Have you ever wondered what truly began Christianity? For those of you who have, let’s put it into our cultural paradigm.
A lot of us, especially in America, land in one of three categories –
- We profess Christ is King and live daily to exalt His name
- We are nominal Christians who claim to associate with Christ, but don’t follow His teachings or His commands
- See Christianity and roll our eyes at it’s hypocrisy.
Regardless of where you land, don’t skip to the next website quite yet. I want to share something with you that you have likely never heard before, or perhaps a different angle that you have never considered. It will first begin with the familiar – Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life in the flesh as fully God and fully man, died for the inequities of those who call upon His name as King, and defeated death by rising from the grave by the power of the Holy Spirit three days later and living a short period of time before ascending to the right hand throne of God. This is, in fact, the Gospel that brings forth transformation to millions who have experienced and encountered the authentic grace God provides through His mercy for His people. But to the part that most don’t consider – the foundation of Christianity. If you have either heard the Gospel or believe the Gospel, you have likely noticed there is an unexplainable joy for those who believe because Christ will later return for His people. So what is this celebration? Peter writes even that your adversaries will ask where your joy comes from.
So tell me again (#2 would ask), why are we celebrating a guy who’s followers helped crucify Him? (If you’re in the #3 category, you’re like SEE this is hypocritical from the get go!) But keep reading, I plead with you (#1 answer will follow)…
This unexplainable joy and peace that passes understanding is spoken in the Holy Scriptures numerous times and it is unexplainable, trust me, I try to understand it but fall short. Here’s the thing most people disregard though, the foundation of those who are Christ followers. These Christ followers participate in what is now called Christianity.
Back to Jesus and why we’re celebrating Him…You see the human flesh absolutely despises embarrassment, it probably hates embarrassment more than just about any other emotion. If you embarrass a shy person, they will retaliate and hold it against you for quite possibly the rest of their life. If you embarrass someone who is abrasive, it defeats their dominant persona. If you embarrass someone anyone in-between, it will haunt them for a long time – it will soon become a memory of “Do you remember when…..happened? Oh, that’s so funny!” There is no defense mechanism for embarrassment, other than to embarrass the other person by way of retaliation. It’s the one thing that leads to shame, which is a derogatory form of disassociation for either a temporary time or permanently. Okay, now you are reading this and are confused because one second it’s about peace and joy, yet now we’re discussing shame and embarrassment? Trust me, keep reading, we’re going to pull everything full circle!
So – think about, while reading this next section, what would be the most embarrassing thing that could possibly happen to you? What would be the most shameful thing that could happen to you? What if these things happened to you for being obedient? Would you sacrifice temporary shame for eternal glory?
Jesus does this – as He proclaims that He is the Son of God, everyone quickly grows against Him. So Judas, a disciple (12 total) of Christ and a good friend, betrays Jesus for financial gain by letting the government know their whereabouts and helping them capture Jesus, ultimately leading to His persecution. So now, in obedience of God, Jesus accepts whatever punishment will come His way. The punishment becomes brutal by being lashed, beaten endlessly, and hung on a cross. Back tot he question, what would be the most embarrassing thing that could happen to you? What would be the most shameful thing that could happen? Could you imagine how embarrassing and shameful it would be to be publicly beaten and crucified on a cross for being obedient to your father? Yet by God’s grace, Jesus’ will-power, and gifting of the Holy Spirit, Jesus takes everything unashamedly and with unexplainable joy as Jesus knows that this temporal pain and punishment would lead to the glory of His Father and allow people for the rest of time to encounter Him in a new way.
So now do you think that Christianity was built upon unicorns and zebras? Far from it as you can see, it was built upon the scandalous grace of God, the shame experienced by Jesus, the slanderous comments by man to Jesus, and the torture He experienced for us. That His sacrifice would atone for our sins. That version of foundational Christianity is what should motivate us to experiencing new heights with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That powerful love and sin-bearing weight atoned for us should motivate us beyond anything imaginable to share His amazing grace with the rest of the world. It is thanks to Jesus’ enamoring joy and unashamed drive to live in obedience to His Father. It is because of Jesus that we, Christians, have eternal hope. It is because of Jesus that we will sacrifice the temporal for the eternity. It is because of Jesus that we live to by sanctified by the Holy Spirit and turn away from our sins. It is to Jesus that we have thanks to give. Now that He has done these things, our hope rests in His return for His people, for it is in Jesus that we have our eternal security.