Friday, July 10, 2009

The Stench of The World and The Aroma of Jesus

"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:18-19 ESV).

Sometimes I can go days, weeks without really wrapping myself around my bible--without its words resonating inside my heart. And then, one day out of the blue, I "get" it.

Today is one of these indescribable days.

I listened yesterday to Pastor Mark's sermon over doctrine from true teachers. He talked about Jesus' life and also about the gospels which record His life. He unpacked some historical evidences of how we can know that these accounts are legitimate.

I stopped after listening and tried to actually picture these men, to imagine what it was like for them to be here, to be alive. They spent every day with Jesus. They ate with Him, they listened to every word He spoke, they traveled with Him, they laughed with Him...they did life with Jesus Christ. Sometimes that thought just reaches out and grabs me, and today I'm letting it.

Reading Jesus' words to these men in John's gospel brought me to tears today. I'm thinking of the series our church is working on for August: "The Last Message." My husband just finished a promo video for it, and I watched it again, letting Pastor Shane's words sink in. Our pastors will be giving a message as if it were the very last thing they will ever get to say. Period.

And something hit me: That's what Jesus did with His disciples, His best friends. They weren't quite understanding that He would leave them soon, but Jesus knew. And I read and re-read the words He spoke to them, and I see that they are not "Go party like it's 1999" kind of words. In fact, if you don't know Him, His words might actually seem a little depressing: "The world will hate you"? That's not encouraging. But, there's something really important that Jesus added to that later in chapter 16, verse 33:

"...In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world" (ESV).

The very thing that hates us to the core...JESUS HAS OVERCOME! If that doesn't make us excited, I don't know what will! We literally have nothing to "worry" about.

I'm speaking straight to myself, because the only other person I know who worries more than me is my grandma!

I wish I could remember this all the time, every day before I even get out of bed. Jesus chose us out of the world; we don't belong to it, but to Him! I think I've been living here so long (I know, only 27 years) that I have begun to smell like the world. I become consumed with stuff and tangled in knots of disgusting sin.

Why would I want to smell like something that hates me?

Jesus, Savior, thank You for this love and grace that You have lavished upon me. I need Your forgiveness because I have not cherished Your words, and I have selfishly taken them for granted. I skip over them as if they are drudgery in a dictionary. Teach me to cherish Your words above all others'--especially my own. Restore in my heart a passion to honor You--not the world. Amen.

Peace of Christ to you,
Cara