A Time to Imagine What Might Be

From: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10720638

Since the first Christian sermon in 1814, our nation has to a large extent been shaped by this ethic.
Key words/Tags: Easter, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Hope, New Zealand Herald

Imagine there is a God who is loving, just and good. Suppose this God formed the world, full of beauty and with people like us in it. Imagine God's plan is for a world full of goodness, beauty, and love, free of horror, suffering and death.
Consider that this world was corrupted and became flawed, no longer utterly good but a mix of beauty and torment, suffering and joy, life and death. It is now a perplexing place; full of goodness and love, yet broken with the horror of earthquakes, tsunamis, war, disease, struggle, and the inevitability of death.
Imagine then, that God resolved to "save" this world; to deal with the horror and suffering. How might that look?

For many, it would look like a revolution with God coming decisively to suppress all opposition with brute force. We know what this looks like. We have seen it in playground bullies and in the likes of dictators who impose "peace" with ideology and force.

Such a hope was in vogue in Israel 2000 years ago. Empires ruled the world this way. Rome and her Caesars were the current power-holders. Many in Israel longed for release through a coming Messiah, a powerful descendent of David. They hoped he would come and assume control with God's power, leading the overthrow of the ruthless Romans and establishing God's reign and "peace" across the world.

When understood in this context, the Easter Story is the stunning account of God's Son coming to save his world in a totally unanticipated fashion. The Christian faith is built on the conviction that, in Jesus of Nazareth, God came to earth. Rather than coming in blazing glory, wealth and power, he came in poverty and obscurity, born among animals in the insignificant town of Bethlehem. For 30 years he was a complete unknown.

At age 30 Jesus began his work. Rather than impose himself with power and call the nation to war, he avoided the mainstream and went out among the poor, marginalised and lost, feeding, healing, and preaching God's love and forgiveness. After three years, without a stain on his character, he was betrayed by a friend and arrested.
Jesus was questioned with evidence supplied by false witnesses, and then handed on to the Roman authorities who had the power to put him to death. The Roman procurator Pilate could find no fault with him, but out of political expediency sentenced him to die. Dressed in purple and crowned with thorns, Jesus was mocked and ruthlessly beaten and flogged by the Roman soldiers. Exhausted, he was forced to walk the path to the cross where he was crucified under the ironical title, "King of the Jews".

As with any such crucifixion, the overall point was to warn all would-be revolutionaries "don't mess with Rome!" The crowds abused him mocking him as king, challenging him to come down and prove it himself with power.
Between two genuine revolutionaries, completely abandoned, Jesus took it all without retaliation. He said his final words, "it is finished", and breathed his last.
A soldier pierced his side, and separated blood flowed verifying his death. He was taken down from the cross, placed in the tomb of a follower, blocked with a large stone, and guarded by Roman soldiers. The crowds left; another pretender to power defeated.
On the face of it, the event is insignificant; yet another story of a misguided agitator squashed by forces of the world.

On the Passover Sunday, a strange thing happened. Some women followers of Jesus came to the tomb to find the stone rolled away, the soldiers gone, and the tomb empty. They were confused as were his other followers.
Further strange events followed, with a series of appearances of Jesus in Jerusalem, Judea, Galilee, and Syria. These experiences convinced his followers that Jesus had risen from the dead. They pondered what had happened, remembering his teaching and the ancient prophecies. They realised God had come to save his world not as expected, by imposing himself with military force and suppression, but as a servant to save through humility, selflessness, sacrifice and death. In coming to die for the world, Jesus had become the final sacrifice for sin.

Jesus came to overcome evil, not illegitimately with compulsion, but through his refusal to yield to evil as it did its worst to defeat him. He overcame the worst enemy of humanity, death, ironically by dying himself, and being raised from the dead to overcome it. He came to invite the world to turn and believe in him so that the world can experience this life, hope and resurrection power. Jesus came to invite the world to live in a new way, to live not for prestige, power, and wealth but out of the pattern he had laid down in his service.
His death through political intrigue and violent force is the doorway into a new world which should be free of such horror. Sadly, we still have not come to fully understand what Jesus' death and resurrection means. It was the death to end all deaths and a call to bring a reconciling peace to God's world. Imagine if we were all gripped with this message today. How might the world look if we lived out the ethic of Jesus, whatever the cost?

