Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Releasing the Power of Forgiveness

Right after His resurrection, Jesus "popped" in on the disciples. I like to think of it as a playful moment on His part. In some measure just to leave a lasting impression of what He was about to say to them. John records that Jesus breathed on the group and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."

I have no interest the doctrinal debate that can swirl around the Words of Jesus. Quite frankly, I don't think Jesus had any interest in that sort of debate either. He came to give us Life, not doctrinal statements. He was laying a principle of Life in these pregnant Words. He was daring all of us to search out the Life inherent in this principle.

Receive the Spirit and release forgiveness. To me, this is not about dealing with someone who hurt my feelings which in turn requires me to forgive them. This is about the larger picture of what is loaded into this scene. A recently butchered man is now alive again! He has just passed through a locked door. His body still bears scars and His first Words are, "Peace!", followed by the quote from the previous paragraph. Jesus clearly wants His statement to have a lasting and profound impact!

Here's what I believe that impact should be; get loaded with the reality of the Holy Spirit and then blast the world with spiritual shock waves of forgiveness. Walk through market places and intentionally "oooze" forgiveness, especially when you see someone who is easy to judge by appearances. Aim the devine power of forgiveness at every cultural and politically charged issue that comes across your line of sight. Frankly, I believe that one of the reasons so many people remain so incredibly sinful, by our own definitions, is that too many people who call themselves the people of faith choose to retain sins upon groups we deem either deserving or too guilty of their failures to be helped. We have too rarely given them any other air to breath around us.

The crippled man lowered through the roof in the gospel of Mark had not spoken a word, but Jesus started the conversation by telling him that his sins were forgiven. The woman caught in the act of adultry and brutally dragged to Jesus had not whispered a word of repentance when Jesus just took charge of the situation with the anointing to forgive her. The butchers standing around the cross were likely barely coherent due to their vile task but Jesus spoke to the mountain of their sin and commanded forgiveness upon them.

So, what would Jesus do with the next political petition against a group of people that we get asked to sign? What would Jesus do with the next anybody "caught in the act" and taken to the town square of the evening news? What would Jesus ask us to release with every footstep we take protesting abortion on one side of the politcal spectrum or war on the other?

Let me help you; He would breath on us, command us to be genuinely, radically, ridiculously and uproariously filled with the Holy Spirit so that we could become clouds filled with the water of heaven! Forgiveness, in this context, is an atmosheric shift, an environmental energy and a transcendent domain placed within our charge.

Friday, April 06, 2007

A Culture of Life

The death of Jesus Christ was brutal and vulgar. It demonstrated the worst of human systems gone mad. God allowed all of our most confused, bureaucratic, religious stupidity a full and tortured expression on the Body of Jesus. Every human system participated and Satan kicked back at the end of the day, looked up at heaven and asked, "Hey, God! What do You think of Your creation now? Still think its 'good'?"

God answered three days later. With the physical resurrection of Jesus God has forever stated, "What I have made IS GOOD. Creation was kissed in the beginning and now it has been twice kissed."

Some elements of Christianity today are obsessed with original sin and total depravity. They are fond of announcing that we are born in sin. The follow up to that is the mantra, "We are just sinners saved by grace." My response is, "Alright, already. We get it. But what about resurrection. Aren't we born AGAIN? This time, born again RIGHT and righteous?" At some point we have to start being the New Creation!

I love the cross and its message, but the cross is not God's final statement. LIFE is God's final statement! And since it is, the implications are off the charts for what we have been called to be and to do. Jesus said, "The thief has come to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that you might have life and that with flourish, dynamic and complete animation!" The church is called to be a culture of life. Not a parenthesis holding cell awaiting life after death.

We are a culture of life filled with belly laughs, loud glorious singing, expansive divine curiosity, entrepreneurial inventiveness and a passionate exploration of the Life and Character of God that might challenge safe theological boxes. The vacated grave of Jesus is the genius of God which calls every hungry heart to reject death in all of its expressions. Somebody, somewhere is going to leap into this culture of Life and live it for all its worth, someday. I believe this is my destiny, will you join me?