Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Making America Good Again: Coming to Our Senses

Making America Good Again:  Coming to Our Senses

We know something is missing in our lives.  We attempt to fill the void in our hearts with stuff, busyness and even other people.  We pretend to be self-sufficient.  But we know something just isn't right.  This is part of human nature.

Throughout Jesus' ministry, He told the crowds that He is the missing piece:  

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus' teaching, often through stories, repeated this theme that God, in Jesus, has now come to reconcile us with Himself and fill this empty place in our souls.   My favorite is about the Loving Father and the Wayward Son.  You might know it as the Prodigal Son and it's found in Luke 15.

Like the son in the story, I was the daughter who thought I knew it all and went off to make my own way in life.  But life got hard, and I couldn't handle it on my own.  As in the story, I "came to my senses" and turned back home to God.  And there, God the Father was anxiously awaiting my return, never having given up on me, and welcoming me with open arms.  I cannot describe to you how wonderful my life is now as I walk with Jesus every day.

The Gospel of Matthew describes three parables Jesus told on either the Tuesday or Wednesday of this Holy Week.  And in all of them, the climax of the message is about being reunited with our Heavenly Father. (Matthew 25)

The first is about ten young women waiting for a bridegroom to show up for a wedding.  Five were ready and five were not.  Those who were prepared were welcomed into the wedding banquet and the others were refused entry.

The second is about three servants waiting for their master's return.  Two used the resources the master had given them well.  Their reward was hearing this:  "Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master's happiness!"  The other servant was sent away.

The third is about God's final judgment.  When Jesus returns he will separate all nations and people according to how we treated our fellow man, like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  Those who helped other people doing things like feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing those in need, and visiting the sick and those in prison, will hear Jesus say this:  "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world....whenever you did this to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."  Those who didn't help those in need were "sent away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Do you see a connection between these stories?   God is waiting to welcome us home now and for all eternity.  But He will not welcome those who do not seek Him.  He won't force us.  That choice is ours.

These parables, however, do not tell the whole story.  One more thing has to happen for us to be reconciled with God. Our sin, which is what separates us from God in the first place, must be dealt with.

But for today, let's come to our senses and recognize that the only way to find rest for our restless hearts is to turn to God.  This will go a long way to Making America Good Again.

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