Today we celebrate what changes everything! Sin and suffering recieved an end date when Jesus rose. Reconciling with God- permanently is now possible. And, most of all, a sure and future hope awaits…He’ll be back!
The name Good Friday seems weird to me. It does not quite fit. As I reflect on the death of Jesus, I wish I could rename it. Good Friday does not capture the full essence of the day.
The Good is not good
That Jesus had to suffer the absolute greatest injustice of all doesn’t fit the word good. Jesus did no wrong. He was the epitome of holiness, both perfect and set apart for God’s Will. It is marked by the rejection of a promised one who would usher in a new era of peace, prosperity, and worship. The rejection, used for the benefit of many, is still a rejection and not good. On top of this, the day is marked by death, an unnatural state that exists because of sin. Again, not good. That a father had to turn his back on a son who did nothing but obey and honor his father’s will is at the heart of sadness. None of this is good.
I know, the adage is that we call it good because Jesus died and paid the penalty for our sin. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t cut it for me.
The Good is an infinite understatement
Any sporting event we watch where a person does the impossible, we don’t say “It was a good game.” Good does not capture the incredible essence of what was done. Jesus demonstrated the impossible. He demonstrated perfect humility. He demonstrated the very essence of sacrifice both in a religious sense and love. Jesus, in utter agony, lead a person to heaven, took care of his mother, friends and enemies, and honored the Father who turned His back. On top of all this, Jesus did not abolish the sin of the present, or the past, but all eternity! He started the countdown to making sin only a somber historical concept and not a current struggle. To merely call this good seems shameful.
We need a new name
What Jesus did is the epitome of the commonly used word Epic. What Jesus did was perfect Sacrifice. What Jesus did was THE mark of Grace. What Jesus did was the greatest act of Reconciliation. We for sure need a new name.
If you could rename “Good Friday,” what would you call it?
Relevant, defined by the Oxford American Dictionary, means closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand. If there is ever a battle in any ministry, it is relevancy! The key issue is that to be relevant means to change to match or be appropriate to the matter at hand. You cannot remain relevant and have no change. To keep relevant is to keep changing. Experiences in my life often get me to ponder what exactly the battle for relevancy is.
The battle of relevancy is keeping our mission as the driving force of our ministry.
What too often happens in ministry is that program drives the ministry and not the mission. (For those who like things defined, a program is simply what we do. To have no program is a program in and of itself.) Both the refusal to change (stubbornness) or the fear of being irrelevant (restlessness) are examples of the program driving the ministry. Change for change’s sake is not relevancy any more than maintaining traditions is faithfulness. In both cases the driving force is not the mission.
Relevancy is faithfulness to the mission!
As situations, opportunities, or just plain life occur, so will the need for change. The question that should drive change is: Are we fulfilling our mission to the fullest of our ability? If the mission is what drives the ministry there will be times when a good program must go for a better one. If the mission is what drives the ministry there will be times when everyone else is changing, but we must maintain what we are doing. In the battle of relevancy, we rejoice when the answer is to keep doing what we are doing, and we roll up our sleeves with eagerness when the answer is a call to change. Faithfulness to our mission is demonstrated when we constantly live out our mission in our ministry. Relevancy is lost when the goal is relevancy or when change never happens. In both cases the program drives the ministry: ‘We gotta keep current.’ ‘If it was good enough for Paul.’ Both are ill. But when God gives us a mission, life happens. We ask for the mountains to conquer. And if we see a more effective way of doing things, we celebrate what God did with the former, and we act in faith with the new changes ahead.
Halls of Fame…
The real tradition of a church is God’s Word, and the specific mission that God has called a particular church too. Programs will change if a church is relevant. But, what God’s Word teaches, and the mission God calls a church to should not. It is very easy to begin equating our programs with or as theology. Such is false. Programs serve the the function of living out what God’s Word says and what the church’s mission is. As the meaning of God’s Word is specific, the application is often broad. As we better understand God by studying His Word (theology), it should be readily apparent the need to change ourselves and our churches to match up with who Christ is (application). Churches must never become ‘museums.’ In our communities churches must become ‘halls of fame’ of God’s Grace. For in times past, today and in the future, the church must proclaim the immeasurable greatness of who God is. They must inspire anew those who are seeking to become like Christ while eagerly expecting His return. Halls of fame celebrate and respect the past, while at the same time inspire and build anticipation of what is to come. And, while the actual game changes very little (all analogies break down at some point) how new generations of players engage in the ‘game’ keep it fresh, alive and exciting. God’s Word never changes, nor our mission. But, with a never changing foundation begs the question: What’s next?
This is my redux into blogging. Writing helps sharpen and clarify ideas, generate discussion, and help expand one’s thinking. I find blogging to be a great forum because ideas can be fairly processed, and still “raw” or in their infancy. What I enjoy about blogging is you enjoy the real-time struggle of ideas, or a person’s reflection on them. After being away for a while, I thought it was time to jump back in.
I love books, classes and workshops (oh my). However, the ideas are often much more polished and removed. This is a good thing. Polished presentations are not an enemy. What I find is great works later generate into workshops which then generate books and then generate into classrooms. They are far removed from the start of their “success” or venture, often by years. Who wouldn’t like to be a fly on the wall during early discussions of great works? Blogging allows some insight into this.
I read a quote that many great ideas were lost because they were not written down. Or, perhaps failed and did not have the resources or discussion needed to make them great. The other side of great works is they just pursued something and it happened. Success is based on two things: God and community (1 Cor. 12, Eph. 4). The advantage now of social media is the expansion of leveraging community. I am not saying I have great ideas, or even good ones for that matter. Many have heard the cliche the journey is more important then the destination. That’s the intent of this blog. It’s my journey for better or worse.
“Why Not Wednesdays’ deals with creativity and off the wall ideas. It’s the drawing board, or better said the napkin. The ideas may not work, barely work, or are just out there. They can be as little as a game idea, or as big as a new methodology. Living out what we believe should encourage us to take risks, fail often, and be pleasantly surprised when God crabs a hold of something and lets it work. That is another aspect of ‘Why Not Wednesday;’ If it aint broke, break it!
The bottom line:
I’m blogging to sharpen my ideas and writing ability. I will be discussing things I’m passionate about: learning, dreams, and living out what I believe. I thought it would be appropriate to start posting on Wednesday, as that is the day I’ll deal with the dreaming and creativity aspect of life and ministry.