Jesus died for ____________.
Sometimes, I like to spend devotional time simply pondering how I would fill in certain blanks. I’m not just blowing smoke at you, I really do this, here’s an actual example. I find that the process helps me get clarification on what I really believe sometimes, and why. I end up digging past platitudes (you know, the churchy 'I pass the test' answers) I hoped I believed to arrive at something more meaningful.
When it comes to the subject of what Jesus died for, though, I always hesitate for just a beat. Why? Well, it’s like with the old "Who Killed Jesus?" question: I can give you an answer, but does it matter? After all, he’s not dead! The whole point of all of this is that our Savior lives!
But I admittedly digress. There are true things for which Jesus allowed himself to be sacrificed. Interestingly enough, the things the Lord died for are pretty much the same things he lived for…
You. Me. That vile sinner over there. That unhelped leper over there. The defeat of sin. To turn everything upside-down. To demonstrate God’s power over sickness, death, everything. To reconcile God and man. To kick the enemy in the teeth.
Jesus died for big, impossible, amazing, miraculous, eternal, radical things.
And you know, that frustrated some who were more concerned with smaller, temporal, everyday earthly things, like, say, kicking the Romans out of Jerusalem.
I’m not the only one pondering such things today. Over at The Gospel Coalition, Caleb Flores turns our little fill-in-the-blank activity on its head, to consider "4 Things Jesus DIDN’T Die For" (emphasis mine).
Flores is concerned because “the lack of clarity regarding Jesus' death [means] deceitful doctrines have crept into our churches.”
Yep. See? Exercises like our fill-in-the-blanks activities today really are beneficial sometimes.
Here are the four non-gospel belief systems Flores sees as danger spots that were never part of Christ’s mission:
The American Dream
"Devastatingly harmful teaching in churches across America claims physical 'blessings' are a sure sign of God’s favor. Not only does this teaching fly in the face of the entire Bible, but it's also a grievous offense to those Christians experiencing immense persecution in countries all over the world, often in impoverished circumstances."
Your Political Cause
"Jesus isn’t a conservative Republican. Jesus isn’t a progressive Democrat. Jesus is God… Christians have one supreme message: the gospel of Jesus Christ’s atoning death, glorious resurrection, and coming kingdom. Be defined by that message."
So You Wouldn't Have to Change
"Jesus died so we would change… such unimaginable grace will change you. Will you still sin? Yes, until the day you die. But by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Christian believer will persevere."
To Raise Your Moral Standard
"Look around your church. How many people look for morals rather than salvation? How many want law rather than grace?"
I especially enjoyed Flores's juxtaposition of those last two. We do love our extremes, don't we? But our liberty should never allow our former natures to run wild, and our being made holy should never cause us to expect a standard of perfection from others. That's what boggles my mind about the things for which Jesus did and did not die: yes they are big and radical, but they are also sane and just.
If you'd like to continue studying the concepts Caleb Flores reminds us that Jesus did NOT die for, I've compiled the following resources from our archives for you to check out:
THE AMERICAN DREAM
CHRIST AND POLITICAL CAUSES
CHANGE / CONTINUING TO SIN / ANTINOMIANISM
MORALISM / LEGALISM
Shawn McEvoy is the Managing Editor at Crosswalk.com.
Publication date:September 5, 2014