Whether through our deep theological conversations or because of an innocent lack of exposure, we can easily miss the simplicity of the gospel. It is easy in this highly educated suburban culture to complicate things just to appear more knowledgable. Whether we are needing to hear this simple gift ourselves today or we know someone who does, let’s reflect on the story of hope given through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Regardless of the pictures we paint of ourselves we are all really the same in our struggles. We search for happiness and pleasure and that search not only leaves us frustrated, but it also leaves us with scars. We can call it ‘purpose’ or ‘happiness’ or just ‘our place in this world’ but it is essentially all the same pursuit. We all have stories to tell that speak of that pursuit in our lives and the emptiness with which they left us. It can feel very hopeless and to some degree it really is just that, hopeless.
The attempted remedies of this search in our lives is what the church often calls ‘sin.’ The reason it is called that is due to the fact that we are searching for joy outside of the God who created us. Sin brings an emotion of hopelessness and frustration and ultimately entrapment because regardless of how many different remedies we try to pursue, we will hit the proverbial brick wall in despair.
These truths are why our Creator chose to put his love on display for us through sending his Son to die on the cross. The only thing that would carry us from our cycle of hopeless pursuits to experiencing the joys of a relationship with the greatest Father of all time was death. It had to be death because we needed reconciliation. In our cycle of sin we deserved punishment… every one of us… we have all lived lives full of bad choices. If the Creator was going to maintain his place as a God who is a God of justice, then someone had to receive the punishment our choices deserved.
Here we find the story of Jesus. God sent his Son who deserved no punishment and was not guilty of this sin cycle to come, live, teach, and die. Jesus’ death on the cross was the act which brought hope to our hopeless pursuits of joy and never being able to find it. The message of his death and his resurrection is that we, because of God’s love for us, can find joy from the source of joy itself, God. The door has been opened for us providing the way in which we can find that purpose for which our entire lives have been marked with searching.
He makes the invitation to us… freedom from that sin which entangles us… hope amidst the hopelessness we feel… and true purpose which brings us joy and reason through both the greatest and the most difficult moments of our lives. And, contrary to everything else in our culture today, he tells us that we can’t ready ourselves or get all of our ‘ducks in a row’ for him. We simply believe that Jesus is Lord of all in our life and all that surrounds our life, and we believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, giving us the opportunity to spend eternity with him (rather than separated from him).
Possibly the greatest news of all is that we get to grow in a relationship with him and experience the greatness of seeing our life transformed by him. Jesus transforms our relationships, marriages, careers, hearts and minds. Through the journey of this transformation we find the greatest joy imaginable and that is the joy of knowing intimately the One who created us in love with great purpose. He knows we cannot make this journey alone so he gave his church as a community of people to teach us, love us, and support us throughout our journeys.
I pray that this simple story of hope and reconciliation opens your eyes to the joy of knowing Jesus Christ today. Maybe for others it is the little nudge to share this simple story with another person who feels hopelessly trapped in their search for ultimate joy and needs to hear about the love of Jesus Christ.