Thoughts

Jesus Was Abandoned So You Wouldn’t Have To Be

I was reading through Matthew’s coverage of the Crucifixion a few days back. As Christians we tend to focus on the horrendous physical pain, stress and abuse that Jesus endured because of our sin.

What is often overlooked is the consequences of our sin that Jesus saved us from. Death is one of those, but I believe much worse than that was separation from the Father. For a moment before His last breath, Jesus felt abandoned on that cross.

From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. Around midafternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (MSG)

In other translations of the bible, it is also written as, “why have you forsaken me?

What does it mean to forsake someone? I looked up some of the synonyms for forsakeabandon, desert, leave, leave high and dry, turn one’s back on, cast aside.

I believe this moment of separation had to be more painful than the any of the accusations, beating, whipping, and abuse that Jesus suffered at the hands of men.

It reminded me, and added extra weight to God’s promise in Heb 13:5, that He would never leave us, or forsake us. After what Jesus went through on the cross, He does not want us to suffer in the same way.

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross means that we never have to be separated from our God and Father in heaven. Reconciliation is our move to make.

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Change Your Course

999884_10151770223991929_927477560_nI’ve caught a bit of a running bug lately.  So several times a week I’m out sweating along a route in our community as I try to get into shape.

I can see progress – that’s the thing that keeps me going most of all – constant improvement.  While I’m getting fitter and have more stamina, I have goals which are still to be reached.

I’m not loosing motivation – not at all – but I couldn’t help thinking when I was out on a run on Sunday about how I could apply analogies from running to ministry.  Yes, even while listening to Daft Punk simultaneously.

Change Your Route

I can get bored of a route fairly quickly.  I regularly need to expand on my route, or explore a different route altogether.  Here is what I find when I do that:

  • It freshens up my run.  I often have a new lease of energy.
  • It heightens awareness of my surroundings.  I’m more observant.  I learn more about my neighborhood.
  • I find new shortcuts and better terrain.
  • It keeps me challenged and motivated.
  • It may be a different route, but goal, start and end destination are the same.

I couldn’t help but run parallels (pun intended) with ministry.  We can get lethargic or apathetic sometimes in ministry because every time we set out, we keep doing the same thing (and getting the same results).  Maybe it’s time to look at a route change?

We shouldn’t keep doing the same thing just because it’s producing adequate results.  What if there’s a better approach?  Wouldn’t it feel awesome to have renewed vision, awareness, enthusiasm and energy?

Then it’s best to keep moving and adapting, because sooner or later you’ll run the risk of getting bored with the same routine.

So, the next time you’re putting that set list together, planning that sermon, or launching church programs, try something a little different.  Get a little creative with how you reach the end goal.

Support Each Other

I run alone most of the time, but I do enjoy talking to others about running.  Sharing successes and even failures.  Letting others know about things I’m learning and also learning from them.  I have just recently been enjoying a little bit of competition with some friends over Nike+ (my preferred running app).

This is important in ministry too.  We need people alongside us that we can learn from.  We need people who have the ability to push us (motivate and encourage).  We need people who understand our failures and believe and share in our goals.  We need people to call us out when the route we’re taking will not help us achieve those goals.

Keep Running

Let me know if you see any other parallels between running and ministry.  These parallels were drawn when my brain was flowing with endorphins and made perfect sense to me at time of writing.

The important thing is, to keep running toward Jesus – “I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.” – Philippians 3:14

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Thoughts

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Jesus, Matthew 28:18-20

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