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About this series
Easter - You Gotta Die
The Counterintuitive Path to Life
When everything around you feels like it’s falling apart, when the chaos and dysfunction you see in the world and - closer to home - in your own life, how do you fix it? In this message, Chip tells us God has an amazing plan but on the face of it, it sounds a little radical. The best part? It’s how you’ll find hope - lasting hope. Don’t miss it!More from this series
Well, as most of you know, Easter is kind of the high day, the pinnacle of Christianity. It’s a message that you’ve heard, you’ve sung, it’s about life, it’s about hope, and it’s about peace. And if there’s ever a time, I don’t know about in your personal life, but in the world that we need life and hope and peace, I would say it’s about now...
I mean, it’s easy to kind of get focused in on your world and my world and my email and my little kind of relationships but the world is a messed up place right now. I mean, we are living in pretty historic days. I mean, did you ever, ever dream that there would be a group of people, a small group, a minority would think that they get an A from the God that they worship by killing people they have never met?
That’s the world that we are currently living in. And we’ve got to get our heads out of the sand to realize if there is a message that is real about life and hope and peace, the world needs it now. But it can’t be just some religious little experience. It’s got to make sense.
And here’s what I wanted to do in our time together, because it’s really important. I grew up in an experience where people had what I called “God talk” and talked about hope and life and peace, but it was like spiritual religious mumbo-jumbo over here.
And then I would go back into the real world and I never saw the correlation and it didn’t seem to make sense in their life. And so, I want to talk today about: how do you really find life and hope and peace in a world that is really messed up?
There was a man many years ago named Frank. And Frank had everything that we would think would bring life and hope and peace. He lived a carefree life, he inherited a great amount of wealth,
His house would be nestled up into the hills, he would have a couple luxury cars, his kids had high SAT scores. I mean, his life would just be amazingly wonderful by all our standards.
And he lived that high life, but he found there was an emptiness about what really brings life and what really gives purpose. And so, he did something crazy.
He heard the Words and the teachings of an itinerant preacher that had lived roughly twelve hundred years before he was born. A man named Jesus. And as he read the words, he thought, This is so radical. But I have got money, I’ve got wealth, success. I’ve got it all. And I am empty inside. So, I am going to take this person. And he follows these Words of Christ in a very literal way and left everything. And he found a small, little band of people who would say, “Will you leave everything with me? Why don’t we try this out as an experiment? Let’s radically love people. Let’s not worry about material stuff. Let’s just go after it.” And they did.
That was almost a thousand years ago. And his little group is still going on. And they live by a motto. It’s a prayer that he wrote. I think his name was Frank when he started off but later when he got to be more famous, people started calling him Francis.
And his prayer and his motto of how to live for life and hope and peace was, “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace; and where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much,” listen to the counterintuitive, “grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive.” That’s counterintuitive. “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
The Franciscans, almost a thousand years later are doing – what? Helping the poor; living out his prayer. You may not agree with all they are doing, but I will tell you what, they have experienced a life that has impacted millions upon millions upon millions of people in the things that money can’t buy.
And as I read that, I thought to myself, Where did he get those crazy ideas? Now, I know he got them from Jesus, but how does it really work?
Secular scholars say that the apostle Paul was probably the greatest mind of the first century. He was from Tarsus. It was a nice town. He was a Roman citizen, which was a big deal. He had wealth. And his life wasn’t making sense. And he tried so hard, so hard, so hard, so hard to be good. And then he encountered the living Christ.
And he realized that he had to die. He needed to stop trying, stop working, stop attempting, stop trying to prove, pose. And he met the living Christ.
And in the midst of a world, and here’s what you’ve got to understand, sometimes we think it’s really, really bad now. You ought to study Church history. I majored in history in college. You ought to study what Rome was like and what it was like to grow up there. You ought to study and look at the culture of what the Greeks taught and there were gods on every corner. And there was an immorality that makes our XXX porn look mild.
