Saturday, September 10, 2016

John 3:14-17 -- On College, Course-Corrections, and Christ

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
John 3:14-17

It's hard sometimes to understand God's perspective.  Ours is inherently limited by our mortality--the veil, being on the earth rather than in heaven, etc.  One thing that is absolutely essential to understanding the gospel though is that all of life is intentional.  Our lives are not an accident or a whim. We all have a purpose, and are here for a reason.  Part of that reason, for everyone, is to become more than we were--to grow, to learn, to gain a body and learn to use it, to make choices, to become who we want to be.

Maybe earth life is kind of our coming of age journey in an eternal sense.  We're out on our own for the first time, and though our parents are keeping tabs, they are not hovering or interfering.   Kind of like going away to college perhaps.  We have this new freedom, in which we realize that no one else is making the decisions for us, to go to church or not, to eat junk food or not.  On the other hand, we also have to learn to get ourselves out of trouble, and solve our own financial problems for the first time. It's exciting and also scary.  Fun sometimes and horrific other times, to see the consequences of our actions and know that we have to live with them.  Our parents might be able to help from afar, but in many respects we are alone, and have to learn what that means and who we are, distinct from everyone else.  That's a tough thing sometimes.

Earth life is like that on a larger scale.  It's an incredible opportunity, but it is also frightening and tortuous at times, and just like going to college, we're probably going to make some mistakes, maybe even serious ones.  In a spiritual sense, these mistakes are called sins.  And just like we can retake a class in college, or change majors, or break up with someone we shouldn't have been dating, we get second chances in life too.  If we figure out we're becoming someone we don't want to be, we get to course-correct and repent.  We can change, and make better choices, and be better people.

In college the consequences of our mistakes, at least mostly, are still smallish.  We might fail a class, lose opportunities and friends, get academic probation, or even get kicked out of that school... but we can still finish, and get the degree, if we dive in and work hard, even if it has to be somewhere else.

In the larger area of life, the consequences are often larger, depending on the mistake.  Making bad choices might ruin our health, our relationships with family, our finances, or our physical freedom... sometimes for the rest of our lives.  In order allow us to overcome even these sorts of largish mistakes, Christ paid the price to allow us to course-correct even here, and patch up our lives, and make better choices and start over as much as we can.  Even if we screwed up royally, we can stop and change.  And if we do, Christ makes it okay again.  He is the way to get a do-over even for things where there just are none... and the only reason that we have to hope when we've melted our lives down.

After this life, to continue the analogy, when our coming-of-age journey is over, we're going to have to go back and talk about it with our parents and the other community leaders, and discuss what we learned.  If we've learned a lot, then we graduate to adulthood and will be treated as equals with the other adults.  If not, then we might have to sit at the kid table forever. :)  And of course, if we learned only to be evil and to harm others, then we can't live in the community anymore, and we'll have to go somewhere else.

Today, let's realize the reason that we are here on earth, and let's start retaking the classes that we have failed.  Let's change and do better, learn more, and be more.  Let's prepare for the day when we get to go back and meet God again.  Let's have something to show for it.  And let's be grateful to Christ for the gift of being able to have this space to grow and learn and change, and to build anew even when things seem utterly destroyed.

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