Sunday, April 6, 2014

From Prison To Paradise

The season of Lent is a time for self-examination, repentance. It is not a time to feel guilty but to come to our senses and see our spiritual blindness, understand our spiritual deafness and feel our spiritual deadness. It is a time to reflect on our journey home to our Heavenly Father. Our love for Jesus may drive us to our knees but it is our cross that will bring us down to our face to become totally humble, repentant and dependent on God.

We try too hard to be Christians. We can become an irritant to others or even shoot our fellow Christians who are hurting instead of helping them. We become Job comforters trying to save others instead of leading them to Jesus Christ as their Saviour. We try to carry our own cross instead of crying out to God for help to carry our cross.

The crosses we face in our daily lives are not to punish us but to train us and to draw us to an even closer intimate relationship with God as our Heavenly Father. On the other hand, we can become enemies of the cross when we fail to understand what it means to deny ourselves or to die to self. We forget that we are soldiers of the Cross but the battle is not ours but the Lord’s. We are called to be followers of Christ and not to be masters of our destiny.

We are on an exciting journey to live in heaven in the here and now. A young doctor who was dying described dying as the greatest adventure of his life. We need to encourage one another to see old age as the greatest and final adventure of our lives.

Autumn is a very beautiful season and winter is a season of wonder when we see God colour everything beautifully white in a snowfall.  When we face losses in life, we are in the autumn of life. When we become dependent and our lives become enveloped with the snow of a terminal illness and we become dependent and bedbound, we are in the winter of life.

In such times, we have a choice – to see our lives as half empty or half full. We can try desperately to live as mini kings in our kingdom of one or we can ask God to deliver us from our prison of self and bring us into His kingdom of Heaven so that we can live in paradise in the here and now.

Heaven and hell are not just places we go after we die. It is a condition of our lives in the here and now. C.S. Lewis made the point that “hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others.” He reminds us that “it is not a question of God ‘sending us’ to hell - in each of us there is something growing, which will be hell unless it is nipped in the bud.”

We are all addicted to the desire to have control over our lives, over others and our world. We forget that God's ways and not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  We have been brainwashed into trying to please God through our actions instead of cultivating an intimate and loving relationship with Him. It is our image of God that is distorted and in need of change.. The gospel is that Christ came and died on the cross to draw us back to our true identity as the children of God.

The gospel of Christ is the timeless truth in truthless times – that God loves us and sent His only Son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross so that we can be fully human and to enjoy an intimate relationship with God as our Heavenly Father in the here and now. In order to do so, we need to be Christ centered and to be Christ centered,  the Cross of Christ must be the centre of our lives.

The primary struggle of human beings is not about finding a purpose in life but reclaiming their identity as children or God. It is seeking to return to paradise and being at home with our Heavenly Father from the prison of our egos. There is a spiritual battle between the kingdom of self and the Kingdom of Heaven deep within our hearts. The good news is that the battle belongs to the Lord. The bad news is that we keep trying to fight the battle in our own strength. Our focus is on the tiny picture of our lives instead of seeing life from the big picture of God’s love for us and the world.

During this season of Lent, let us examine how we are living out the tiny picture of our lives instead of the big picture of God’s amazing love for us.

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