This may come as a little surprise, but I love you. I want more than anything for you to face not only each year, but each day, with profound joy. We’re supposed to be looking forward to the New Year with some kind of Oprah-like optimism, but for some of us it’s proving difficult. It’s unlikely that the angst of life will dissolve with the passing of December 31st; our spirits will no doubt often find themselves underneath the stone wheels of the daily grind.
What concerns me is that many of you are finding any spark of transcendence met with a fire hose of Biblically-anemic teaching.
I believe that if you attend a conservative/right wing/ fundamentalist church, the odds are even that you aren’t familiar with the whole good news about Jesus. Oh, I’m sure you’ve heard about it, but I’m talking about being familiar with something the way a husband is familiar with his wife. I’m talking about Jesus coming back from the dead, and taking us with Him.
If I talked about nothing but Jesus’ death very few eyebrows would be raised, but if I neglected it…? I’d find myself surrounded but hundreds of starchy-collared watchdogs. Not so with the resurrection; I could treat that little event like a circus side-show curiosity and nobody would know the difference. Frankly, it’s becoming annoying; like when I go to bed with a cold and wake up with all those small crusty boogers stuck to my nose hairs, making my eyes water just to touch them!
If you are entering the New Year feeling like a baptismal candidate that’s been held under too long, I have good news for you: Jesus prefers followers who breathe, and He has hatched a plan to make sure we never have to deal with spiritual asthma or asphyxiation.
Following Jesus should never be just about life after death. Jesus’ plan was to provide Life on either side of death, and then to scrub death out of the picture altogether. The prophets of long ago often used water as a metaphor for True Life. If your spirit is dehydrated, listen to this:
“The poor and needy search for water,
but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the LORD will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
and the parched ground into springs.
I will put in the desert
the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
the fir and the cypress together,
so that people may see and know,
may consider and understand,
that the hand of the LORD has done this,
that the Holy One of Israel has created it.”
Isaiah 41:17-20 (NIV)
This could be the year that you start to live again. The view from Jesus’ tomb was profoundly different than the view from the cross; ask God to show you the wonders of His kingdom as seen through the eyes of someone who has just come back from the dead…
… Because that is where He wants to take you.