16: Saved for Servanthood

We have great joy. Our world is filled with tragedy, but we have hope. The beauty of our hope isn’t a cheap imitation, God doesn’t pretend; he doesn’t make any claims that the world is okay, he not only acknowledges the ugliness, he shows us that it is much uglier then we realize. The beauty of our hope is not that it denies suffering, no, it embraces it and gives it meaning. Suffering is not senseless, our world is not arbitrary; it is plunged into darkness by sin, and suffering is inevitable; but in the midst of the darkness and pain we have such hope, because we know that this life, this short, often painful life, is not the end. Our end when we are the god of our own lives is a world of fear, pain, suffering and loss and finalized in death; we can’t help it, we destroy ourselves, we were not meant to be God; but the hope that Christmas brings is that God has rescued us out of the depravity we’ve plunged ourselves into, so that we can have joy fulfilling the very purpose for which we were created: to glorify the living God.
As I’ve written this series I’ve focused largely on what we have been saved from, which is incredible, and is such good news, but really the reason it is such good news is because of what we have been saved to. We have been saved from depravity, enslavement to sin, and unnatural separation from the God who lovingly created us; but we have been saved to freedom, a freedom to serve our Creator eternally, to be sanctified and made holy by him, and ultimately to have relationship with him. We have been saved to our purpose, really. We were created to worship God, because, well, he’s God and the infinite, perfect, ultimate being deserves our worship. But, in our enslavement to sin and our deceived pride we’ve turned from God, and since it is in our nature to worship we worship other things, mainly ourselves. And we disappoint ourselves, we fail, miserably, because we aren’t God, we are not the ultimate being, but rather his creation, made perfect when we are in relationship with him, but without him we are as C.S. Lewis puts it, “half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far to easily pleased.” We are silly creatures who do not know what we have given up for stupid trifles. We can only dimly see the beauty that is found in God here, but that glimpse is more then enough to let go of our pride in ourselves (because we fail anyway), and cling to the hope of the cross. That hope that we not only are saved from the slum, but that we are saved to life everlasting, joyful and perfect in the presence of our God.
Christ came with the free gift of life when he was born in that manger scene, died on that cross and rose from that tomb, and we need only to acknowledge the truth: he is Lord, he is God and we are not. We are saved into servanthood, and when our pride rears its ugly head at the word “servanthood”, we should take that opportunity to kill it, to rid ourselves of that stupid pride that tells us that we shouldn’t serve God, that we should only live for ourselves, because that is complete denial of reality; and we can see very clearly how serving ourselves will ultimately end, our broken world is very clear proof of it. God is God, that is simply reality; the ultimate being, our Creator, should be whom we serve. So as we share in the joy of Christmas and the reality of a God who rescued us from ourselves (because we never could), let’s abandon our mud pies, and enter into the holiday, the joyful presence of our God. Because when we accept that gift of a Savior, we are no longer slaves to sin, we no longer live in fear, we are freed to serve our God, and in that obedience we can find true joy and true life.

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