Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Persecuted for a Purpose

As Easter draws near, we can reflect on the persecution, torment, torture and death of Christ as a good thing, only because we know it was for a purpose. It would be quite a sad story if Christ suffered for not. Christ was persecuted for a purpose – there was an outcome which could only be fulfilled through the struggle and suffering – The shedding of His blood and His death for the atonement of our sins. Had Christ not been persecuted, had he not suffered, died and rose again, then we would have no hope! No Future! Christ was persecuted for this purpose.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:6-8

Jesus set aside his titles and emptied himself. He become like us, so that we could become like Him.  He came with a purpose, to cut us free from the eternal penalty of our sins. He took upon Himself our punishment, so that return we could gain His righteousness. He was hung on a cross and pierced for us. He essentially traded places with us.  As he was whipped, as he walked his bloody body to the place he would be crucified, as he hung there on the cross, I believe it was our face that He pictured. We are the reason He endured it all. This is the totality of what we mean when we say we have a personal relationship with Christ. Christ allowed himself to be persecuted, because for Him, it was personal. He would rather die for us – than live without us! His death paid the penalty for our sins. When we ask His forgiveness, His sacrifice washes away the sins of our past and makes us new again!

"It wasn't so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn't know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It's a wonder God didn't lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.  Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving." Ephesians 2:1-9

Jesus’ mission did not end at death; He overcame the grave, overcame death and rose again. Just as He was risen, we will also rise to be with Him. It is a message of hope, because as we go through our own struggles, we see through Christ’s example of suffering that on the other side of persecution is victory! That when we press on, and press into God we will rise above, we will overcome – we will be transformed – we will fulfill God’s purpose for our lives and then when our earthly existence has come to an end, we will be united with our heavenly Father, our creator for all eternity.

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