Tag Archives: Mike Glenn

Why Was The Cross Necessary?

I used to ask myself why Jesus had to die such a brutal death. It is hard to imagine a death more cruel than this one. If a death were required in order for humanity to be redeemed, why couldn’t it be more like a lethal injection, or why couldn’t he simply drink hemlock?

I think Christ’s death had to be brutal in order for human beings to take it seriously. After all, Bible could have said, “Jesus fell asleep one Friday afternoon, and he was declared to be dead, so they put his body in a cave. Then on Sunday morning, they discovered it was gone. Christ had risen from the dead.” This story might be the truth, but who would believe it? Who would take it seriously as a sacrifice for all of us? Even if God did not require blood, people do. Plenty of people doubt the death and resurrection of Christ to this day. The story would be even less compelling if the death had been painless and comfortable.

There is more. Christ’s death had to be brutal, because Satan had to be shamed. Satan is, above all things, proud. There would be no way to defeat him with finality without shame. The brutality and inhumanity of Christ’s death was among other things shameful. It was intended by the Romans to be shameful. Humiliating. Cruel. Satan needed to know that God cared for humanity so much that God himself would lovingly endure this shameful death to set people free from Satan’s grip.

And the resurrection? Without the brutality of the death, the resurrection would have meant little. Jesus brought people to life many times during his ministry, but none of those resurrections did anything for humanity. The deaths may have been painful and miserable, but when those people came back to life, Satan simply grinned. When Christ endured the horror of crucifixion and then took up his life again, Satan was done. He still had his freedom to afflict us here in time and space, but that freedom has limits. The world where Satan runs free will come to an end, but Christ’s kingdom has no end. The resurrection promises us that life here and now is changed forever by the resurrection. Those who follow Christ live in time and space, but they live at the intersection where eternity pierces the envelope and redeems creation.

Mike Glenn writes, “In the resurrection Christ brought into reality all the promises God had given to his people.”

What promises is Mike talking about?

Start with Abram in Genesis 21:2-3

I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

The deaf shall hear and the blind shall see Isaiah 29:18

On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a scroll, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.

Nobody needs to go hungry any more 

Isaiah 55:2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry.

God is the God of life

For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel: Seek me and live.

God will never leave us here at the mercy of evil, all alone

To Joshua in Joshua 1:5, I will not fail you or forsake you

To Joseph in a dream foretelling Jesus’ birth Matthew 1:22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”

And many more.

Some people say that Jesus was a great teacher just like other great teachers. However, if he rose from the dead, then he is very different from all the other teachers. He knows things no other teacher knows. If he says we must love our enemies, then we need to listen. A man who suffered on the cross, died and rose again, knows things about both enemies and love that we need to learn. The beautiful thing about the resurrection is that it not only showed us that Christ has power over physical death, but he also has power over “all other forms of death in [our] lives, such as relationships … and opportunities.” Furthermore, “the Risen Christ is not limited by time and space, so he is with us in the present, and he waits for us in the future.”

Some might try to argue that God could have arranged for Christ to die a less brutal death than the crucifixion, and I won’t argue, but I will say that anything less would not get our attention. Human beings are cruel. We don’t like wimps. Jesus was no wimp. He faced death in the most brutal fashion, and then he overcame it. He faced Satan, with love and grace, and then he overcame Satan. From the moment the first nail was hammered into Christ’s body, Satan’s last days were begun. The image of the great dragon lashing his tail and sweeping stars out of the sky in the book of Revelation reminds me of a three-year-old’s tantrum. Satan is much more dangerous and vicious than any toddler, but he felt as impotent as a toddler when Christ faced the brutality of the cross, and won. Because he did that, we all can join in that great crowd of people, myriads and myriads of people in the new heaven and the new earth at the wedding feast of the slaughtered lamb, the One who suffered shame, excruciating pain and death in order that we might live with him forever and ever.

Jesus said “Yes” to death in order that he might say “Yes” to life, “Yes” to redemption, “Yes” to transformation. Without the cruel cross and the resurrection, we would all be subject to Satan’s permanent “No.”

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Life, Death, or Other Options

St. Catherine's monastery viewed from Mount Si...
St. Catherine’s monastery viewed from Mount Sinai, Egypt. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the ancient church fathers, Irenaeus, wrote, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” Sadly, many people are not fully alive. They are dead, or near death, or slogging through a wilderness that makes them wish they were dead. Even people of faith live this way if they are still trying to “work out” their salvation by becoming perfect in their own eyes. Mike Glenn’s book The Gospel of Yes is a must read, because it is about becoming fully alive. There is nothing here about becoming rich and famous, so look elsewhere if that is your goal, but if you want to be alive and feel alive, then this book is for you.Of course, this book works, because it is about the Bread of Life, another book you need to read. Mike’s book will point you to the food that nourishes real life, so it would be a good idea to have the Good Book, the Bible, handy as you are reading Mike’s book. You may want to check his premises to see if they are true.Today’s post is the first of a series that will be posted here for the next nine Wednesdays as I join five other writers in Blogging Through the Book. The Wednesday theme of Living on Tilt is “Building Strength and Endurance Through Faith Practices.” The Gospel of Yes offers a great deal of guidance and inspiration for our spiritual maturity, leading us to develop the strength and endurance of our faith. Each of the nine posts growing out of The Gospel of Yes will discuss one or more of Mike’s suggested discussion questions. If you really want to join the conversation, you might want to acquire the book. It is available on Amazon or you may have other favorite book sites. We hope you will visit some of the other blogs for various perspectives on the book, and we all welcome your comments and contributions to the conversation.

