross on a back that was ripped and bruised and bloodied by the Romans.
The beatings and suffering he endured, the death on the cross, was brutal. It was beyond anything we could imagine in our modern view of torture.
The Bible describes his beating as being so much so that his face barely resembled a face.
He was wounded, despised, bearing the full wrath of God, not because he deserved it.
He did it, because the price for sin was blood, but it was a price too great for us to pay.
Our Father in Heaven knew we couldn’t take what we deserved, so He made a way, and the ransom for our souls was paid in full on that day.
Good Friday (or whatever the actual day was) was the day that sin lost its grip on humanity. God had spent out His wrath on the body of a willing, perfect sacrifice.
Jesus was laid in the tomb that day, then in 3 days, as he’d promised, he rose.
And as he rose from death, we can say he bridged the divide between the grave and everlasting life for those who accept him and just believe.
So beautiful and perfect was the sacrifice.
So loving, the God Who made a way.
I become so emotional, whenever I spend time thinking of what was done for me, the most wretched, sinful, imperfect of people.
It’s even more awe-inspiring, when I think of this reality: I’m not a number in the halls of Heaven. I’m not just another name in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
When my Jesus was suffering so greatly, bleeding out his last drop of blood, I know he was thinking of me, and my God knows me.
He knows Susan. Every detail. Every fear. Every failure. Every breath I take, He knows.
And every sin was washed away at Calvary, long before I was ever born, or ever sinned my first sin.
A perfect man died for ME, even in my imperfection, because my God loved me beyond any humanly measure of love.
I am AMAZED, my friends. I am SO loved. You are SO loved.
And I’m absolutely heartbroken for my nation.
I wrote a piece today about the Johnson Amendment, and gave my thoughts about why doing away with it is no great gift to the Church.
The only benefit it allows the Church is that if a politician wants to use the church as a campaign post, preaching his policy from the pulpit, rather than the Word of God from the pulpit, then that can happen and the IRS can’t strip away the tax-exempt status of the church.
In my view, that’s no benefit.
I brought up the story of Jesus running the money changers from the temple. He was outraged that the priests had allowed the House of God to be used as a market place.
How much more would he be upset if the House of God became political, over spiritual and reverent?
I have wept for the American church, especially during this past election.
We have a president that thinks worship means Christians are allowed to use their church time as campaign time.
We have Christians that would argue that we should be able to do that.
Where is the zeal for our Father’s house? Where is the reverence for the godly over the worldly?
I can’t help but think of those Christian men lined up on the shores of some beach in the Middle East, all dressed in prison orange, while their ISIS captors stood behind them with their blades.
Their only “crime” was to be followers of Christ.
I think of the soft and entitled American Christian, and I wonder how many of those who are cheering the idea of having the Johnson Amendment repealed would be like those men whose blood stained the waves of the ocean red that day, were they faced with the same situation?
Would I be so bold?
It breaks my heart, because I don’t know, but I pray that if that time ever comes, that before the blade falls, with my last breath, just as it is reported with those men, I could cry out, “Jesus!”
We have had it easy here. We have no actual challenges to our ability to worship or not worship.
We are blessed with that freedom, and yet, we would turn our praise over to men.
My message to the American church is in the prophecy of Revelation 3:15-17, as the angel spoke to the Church in Laodicea:
“ I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”
We have so much to be thankful for, and are so blessed, but we have not known true suffering, so we place value in the wrong things.
As you move into this weekend, and to your Resurrection Day celebration, try to focus on why we have this celebration, and just how much value was placed on your life, in order to save you.
Then think about Who made it possible.
It was not a politician.