“Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth;
The glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-4
The prophecy I’ve quoted above is a reference to a coming King to Israel. This King would be unlike any other King. When He comes the truth about the nature of the Living God would be revealed in a three-dimensional and very accessible way. God would come as a man, the man Christ Jesus.
Sometimes I am asked what is supposed to happen to a person’s functional life when they fully embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How does it change daily behavior when a person becomes a Christ-follower?
I believe this change shows up in at least three significant ways:
- It can change the fundamental drive of your life.
We all have a basic motivational drive. It’s what gets us out of bed in the morning and gets us to do what it is we do. For most of us I think it is fear.
Fear of missing out…
Fear of not measuring up…
Fear of failing…
Fear of not having what it takes…
And all religions of the world aggravate this fear. All other religions say God is “out there” and “up there.” We have to reach Him and religion tells us how.
Buddhism: You must reach the Divine by following the 8-fold path.
Islam: You must keep and pursue the 5 pillars of faith.
Judaism: Keep the Torah (the Ten Commandments)
Secularism: Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.
American Folk Religion: Be successful at all costs. Even if that means losing your family in the process.
I heard a man say recently, “Our work is the summary of who we are.” And that is fine until you can’t do your work anymore. Or when you never achieve the level of accomplishment you dreamed for your life. And If you are an average worker and success is the ultimate measurement of your value, that can only mean that you are a loser.
But the religion that most haunts most of the people I know is as follows:
All you need is to be “saved” and go to church when you can; being a disciple and living the life Jesus actually lived and doing the deeds He actually did is optional and for the special few.
But the truth is that Jesus did not come to this earth, live a perfect life, teach the wonderful things He taught, die on a cross, pass through the hell of death and rise on the third day to give you cheap fire insurance.
He came to give you eternal life at the core of who you are so that you will be able to let Him live His life through your hands, eyes, mind, heart, and feet. That’s how the Kingdom of God comes; one soul at a time.
The Bible says that God has come to us. He has come, and it is possible to have a heart that knows we are loved by God therefore we want to live a life of gratitude. We obey the teachings of Jesus and emulate His lifestyle from a motivation of grateful joy, not out of fear. Jesus came to us because He knew we could never reach Him.
When this “good news” or Gospel metastasizes in the depths of our souls it also provides us with…
- A tremendous resource during suffering
If you really are hurting and you pour your heart out to someone and all they do is give you tons of facts about what you should do or not do. We might be the recipients of good data, but that often does not translate into the best help. Most of us know what we should be doing.
But if you pour your heart out about what’s wrong with you and the person says “I went through that very same thing. And maybe they show you that they even went through worse things. And they tell you the story of their experience, then they say they will be with you as you go through it! How do you feel?
No religion on this planet says that God has been through deep suffering except Christianity.
The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone. — Edward Shillito
Not only will Jesus change the fundamental motivation of your life and give you a tremendous resource during suffering, He also provides us with…
- A wonderful motivation for peace and justice.
Jesus coming into this world means God got a physical body. And when He died He was raised from the dead. Which means He wasn’t just raised spiritually, he was raised physically.
And what this teaches us is that the purpose of Christian salvation is not escape from the material world, but the redemption, the renewal, the healing, of the material world. In other words, it foretells about the end of times when there will be new heavens and new earth.
Therefore, not only salvation of the soul and forgiveness of sins, but fighting disease and poverty and injustice is on the agenda of the salvation of God. Don’t you want to join Him in what He is doing in this world?
This prophecy of Isaiah says that the gospel of Jesus Christ is rooted in the ancient hope of Israel for a king to come someday who would take down every mountain and raise up every canyon and heal the world of all of its disease and brokenness.
We Christians agree with the ancient prophesy and believe, “That King has come.”