The Greatest Love Story Ever Told
As I have grown up in the church I really feel like I have been indoctrinated with a mindset that was never intended to be taught. I do not think I can attribute this understanding to the teachings of my home churches, but was a result of me personally being formed by my own misconceptions of the religion I claimed to practice. The misconception I speak of largely deals with how I view other people I believe to be more religious or spiritual than myself. For some reason I have convinced myself into believing that those who I deem more spiritual do not really have to struggle with sin or temptations simply because I have placed them on this pedestal of holiness that never should have been built. When I subconsciously place an individual on this throne, I am persuaded by a false doctrine into believing that the person sitting on the throne is not capable of making the same mistakes or sins I myself have made.
While this does encourage me to live a righteous life in my continual setting apart as a son of God, the pillars that uphold the pedestal are obliterated when I hear of the sins of those I have given this position of power and influence, a role they were never intended to fill. Due to my false beliefs, I place expectations on individuals that are not possible to fulfill. Much like the Mosaic Law, I place a burden on people they are never able to carry nor were they ever meant to carry.
One of the aspects of my faith that I have spent a considerable amount of time studying and praying about is the reality of sin and the true weight it bears on each and every one of us. As Easter and Good Friday have just passed, I am contemplative of the final days of Christ's earthly life and how truly significant and vital they are to the Christian faith.
While I was flicking through the Instagram app today I saw a picture that had been posted by one of the metal vocalists I really enjoy listening to. The picture was divided into two sections down the middle displaying two very different images on each side. The side on the left displayed a crown of thorns, speckled with blood, over a very bleak and dismal background. The latter showed a golden crown, illuminated and glowing, adorned with precious diamonds. Beneath the picture the caption read,
A lot can happen in just three days.
I have grown accustomed to seeing all those pictures on Facebook that read "LiKe FoR hEaVeN, iGnOrE fOr HELL!" displaying a picture of Jesus and the Devil arm-wrestling with an arena of angels and demons surrounding them or some other really stupid picture along those lines. So when I saw this picture on Instagram I didn't really think too much about it other than the thought that I should probably unfollow the guy that posted the picture. But I exited from the app and my day went on.
While reading in my Bible today, the plan I follow had me going through the seventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews. As I was reading along I began to take notice of a few verses near the end of the chapter. Verses 23-28 read:
"The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever."
I have not spent a considerable amount of time in the book of Hebrews but every time I read it, it always seems to answer clearly the questions posed by my mind and heart.
In thinking about the past sins I have committed and the temptations that to this day still plague me, I read in Hebrews 7:25 that because of Christ, I am able to draw near to God the Father because Jesus has gone before me on my behalf. I am no longer seen in the eyes of God in terms of my filthy rags of unrighteousness but in the spotless robe of Christ's righteousness. When I begin to deceive myself into thinking that I am able to do everything on my own and that I really am good enough on my own, I am reminded of how holy, righteous, and perfect my Lord is in 7:26 where the author of Hebrews calls Jesus "innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens."
Was the Kasey before Christ ever innocent? Unstained? Separated from sinners? Exalted above the heavens?
That man never existed.
There was never a pure, set-apart, righteous, or exalted man before Christ came into focus, nor will that man ever exist apart from Him.
But as Hebrews 7 says, in sacrificing His own life, Jesus paid the debt. And His sacrifice was not one that needed to be made daily as the high priests of Israel once did in the tabernacle and the temple. Jesus died one time, for all sinners, for all broken people, for all rebels, for all thieves, for all murderers, for all liars, for all immoral, for all prideful, for all people. If you are breathing, Jesus laid down His life for you so that you may have the opportunity to not live a life separated from God for eternity but instead may live forever in the presence and glory of Almighty God.
The next time you begin to feel the weight and burden of your sin understand that Christ can take the load you bear from your shoulders as He promised He would. Lay your sins at the foot of the cross and commit it to Jesus as He is the only One that can really do anything about it. We are not meant to do this life on our own even though it may feel like we should do so as a means of guarding our hearts or protecting ourselves from unwanted difficulties and misguided expectations.
In the cross of Christ we see love personified. In His burial we see the reality of our sin, the fruits of our sin leading to death. In His resurrection we see hope, promises fulfilled, lives changed.
Death. Burial. Resurrection.
The greatest love story ever told.