The poor had unbelievable injustice. Greed and power ruled. People got crushed. Women had nothing. And in the midst of all that, this brilliant intellect said, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live. Yet not I, but Christ lives inside of me. And now this life that I live day by day in this physical body, I live by faith in the Son of God who gave Himself for me.”
And what he was saying was, listen to that word, “I am crucified with Christ.” He said, “I had to die.” I had to die to my agenda, my selfishness, my greed, my demands. I had to die. And Francis picked that up and he put it in that prayer that he prayed and that prayer that he lived.
The gateway to the deepest relationships, peace that won’t go away, and hope that you can have when you find out someone you love has cancer or when you find out someone you love has hooked up with someone else, begins with a death, because when there is no death, there can’t be resurrection. In one sentence, the apostle Paul, it’s out of his letter to the Galatians, chapter 2, verse 20 says: this is how it works.
Now, here’s what I want to do. I want to step back and ask: how does that really play out?
And so, we’re going to ask four very basic questions. Question number one, well, how did we get here? How did the world get this messed up? There is chaos out there and there is chaos in here.
And what I want to tell you is, the world this world that we live in now is not the world God created. The world that God created, the eternal Creator of all that there is, who spoke the world into existence, created an absolutely perfect world. And He created human beings that He placed in a perfect world.
The ecosystem was perfect, the weather was perfect, no hurricanes, no tsunamis. There was no death. There was no pain. There was no sorrow. There was no conflict. There were no wars. There was God and the human beings that He made in perfect fellowship.
But God, in this perfect world that He made, wanted to have a very real relationship with us. And there is a price for freedom.
See, you can make robots and have them bow down to you or say words to you, but robots don’t have the freedom to say yes or no. They are programmed. God wanted people that would have a real, authentic relationship with Him, because they had to be able to do what free, moral agents can: say “yes” to Him or say “no” to Him.
And so, what we find is the great price of freedom was that we mankind said, “God, I don’t want You. I am going to do my own thing. I think I know what’s best for me.” The world that God created revolved around Him and His Son.
Then there was this coup, this rebellion, and each one of us try and get the world to revolve around us. It’s me! And it’s mine! And more! And got to have! And there was devastating consequences. The theologians call it “the fall” or when sin entered the world.
And the impact was it separated us from God, it separates us from each other, and it separates us even from ourselves. You cannot imagine how many people deeply, deeply do not like themselves because they see who they are and who they pose and pretend to be.
And the Scripture says that even the globe, the actual earth, the fall impacted. It groans. It’s like the coup happened and then the entire planet got this cancer, this deteriorating disease and so, there are earthquakes and there are tsunamis and nothing will be made right until the Savior who came once will come back as a judge and make everything right.
But that’s how we got here. And so, there was a need. There’s a tremendous need. If God cares, what are you going to do about this?
See, if God made the world the way as it is, He is not a very good God, He’s not a good God, He’s not a kind God, He’s a cruel God. But the world that you live in is messed up. God didn’t mess it up; we did. But He cares. And so, the question number two is: where is God in the chaos?
Not just in the suffering that is happening in places around the world, but where is God in your chaos? In the relationship that isn’t going well, in the anger and the bitterness, and the people that have talked about you, and all the junk – where is God in the chaos?
Here’s the message of Easter, get this down. Easter is about a divine intervention. Anybody here know what an intervention is? Anybody had a friend or a relative – I have – that’s either a crack addict, a sex addict, an alcoholic, a prescription drugger, cocaine addict? Anybody? Well, I have. I have been involved in an intervention when my mother did it with my dad with us kids. You know what interventions are? Interventions are: people are living in destructive ways that are killing them and ruining everything and everyone around them.
And we watch the devastation, we watch the pain and then someone gets the courage to say, “I’m not playing in the system any longer,” and you get all the friends, and you get all the family, and usually find a pro who has done this before, because you need to know what you’re doing. And you all create this place and then you usually have to trick them to get them there.
