A long time ago in a place far, far away . . .
We are all familiar with this timeworn opening line from many fairy tale stories. Today we will look at another story—not a fairy tale, but a fact. It started off well, went terribly wrong, and is now in the process of becoming the greatest story ever told.
In the beginning, God created all things, including our first parents, Adam and Eve. They were special and valued above all other created things because they were created in the image of God. God loved our first parents with all His heart and placed them in the Garden of Eden, the paradise He had prepared for them. They were made by God for God, and God was the One who would meet their every need and satisfy their every desire.
Before Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, there were no mixed motives, selfish ambitions, or sinful pride. They lived in a posture of loving God and serving others, and everything they did was done for the glory of the One who sat upon the throne of their lives. Then, in one staggering act of cosmic rebellion, Adam and Eve turned all of creation in on themselves by looking for an identity outside of their relationship with God. They no longer lived for the glory of God, because they were too busy living for their own glory. They demanded that they occupy the throne of their lives, not God. Everything they did was done to meet their own needs, accomplish their own agendas, and satisfy their own preferences. They reduced their existence to a sin-saturated satisfaction of the self, losing all consciousness of God Himself, except for a fearful expectation of judgment.
We are no different; this is the existence we all live before Jesus shows up. The only antidote for a sin-saturated life is the Gospel. Only the Gospel has the power to incapacitate the snare of self-satisfaction and the seduction of sin. Only the Gospel can put Christ back into what has become a Christ-less Christianity for far too many. The Gospel, in all its glory, puts Christ where He belongs: at the center of our very existence, our Savior, Who is both our Source and our Hope.
SOURCE – Every good gift is from the hands of God (James 1:17). Every gift, talent, and ability is rooted in our relationship with Jesus. The source of our opportunities and possibilities is Jesus. We are able to do what we do, not because of our strength, but because of His strength at work in us (Philippians 2:13). When we want more out of life, we should want more of Jesus! We will then invest our time in things that move us further in and further up into our salvation.
HOPE – As Jesus is our Hope (1 Timothy 1:1), nothing in life is hopeless. Jesus brings light to our darkness. Jesus brings peace to our anxiety. Jesus brings order to our chaos. Jesus brings life to our death. When Jesus is our hope, we can trust in His promises and count on His presence. He will meet us in our place of deepest need and bring us to our place of greatest joy.
When Jesus is your Source and Hope, He is at the center of your very existence. This is the place where you live beyond the borders of your goals, your dreams, your desires, your needs, and your preferences. All that you have, you give over for the glory of God and the expansion of His kingdom. Your time is His. Your talent is His. Your treasure is His. At this level of living, personal advancement and self-satisfaction are as far from your center as the east is from the west. Just as Jesus did, you lay down your life and pour yourself out for others.
We need to remember that what rules our hearts shapes our lives. For Jesus, the love of the Father ruled His heart and ultimately shaped His life into the shape of a cross. The vertical love He had for His father spread out horizontally for a multitude of redeemed souls that no man can number. This is the life we have been called to live.
So is Jesus your source and your hope? If He is, you will know it, and so will everyone who comes in contact with you.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!