In The Gospel of Yes, Mike tells a story about a time when he felt God had let him down, and he demanded that God show up to explain himself. Have you ever felt that way – that God failed you and you jolly well want to know why?

I have never had the intestinal fortitude to do that. When I read Mike’s story, I was dumbfounded by his audacity. I have read Job’s story, and I know that Job did the same thing. Moses and Elijah both came to moments like that. Yet I have to confess that I have never thought that God let me down, because I have been very sure on any and all occasions that I was the one who let God down.

Are you like me? Do you always think you are doing it wrong? When all is said and done do you always feel as if you were not quite worthy? Or that you were completely unworthy, lower than dirt, a flop, a failure, a smudge on God’s perfect world? I have never ever felt that I could call God to account to me. When I read Mike’s story, even though I thought he had a point about what God might have called him to do and what God might have promised him, I still could not imagine saying to God, “Come on down here and explain yourself.”

Here’s the thing. Mike got into his situation because he listened to God. In fact, he didn’t do it all by himself. A lot of people at the church he served listened to God, too. They called Mike to be their pastor and Mike agreed to do the job, because all of them were listening to God’s guidance. The situation that upset Mike was actually building to a fiery explosion all the time these faithful folk were listening to God. Yet when things fell apart, everyone felt completely flummoxed, and Mike thought it was all up to him. Mike thought he was supposed to be able to fix it. He drove himself frantic, because he could not fix the problem. When he reached the end of his rope, he demanded that God come down and explain why and how this had happened. He sat down to wait for God.

Moses had a moment like this. He had been minding his own business out in the wilderness on what the Bible calls “ the back side of the desert” when God spoke to him from the burning bush. Against his better judgment, Moses obeyed God and brought the Israelites out of Egypt and led them to the “back side of the desert” around Mount Sinai. He went up on the mountain to do what God wanted him to do, and while he was there, his own brother, the one God thought could be a spokesman for Moses, led everyone to worship a golden calf. When Moses came down from his glorious meeting with God, the whole camp was engaged in a completely ungodly orgy in worship of the calf.

Moses could not imagine how God had let this thing happen. Moses doubted that God ever called him or wanted him to lead the people. Moses, like Mike, felt that he must have missed all the signs that he was on the wrong path doing the wrong work in the wrong place, and Moses wanted God to prove himself.

Elijah felt the same way. He had faced down the prophets of Baal on top of Mount Carmel and after he showed them how to call down fire to burn his sacrifice to God, he cut them down in a bloody judgment. Then at the height of this triumph, reality slapped him in the face. He knew that King Ahab and Queen Jezebel would throw the might of their empire against him in retribution for this defeat of their god. Instead of continuing to dare them to stand against God, the God who had shown his power so mightily against Baal’s priests, Elijah turned tail and ran. Facing a bunch of silly pagan priests was one thing. Facing the army of a mighty king was quite another. Elijah apparently thought that God might not defend him in that kind of a challenge, so he ran away to hide in a cave. When God asked him what he was doing there, Elijah whined about his situation. God’s response, after showing Elijah that bluster and pyrotechnics are not power, was what some translations call “the sound of sheer silence.”

This is what Mike heard. Sheer silence. For the longest time, nothing but silence. When God finally spoke, it was like a breath of fresh air.

The Gospel of Yes is a breath of fresh air, because just as Mike was ultimately called to be nothing more and nothing less than the person God had created him to be, this book makes it very clear that each of is us called to that same purpose. We don’t need to try to be who we are not. Moses did not need to try to be the arbiter of Aaron’s character flaws. Elijah did not need to fret because he could not control Jezebel. Mike needed to relax about the consequences of somebody else’s bad choices. You and I need to stop comparing ourselves to other people who are popular or rich or powerful. We need to get over our inability to fix every little thing. Instead, each of us needs to listen when God’s voice pierces the sheer silence and leads us to the perfect fulfillment of his purpose in creating us. We need to relax and let God bring us alive, fully alive.

 

Be watching here next Wednesday for more about The Gospel of Yes.

 

The Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not “Yes and No”; but in him it is always “Yes.” For in him every one of God’s promises is a “Yes.”  2 Corinthians 1:19-120

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Blogging Through the Book is a group of bloggers who literally blog while reading the book. It’s different than merely reading a book and posting a review. We have a chance to read and share our thoughts in community. Click HERE to learn more or visit http://www.danapittman.com/blogging-through-the-book-focus-on-yes/.