And he walks in and he goes, “Oh, what is going on?” And they say, “We love you, and you have a big problem.” And whether it’s your alcoholism or whether it’s your drug addiction or whether it’s your logging-on habit, we care so much we refuse to play the game, we are intervening now and we want you to know there is hope and there is a path that you can take, but we won’t support this any longer.
And I’ll never forget the day my mom did that with our family after my dad was an alcoholic for about twenty-five years. And she said, “You can have this bottle or you can have me and the kids. But you can’t have both. And you’ve got twenty-four hours to figure it out.”
That was before we had all the technical stuff that we have now, and counseling and my dad was a Marine. He was a smart Marine. Twenty-four hours later, he said, “I choose you all.” Now, I wish he would have gotten some counseling and gotten some help, but I’ll tell you what, radical change in his life. He came to Christ after that.
But you know what Easter is? God looking down from heaven, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, of seeing all people of all time simultaneously in all of our needs and seeing the chaos and the destruction, both personally and globally. And the Son saying, “I’ll go. Let’s do an intervention! Let’s help them see that they are messed up and they are selfish, and they need to die and receive life so they can be resurrected.”
And so, Jesus came and He did the intervention to rescue us. His life mission, He said was, “I came to seek and to save those which were lost.” And so, the first thing He offered was life, because we are on death patterns. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever,” underline the word, “believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Circle the word “have”. “Have”, present tense, the moment you believe. And then the very next verse was probably as life changing for me as the first one. “For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but He sent His Son to save us.” God is not down on you. God is not down on me. He is not this angry God whose arms are crossed with a big club who has a lot of rules and just waiting for you to mess up, to bang over your head or knock you on the knuckles.
His invitation is not: get religious, get more moral, try harder, pull up your bootstraps. That’s not it! It’s an intervention where you say: how you’re living your life doesn’t work. It’s bringing death to you and death to others. “I want to give you life.” There’s a gift.
And what we are going to learn is He went to the cross and He died on the cross for you. He intervened and said, “What you can’t do for yourself, I am going to do.” And He literally paid, that’s what the word “redemption” means. He paid for your sin and paid for mine. And then He rose from the grave and says, “Look, free gift.”
But He says, “Not just life, I want to give you hope.” The very last night, He looked into His disciples’ eyes and He could see the fear in their eyes. And they had seen Him feed the poor and raise people from the dead and they knew He was the Messiah but it was like, “How is this going to work, because You keep talking about, You’re checking out.”
And He said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God. Believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places, and if it were not so, I would not have told you.” And then listen carefully, “For I go and prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and I will receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also.” Do you get it? It’s about relationship. It’s not about morality.
When the relationship is right, the morality always changes. But He says, “You need hope!” You need hope when your marriage is falling apart. You need hope when you find out someone you love has cancer. You need hope when your parents are totally messed up. You need hope when your biggest dreams were to get into that school and you didn’t get in. You need hope when you have based all your life on that athletic career and then, boom! it’s ACL and nobody wants you.
You need hope when life doesn’t work, but guess what, there’s going to come a day and the research is in, one hundred percent of the population, at some point in time, dies. So, you know when you need hope? You need hope that there’s someone who is personal and real and who is the God of the universe who made you, who is preparing a place, and wants you with Him. Wants you with Him. Because He loves you!
And then knowing that in a fallen world, you need peace. I mean, you get anxious when you don’t have enough money, you get anxious when, you know what? You used to have a house, you don’t have a house. You get anxious when you don’t have a job. You get anxious. And you know what He says? “Don’t let your heart be troubled.” And then He goes on to say, “Look, I want to give you peace. In the world you will have tribulation but be courageous. I want you to know, I have overcome the world.” And the peace that I have, I am in control. Hey, it’s awful at times, it’s difficult at times, I am in control of the big tsunamis and the little tsunamis. I am sovereignly in control of all that there is and I will take even all the evil and all the people and all the bad stuff and for those who would turn from their sin and say, “I want a relationship with You,” I will do an intervention and we will do life together. And I want to love you.
That’s the message of Easter.