Revolution

The Cross for the World

I just returned from a trip to our nation’s capital, and I came away with a greater respect for our founders and the ideals that they wanted us to live out. Here are some of those ideals as spelled out in the Declaration of Independence: 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
— Declaration of Independence

Our founders put it all on the line for a set of ideals which they may not have lived to see come to pass. They knew that to prepare the way for these ideals would cost them everything, not just in money, but in honor and in their very lives. Here is the way they said it:

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
— Our Founding Fathers

In Washington D.C., we encountered stories of sacrifice, honor, hardship and courage for the sake of an idea - an ideal from which we have benefited. I was amazed at the utter selflessness with which our ancestors endured all kinds of hardships to give us what we so often take for granted.

What if we approached the kingdom of God and indeed even our local congregation with that same kind of sacrifice? What if the Great Commission and the Great Commandment so captured our hearts that we would, “mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor”?

If that happened, I think we would see a picture of a New Testament Church! Instead, what we usually see is a consumer driven church where the comfort and entertainment of current members are paramount.

How different that is from the life Jesus modeled and the life Jesus called us to live. Notice the admonition Jesus gave those who aspired to follow him:

Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?’
— Luke 9:23–2

I still see that kind of living, though it is rare. I see people who serve the poor and our youth and children out of a true sense of calling. I see people give, not out of compulsion, but because it is part of living as a disciple. I see people teach children, youth, and adults because they want to pass the faith along to others. I see people serving on committees and teams doing work behind the scenes for the sake of the ministry of the church.

These acts of service and sacrifice are necessary for the church to move forward. It reminds that just as Jesus suffered and died to inaugurate the kingdom, you and I will need to suffer and die to implement it. As N.T. Wright succinctly reminds us, “Love will always suffer.” If we love God, the church, children, the poor, the lost we will suffer for their sake.

It is time to see the ideals of the kingdom implemented. It is time to suffer and work so others can know the God we love and serve.

Blessings,
Alan


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Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.

The Cross for Humanity

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

Romans 12:1-3, NLT


Fish Love?

When Christ died, he died according to the scriptures, because of the love he had for us. He knew we couldn't love him unless he loved us first. God wanted a relationship with us and he knew that we couldn't ever properly learn how to worship him without first being able to learn how to love him with true love.

We love all the time though, right? Rabbi Abraham explains above that we love so that we can get something in return. God loves because he has created us, and has given a portion of himself to us. All God asks in return is that we love him back and worship him. But we have repaid him with worshiping other things life: ourselves, success, power, money, perfection, etc.

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
— Matthew 22:36-39, NLT

This week, we are looking at how the revolution that Christ started when he died and rose from the dead has effected all of humanity. He has changed the world. I hope you'll join me as we join Christ in this Revolution. See you Sunday!

Blessings,
Faith

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Faith Parry serves as our Associate Pastor, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not preaching and teaching, she enjoys documentaries and TV. Read more about Faith here.

Revolution

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

1 Corinthians 15:3–5 (NRSV)


This Sunday is Easter, or as I prefer to call it, Resurrection Sunday. Many people will flock to churches all over the world who have not been in church for quite some time. There is something special about the day that even entices nominal or cultural Christians to make an effort to attend.

If you are looking for the most important day to celebrate as a Christian, this would be it. Notice, that the Apostle Paul says that the fact Jesus’ resurrection is of “first importance,” and he is correct.

In the remaining verses of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul tells us why Jesus’ resurrection is of first importance; if it didn’t happen then our faith in Christ makes no sense. Without the resurrection, our faith is a fairy tale or worse a hoax.

In the opening verses of his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul says that Jesus was, “descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power… by resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:2–4). Jesus’ resurrection was God’s stamp of approval on all that Jesus said and did.

The Resurrection

The resurrection also demonstrates that God did something important in Jesus’ death on the cross. By taking upon himself the penalty of the sin of the world, Jesus released us to be who God created us to be all along.

It is very significant that Jesus was crucified on Passover rather than the Day of Atonement. These two Jewish holy days are important, but for different reasons. The Day of Atonement emphasizes forgiveness; the Passover emphasizes the Jews’ release from slavery to be God’s ambassadors in the world.

Easter is about atonement in a sense, but it is more about freeing us from the bondage of sin so we can be God’s ambassadors in the world – that is the Revolution! On the cross, God inaugurated a plan for the rescue of the world and the establishment of the kingdom of God. The Revolution continues when we personally join in and become God’s co-workers in the restoration of the world.

Blessings,
Alan


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Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.