Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Earn Your Downhill - IT'S HARD WORK

Click the picture to watch 1 min. mountain bike video

If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.
- 1 John 4:20

Many of the mountain bike trails in the Fraser Valley of Colorado are smooth and tacky for the most part. Occasionally a ride will be interrupted by roots or a steep hairpin turn. I’m thankful. I wonder if I would have made it if my first attempt to peddle to the top of the ski area included a lot of technical sections.

God does not allow us to face temptations or trials that are more than we are capable of resisting (1 Corinthians ). If you are like me, the first thoughts that come to mind with regard to temptation are power, vanity, greed or lust. But, consider Jesus in the midst of doing good was rejected, criticized, slandered, lied to, misunderstood, plotted against, betrayed, denied, and abused by friends, his disciples, the Jewish leaders, and the Romans; YET, He did not react with sin.

Now those sound like temptations to me and resemble what we might encounter on the mountain bike trail. Do you see yourself in any of these?

·   Roots: Similar to being rejected. Sometimes I peddle with every ounce of skill and courage I can muster only to slide off the slippery root anyway. I blame my “lack of” (fill in the blank). Self-condemnation and despair fills my heart and mind rather than recognizing the root of the problem is not with me. I am no longer an orphan but an heir and sit at the King’s banquet table.  

·   Loose Rocks on an uphill climb: Similar to being criticized. Every peddle stroke gives way to the rear tire slipping. No matter how much effort I put forth I don’t make any positive progress toward the top. Critical words defeat me. I am to give authority to God instead of people.  

·   A hairpin turn on an uphill climb: Similar to being slandered. Keeping balance while negotiating a steep turn at slow speeds often forces me to release one foot and put it down. Just as gossip might cause me to take my focus off pushing through and moving forward toward God.

·   Steep uphill. Similar to being sideswiped by theft, abuse, or betrayal. On occasion the trail will surprise me with a sudden steep uphill climb. I’m often in the wrong gear and react with frustration or malice. I can turn around and restart in the correct gear knowing God is in control.

The circumstances Jesus encountered are real temptations for me and you to react. It’s normal to get angry or frustrated but God’s Word tells us to not react in sin (Psalm 4:4). Just keep peddling or if you need to, carry your bike through the interruption as to not give the devil a foothold (Ephesians ).

When we study the character of Jesus, God incarnate, we see love compels Him to react not in anger but in love (Matthew -48). God loves us. He asks us to love His sheep. He loved us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). We love our neighbors while they sin (Matthew ).

“Uggggggh,” this is hard work! It explains why I want to, and so many, live reclusive as individuals, autonomous, and self-serving apart from community and apart from God.

BUT, God commands us to love one another (John ) in covenantal, interdependent, and self-transcending community.  

Remember nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans -39). So in this life, no matter what someone does to us, it doesn’t matter. Our eternal life is secure with no more pain and no more tears (Revelation 21:4).

Our dignity and value does not come from people. It’s ONLY when our deepest needs are met from God can we LOVE those that act in hurtful ways. Jesus is the answer to our loneliness, our insignificance, and our meaninglessness.

So, if you’ve “fallen off your bike” when faced with interruptions on the trail, REJOICE! I say REJOICE! There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).


Anonymous said...

I've never seen even one instance where Jesus' focus was on Himself. He was always about doing His Fathers will. He was continually calling out to, building up and healing those around Him. He even longed for the pharasis to be gathered together under His Fathers wings. When things were the very worst for Him and He was calling out to His Father from the garden, His cry was Thy will be done.

We can NEVER love others when our focus is how we've been hurt, our past life before Christ or what evil someone might have done to us.

What's the common letter in these words? BItter. SIn. Idol. If our focus is I we WILL stay in bondage and never progress up the mountain.

Anonymous said...

I think my last comment may have come across as to harsh. I appologize, that was not intended.

I just wanted to say that Christ was able to love His enemies because of His commitment to the Father and His will (denial of self), and because (as the the author points out) of His relationship with Him.

We have been givin the same tools as believers in Christ. But they are so contrary to our fallen nature that we can only use them by denying ourselves finding our identity in Christ and following Him.