Simple things can bring many blessings
Have you ever changed your plans in order to help someone else and then discover that was the best outcome? Acts as simple as listening to your child or grandchild, helping out a neighbor, or volunteering in your community can bring blessings well beyond the time invested.
In moments like these, God reminds us that he is able to revise our plans very effectively, and that life is never meant to be about us.
A Christian’s life is meant to be marked by selfless love demonstrated in action. But, truth be told, ours often don’t. The trajectory of our attention can, if left unchallenged by God, turn back toward ourselves.
We need God to remind us what life is really all about, and he can do that effectively! Here’s a summary of that reminder, written by the apostle Paul:
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.
And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NIV))
The Bible often compares people to livestock, and never in flattering ways. When this verse speaks of God’s love compelling us, that word “compel” refers to being restrained or hemmed in, like a cow in a cattle squeeze. Ancient farmers, as well as Nevada ranchers, made use of such a squeeze to gently restrain the cow while administering medication or caring for the animal.
God uses his word and his work in our lives to get our attention: life is not all about us! First, Paul reminds us of how we — and anyone — are made right with God in the first place: “One died for all.” If we were left to our own devices, our own efforts, we would never be right with God. Jesus Christ intervened on our behalf: God’s only son became our perfect substitute, paying the price for our sins. And sin, at its heart, is acting as if life is all about us, even if that means harming others.
As Jesus was raised from the dead, so we are raised to a brand-new life by faith in him. Ravi Zacharias, the noted Christian apologist, often says, “Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good, but to make dead people live.” Through faith in Jesus, we can have life where none existed before; we can have a relationship with the living God.
Let’s respond to the cattle squeeze of God’s love and realize that life is not about ourselves! In Christ’s strength, we can love that person that irritates us; serve those people we’d rather not be around; become uncomfortable in order to help others. Then those around us will see Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection are not only historical events, but life-changing ones too.
Pastor Don Baumann of Hilltop Community Church is a member of the Carson Valley Minister’s Association.