Pastor Mark’s Devotions, June 23

“One Life Matters”

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:2

 

Do black lives matter? Yes! Do blue lives matter? Yes! What about brown lives, yellow lives, and red lives? Yes, they all matter. So do Muslim lives, Mormon lives and Mystical New Age lives. They all matter!

Sunday afternoon, after church, on Father’s Day, I went on my familiar Thunder Ridge walk. As often happens, after around 45 minutes, after climbing all the hills, and I’m returning home, an epiphany will suddenly shoot into mind. Most often, these epiphanies relate to my upcoming sermon. On this particular Sunday, I was still feeling the spillover of the Holy Spirit that generated great freedom during the morning Drive In Worship (that’s why I spoke so long!) My earbuds were in. I was worshipping as I walked but my mind was also mulling over all media coverage regarding the pandemic and the protests. All the coverage, conditions and concerns regarding “Chop” in Seattle has brought these issues even closer to home. I’ve been reading, listening and trying to learn more about race issues that have been at work for a long time in our society. One of the big problems I have found in this process, is that I do not know, what I do not know. Many times, it feels like I’m trying to track down a moving target. It’s as if I’m flying an old airplane with a center stick while having a damaged wing. I’m trying to hold her steady so I can bring her in for a landing, but that joystick is being thrust in all different directions that I cannot control.

I have also felt at times, “lost in the fray.” Fray, by definition, means to “unravel or become worn at the edge, typically through constant rubbing.” It can also mean, “to show the effects of strain – of a person’s nerves or temper.” How often have you felt lost in the fray during these last three months? I’m sure we all have felt worn at the edges emotionally over all past weeks.  

As I walked and was considering the implications of “black lives” and “blue lives” and all the other lives that are being impacted during this period of time, suddenly three words shot into my mind. In an instant, I felt the joystick in my mind stop moving. I felt a rudder and a grounding to my thinking. I felt one commanding message, “One Life Matters!” Suddenly, it was as if all the individual pictures flashed through my mind in an instant and all my confusion cleared out. I had clarity. Ultimately, it is this One life of Jesus Christ that matters. When those three words were brought to my attention, it was not to diminish black lives nor be less aware of blue lives nor any other lives. Actually, focusing upon the One Life that Matters, brought greater value and emphasis upon each of these lives. This one life of Jesus Christ, if we are his followers, brings us the purpose, meaning, and focus for how we are to live, act and respond. As Christ followers, our own human attitudes, perspectives and desires are to fall away. As Christians, we are to live in him, through him and with him. The question is, how does this One Life influence–better yet, transform our life and the lives of those around us? The goal of this One Life is to bring a conversion such that our lives are lived through him. In the end, ultimately all lives will disappear and only One Life will matter. In the meantime, because only One Life matters, Jesus Christ brings meaning and hope to every life- – especially those who are broken and downtrodden.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to find a maneuver that would allow me to fly above the fray. I was hoping to get above the fog and gain greater clarity and perspective of the landscape. Indeed, those three words, “One Life Matters” brought me up out of the clouds. But then something striking took place. Because of that clarity, it brought me back down to the reality that this One Life calls me to fly back into the fray and fog. This One Life calls me to declare and deliver the truth that no matter what line is drawn in the street, One Life matters for All and every Individual! And that this One Life lives among those in the fray as friend.

I am assuming that most of us are basically battling this same kind of turbulence. Being that we can distance ourselves from the fray, in many ways, by simply turning off the television, social media, or radio, it is difficult to stay tuned in. My emotions have moved from feeling, “lost in the fray” to wanting to “fly above the fray” to “fleeing from the fray” to simply being “fatigued by the fray.” But if we stay focused upon the “One Life That Matters,” we will be able to enter into the fray. We will even be able to move through the fray, and even be agents of healing in the midst of the fray because we know that it’s that One Life That Matters!

The writer of Hebrews gives the exhortation, “Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Consider the One Life that matters. Jesus entered the fray of humanity in all fullness. He endured the cross, took on our shame, and brought victory back to heaven. He willingly entered the unraveling and rub of humanity in innocence as a baby in Bethlehem (Luke 2). He entered into Samaria and encouraged a broken woman at the well with truth. (John 4). He entered Jericho and called an oppressive tax collector named Zacchaeus to conversion which brought about correction and justice. (Luke 19). He entered into conversation with a mob about to carry out the death penalty with an adultress with clarity and conviction. (John 8) He entered the sin of that same adultress woman with grace and forgiveness. (John 8) He entered countless towns and villages meeting the broken hearted with compassion and healing. (Matthew 9) He entered Jerusalem with resolve and in submission to his Father’s will as he faced his cross. (Luke 19) He entered the arrogance of the religious leaders and called them white washed tombs, calling a spade, a spade. (Matthew 23) He entered a garden and met a weeping woman with the reality of the resurrection. (John 20). He entered into heaven in glory, with the name above every name. (Luke 24) He entered darkness with light. He entered death with life. And he also entered his own hometown of Nazareth as he began his public move amidst the fray. While he was with his own people, he painted a picture of the One Life that Matters most. Isaiah, the prophet, had foretold of this One Servant, 700 years earlier. Jesus entered and attached himself to this One Chosen Servant of God:

               “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18)

Consider this One Life that matters. His attention was set upon the poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed. He entered this life to provide all these people with a lifeline. And let us be clear that all these people, the ones who are poor, blind, and oppressed prisoners that he has his eye upon – we are those poor, blind prisoners! And because of the grace given to us, we have found this lifeline. Now, we have been called to let out this One Life Line for any and all who wish to take hold. Whatever streets we march in or convention centers we mask up in, this One Life Line is our mission.

Right now, because of historic and ongoing injustice, black lives have raised their hands and cried out for fair and equal treatment. They will not be the only ones who will call for equality. In this broken world, we are surrounded by injustice. Is this why God spoke to Micah to remind his people, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act with justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

So, how would you imagine that the One Life That Matters most would respond to these cries? Would he feel lost, fly over, or flee from the fray? Or would he, even if fatigued, enter into the pain, brokenness and wounded hearts of the hurting? I believe we all know the answer to that question. As the One Life has met us in our brokenness and brought healing, let us focus upon that One Life and concern ourselves with the brokenness of our brothers and sisters. More than that, let us lead those who are hurting to the One Life that Matters the most! And as we ride the waves into the future, whoever cries out, let us be ready to throw the lifeline of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Do black lives matter? Indeed! Do blue lives matter? Definitely! Do brown, yellow and red lives matter? Without a doubt. Each life matters. But let us be clear – One Life Matters Most! May the Love of this One Life, Jesus Christ, heal the brokenhearted, bring justice for all, and reveal to each of us what we need to know.  

Below, I’m including an 18-minute video produced by Phil Vischer, entitled “Race in America.” Vischer succinctly lays out many reasons why race relations have escalated in our country. You might recognize his voice, he was the producer of the Veggie Tales series. Pastor Annette at Peace Lutheran in Silvana highlighted this informative summary in their newsletter. I mentioned it in my online message of June 21 – but many might have missed it if you attended the Drive in Worship. This video can be a simple way for us to enter into the fray with more conversation and understanding.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGUwcs9qJXY&t=4s

God Bless You All!

Pastor Mark

  

 


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