This is what the first Christians did. Despite facing insurmountable odds, rejection, persecution, suffering and martyrdom, they courageously refused to be silenced, and the message of peace spread throughout the Roman world. Within 300 years, without the use of violent force, this story became the religion of the Roman world.
Now, more than one-third of the world's population are followers of Jesus. Since Marsden's first sermon at Christmas in the Bay of Islands in 1814, our nation has to a large extent been shaped by this ethic.
It is significant this year that Easter falls on the same weekend as Anzac Day. Gallipoli and the stories of our people giving their lives for freedom and love reveal the struggle our world faces, and remind us of the power of sacrifice and service for others.

We, Christian leaders of Auckland City, invite you this Easter to join the two billion followers of Jesus in the world today, to spend time acknowledging the meaning of Easter. The events of Easter vividly tell the story of God, who, with arms outstretched, invites us all to find forgiveness and salvation through Christ and to join the global movement to see God's world restored. Imagine what would happen if we all said YES!

This message agreed by: The Rev Dr Neville Bartle, national superintendent, Church of the Nazarene; Rt Rev Ross Bay, Anglican Bishop of Auckland; Rev Norman Brookes, Auckland superintendent, Methodist Church of New Zealand; Pastor Luke Brough, national leader, Elim Churches; Pastor Terry Calkin, senior pastor, Greenlane Christian Centre; Rev Murray Cottle, regional consultant, Baptist Churches of New Zealand; Pastor Paul de Jong, senior pastor, LIFE Church; Bishop Patrick Dunn, Roman Catholic Bishop of Auckland; Mr Peter Eccles, Auckland District chairman, Congregational Union of New Zealand; Pastor Vic Francis, chairman of the Association of Vineyard Churches Aotearoa New Zealand; Pastor Ken Harrison, superintendent, Assemblies of God New Zealand; Pastor Brian Hughes, senior pastor, Calvary Chapel; Rev Fakaofo Kaio, moderator, Northern Presbytery, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand; Rev Andrew Marshall, director, Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches; Very Rev Jo Kelly-Moore, Dean, Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral; Pastor Bruce Monk, national leader, Acts Churches NZ; Pastor Sam Monk, pastor, Equippers Church; Pastor Peter Mortlock, senior pastor, City Impact Churches; Major Heather Rodwell, divisional commander, The Salvation Army; Pastor Eddie Tupai, president North NZ Conference, Seventh-day Adventist Church; Rev Dr Richard Waugh, national superintendent, Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand.

From: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10720638

Shared by craig

"Together, one mind, one life at a time, let's see how many people we can impact, encourage, empower, uplift and perhaps even inspire to reach their fullest potentials."

PPS
"The tiniest ray of light can pierce through the thickest darkness."
In your own life shine your own bright light that helps overcome the darkness.

A happy and blessed Easter to you all

Author's Bio: 

About the Submitter:

In his life mission Craig hopes to encourage, motivate and inspire people to be their best through realising their full potentials and live their very best lives (without being too much of a too boring Mr goody-goody two shoes" (as he's lost one!). Craig believes in the great potential of every human being in the journey of life and loves to encourage people to share their individual (and guiding) spirits, so that they become all that they are CAPABLE of being.

The various books that Craig "felt inspired to write" are available at: www.creativekiwis.com/index.php/books/74-craigs-books http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/craiglock www.lulu.com/craiglock and https://www.xinxii.com/asresults.php?s4=craig+lock&sid=1

"The world’s smallest and most exclusive bookstore”

The submitter's blog (with extracts from his various writings: articles, books and new manuscripts) is at http://en.search.wordpress.com/?q=%22craig+lock%22 and http://craiglock.wordpress.com

A book is small enough to hold in your hand; but when you read it, the walls fall away and you're in a room as big as the world."

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.”
- Chinese proverb

"A book, like a dog, is man's best friend, but inside it's too dark to read."

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"Together, one mind, one life at a time, let's see how many people we can impact, encourage, empower, uplift and perhaps even inspire to reach their fullest potentials."