Friday, January 15, 2010

The End of the Road

It is Easter weekend again and while various celebrations go on around the world in the form of Passover, the Christian Easter celebration, and bunny’s with eggs (an old fertility ritual having nothing to do with Christianity), it calls to my mind where the road finally leads. The pursuit of good and the pursuit of evil are both roads we travel on the highway of life, but seldom do we consider that each has a destination. Knowing which road you are on, and why seems to be increasingly important.

Have you ever wondered how Hitler could do what he did? Or perhaps Osama, Saddam, Attila, or the leader of the Kama Rouge in Cambodia – how did these simple human men, with similar societal constructs as the rest of us, similar genetic dispositions as the rest of us, become the monsters they became? Could it be that one of us is capable of becoming one of them? Funny thing, the answer is a bit disturbing.

You see each of the men names above did not exit their mother’s womb with extreme intentions to kill and take human life. They grew into those decisions. It was not an all-at-once phenomenon that over took them. It was a steady bit by bit, decision after decision process that led them to what they became. They traveled a road that was a pursuit of serving their own self-interests, and it led them to the actions they took. I’m sure with all of them, that at an early childhood age the concept of killing another person would have been FAR more objectionable than by the time they entered their 40’s. The road took its toll on each of them; until the decision to kill was as easy as breathing.

Child molesters are a similar story. The perversions they develop do not happen all at once, they happen over time. The need for ever increasingly weird sexual stimuli continues to consume them, until what is unthinkable to a normal person, becomes just another alternate lifestyle of alternate sexual expression to them. They do not even see the “harm” in their actions, as they see sexual expression of any kind as simply natural. Curing this sickness is still one of the greatest challenges facing psychologists today. Once degraded this far, it is nearly impossible to break the patterns and return to normalcy.

The same is true of the current master of all evil. Satan did not originate life in the condition he finds himself in today. He has fallen so far from the perfection that was once what he was. The road of serving self takes its toll on even more advanced life forms than us. And where does it eventually lead? - To the death of the creator God. Satan’s first thoughts towards pleasing himself rather than serving others had nothing to do with killing Christ. But the road leads to the cross of Calvary none the less. In order for evil to survive, it must conquer good, or else it will perish. And ultimately, as unthinkable as it may seem, a road that serves yourself ends with you personally killing the creator of all life, all love, and all good things. Satan has walked down this road, and fulfilled its destiny.

When the remainder of intelligent life in the universe who had not fallen into evil, saw the end results of the journey to please oneself, they shuddered at the depths evil was capable of sinking to. It forever took the influence of Satan’s puny arguments away that God was the dictator, and he was the liberator of free will. No in fact, the cross proved the opposite was true. And the universe made its decision once and for all time. Now it comes back to man.

The road of “evil” ends at the killing of the Creator. But the road of good, merely begins there. To save us from the bondage of sin, Christ came, took on human form, lived a perfect life, and sacrificed himself to take on our punishment. The cross was the worst way the Romans could think of to kill someone. It was slow, painful, and certain. No quick painless death for captives of the state – they must be made to suffer. They must be a symbol for others to take note of. Disobey and wind up here. The message was clear, and relatively convincing.

But it is too easy to blame the established church of the time (Jews), or the established government of the day (Romans) for what happened to Christ. While Satan was the instigator of all of this, he was careful to insure that we his willing tools would be the actual instruments of our Savior’s death. It is too easy to pass blame to others for the death of our God, but in truth, it is me who is responsible. I am to blame. Look in the mirror, the guilty party is staring back at you. The evil in our lives had to be punished, it had to end in death, it was either us, or in this case, the Lamb of God who would take our punishment. But He has no sins, no evil, and did not deserve what we have steadfastly clung to in our lives. He bore the punishment of our evil, so that we could inherit the reward He deserves. This was the magnitude of the gift of God to us. Calvary is where our road begins.

But Christ did not die for us to remain stagnate in the slavery to pain we find ourselves in. He did not die in order that we might cling to our addictions to evil and pain. We are not supposed to accept His truth and then go back to misery we were bound by. He died to liberate us. He died to free us from the pains we inflict on ourselves and on those who love us. He died to free us from the slavery and addictions, and predispositions, and genetic weaknesses we inherit from our human parents. He died to recreate US. He died to make us whole.

The road to the pursuit of good begins with the knowledge that the victories will all be the Lords. That perfection is not our job, but our reward from our surrender to His will. That reconciliation with God is a personal matter for each one of us. Sin is no longer to be cherished but to be abhorred. Our vision is changing. Our hearts are melting. We learn to love. We learn not to judge, ridicule, or condemn others – but we learn to love, accept, and embrace others. We become like our role model by focusing on him.

The road to the pursuit of good starts with death. The death of Christ to redeem us, and the death of our carnal selves. What is natural to us must die. What we want must die. All of who we were is to be put upon the altar of God’s grace. And as we rise up out of the waters of death, and awaken from our spiritual coma, we begin to see the real life altering changes that make the Christian life worth living in the here and now. Death marks the beginning of our journey, but is no longer on the maps as we move forward. We are made free to live. Free to live without pain. Free to love without reservation, fear, or apprehension. Free from worry. For what in space and time could be as great, as powerful, or as intimately concerned with our individual lives, as the Creator God we serve.

Our road is an infinite pursuit of selfless service to others. And alone in this do we find pure fulfillment. This is the road that led the most perfect of all beings in the universe to think nothing of His own life, and lay it down to redeem those who still hated His very sacrifice at the time. To say that love conquers all, is to understate the magnitude of what can be overcome with it. To say that God is love, is to have said more than a human mind may ever be able to truly comprehend.

The Gospel, the Bible, nature itself, and of course our God are the embodiment of what love means, what love is, and how to reflect it to others. The original ten commandments were summed up by Christ into 2 commandments to love God first, and love others second. In His final parting words to His followers, Christ told them simply to love each other. In this the world would know we belonged to Him. This is the essence of what existence is all about, it is about love. Love created us. Love redeemed us. Love saved us from ourselves. And Love is coming back to bring us home and reunite us. At the end of the road we travel is … love.

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