Going through college, I saw a lot of stuff. I saw people’s self-indulgence hurt the people around them. I saw people’s self-indulgence hurt themselves. I hurt other people with my selfishness. I hurt myself with my own desires.
I also saw ministry change people’s lives. But more often than not, I saw people turn away from it. People made more excuses than anything else. It took me a long time not to blame myself for not addressing our culture, not building relationships, destroying relationships I had, and for other people’s mistakes. I look back on my failures often with pain and regret.
There is no amount of apology or good deeds to change any of that. But God did not call us to take blame, to feel shame, and to live in fear of making mistakes twice. God did not call us to dwell on the failures of others and the failures surrounding our own lives. God called us to GO into the world, knowing this would happen. God walked this world with grief just as we will. Just as I do.
I am overwhelmed by grief regularly. Pain is a common feeling. There is much in this world to be saddened by. I believe we are designed to feel this.
In Matthew 26, Jesus says “You will all be offended and stumble and fall away because of Me this night [distrusting and deserting Me], for it is written, I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” Jesus here is saying that because of Him, His followers will scatter! Not only does it happen, but He knew it would happen, and He has to live with that! Jesus has to carry the grief of that. But He goes through with His death as a sacrifice, knowing how the story ends.
In worship, we sing so often about our love for God, how He has given us life, brought us through our struggles and and how awesome He is. All these things are worthy of rejoicing over. But we walk a dangerous line only singing or desiring these things. There is much to rejoice about, but the work of the Kingdom of God is not finished until God says it is.
If I desire to be like Jesus, then I will desire to be a man of sorrows, despised, rejected of men, and acquainted with grief. I googled grief and Jesus, and most of the results were from Christian sites about how to get through grief. We are afraid of it. We want only the happy things God provides. We sing about the easy things, audacious as they sometimes are. One of my prayers for the church today is that we would live with grief as part of how God looks at the world; as a part of love. Leaders of the church should be acquainted with grief in order to lead the church to love. I will grieve for the lost, because I love them, as God has called me to. And I will sing of my sorrow because my soul feels it just as deeply as the joy of being loved by God. We know how the story ends just like Jesus did…so we have the hope required to carry grief as Jesus did and to love people through their self-indulgence, betrayal, and failures. For we have been crucified with Christ, so it is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives within me…