HAVE YOU EVER BEEN SAVED FROM SOMETHING?
It's a funny thing
when it comes to the spiritual. In many other religions, you join out of joy. It's a matter of enjoying the people, enjoying
the music, enjoying the sermons, enjoying the sense of family. That joy is what brings you to join a church. Sometimes you
join a church because your parents went there or because you're looking for a sense of belonging.
None of those reasons
are bad reasons; don't get me wrong here.
is more than joining a church. It's not even a matter of finding God, or a sense of purpose and meaning. Christianity is God's
purpose finding you.
It is the stark realization
that you are lost in a place you decided to wander into of your own free will. It is realizing that you have fallen into a
deep, dark place where there is nothing but death, pain and madness, and the only people or things down in that darkness are
creatures who want to swallow you whole and keep you with them.
Those of you who
have battled depression know what I'm talking about.
Those of you who
have been addicted to drugs, alcohol or even another person understand where I'm coming from. It's like being in a bottomless
pit with nothing or no one to stop you from falling forever.
That's what it means
to feel lost.
Have you ever been
so lonely that you wanted to die? Have you ever watched someone you love waste away and go into death before your eyes?
Have you ever seen
your dreams get stomped on and wither into nothingness? Have you ever lain in bed, crying next to somebody sleeping next to
you, wondering how in the world you got there? Have you ever loved someone who spit on your love and threw it all away, no
matter how hard you tried to love them back?
Thats what it means
to have lost.
Have you ever thought
or done something that you would never want to admit in the light of day? Have you done things that would make your best friend
or even the mother who bore you wanted to throw you away? Have you ever lusted or stolen or hurt or shamed other people? Would
you want your thought life and feelings out in the open for everyone to see as naked and raw as they can be?
That's what it means
to BE lost.
The reason why people
can find a new life is that Person hanging on the Cross. Jesus took on every piece of loneliness and pain and depression and
hatred and fear and madness and addiction and rejection and more, so that we could let it go.
Jesus has done all
the work. All we have to do is to own what He already did. That's how you get saved FROM something to being saved FOR Someone.
OWNING YOUR SIN
I had a dream of
Jesus on the Cross, that taught me the power of owning sin.
In that dream I saw
Him hanging there on that Cross. The sun was dying in the middle of the day as darkness rolled in behind His head. He was
high up on a hill, far away and I felt so awful seeing Him there that I wanted to run and hide from all of that pain.
You see, I understand
why Hollywood has never done a real Passion of Christ before. It is too ugly and horrible to watch from a distance. And that's
the way we want to see ugliness-from far away so that it doesn't make us hurt too.
But the only way
to deal with ugliness is to get up close and personal to it. That's when you see the humanity in the person who is dying from
cancer, or the beauty inside of the accident victim, or the inner sweetness of someone caught in some horror of the mind.
You have to get close
enough to care.
So, when I tried
to run away from the Cross in my vision, I heard Jesus whisper, "Come here."
Half of me wanted
to keep running. The other half wanted to obey. Have you ever been torn that way? I was. But, I decided to ignore what was
scared and horrified inside of me and to come to Him, as He was.
I walked up to the
Cross and suddenly the Cross started to shrink, until it was short enough for the Lord and I to see each other on the same
He looked terrible,
just like the picture from Gibson's movie only worse.
I saw all the tears
in His body, down to the bone, the bruises, the smashings, the rips that covered every part of Him from head to toe. I started
shaking all over in a mixture of sympathy, anger and fear. I was confused by the rawness of it all and for that moment I wanted
to be there and not be there at the same time.
He looked at me in
the way that only Jesus can. Its like an x-ray machine that sees everything but without judgment or disgust. I couldn't look
away from those eyes. I could just stand there and see Him.
Then suddenly I heard
Jesus say, "Own Me."
I frowned. "What,
He stared at me and
actually smiled, in the middle of that kind of pain!
"Own Me," He said
I don't understand,
Lord, I said.
Jesus took a breath,
pushed Himself up on the Cross and asked, "Which one of these did you do to Me?"
I shuddered. I didn't
want to admit that I had done anything to Jesus. I know that sounds lame, but
it's the truth.
I remembered what
the Bible said, "They shall look upon Him whom they have pierced."
I took a deep breath
and really looked at the Lord's wounds.
As I did, I started
having memories flash through my brain. I saw the time I stole a dollar from my mother's purse and how my big brother got
blamed for it. Did I say anything? No. So, he got in trouble in my place. The candy I bought wasn't worth the realization
that I let someone innocent suffer in my place. I had forgotten that one over time. But, I wonder how my brother felt.
My eyes went to the
cut on Christ's knee. "I own that one," I said and bent over to kiss it.
I thought about other
sins, some seemed small, until I saw how they looked on His body. The small lies, the nasty remarks, the cruel comments, the
cold looks, the temper tantrums, the dirty and evil thoughts and fantasies didn't seem so secret or small when you see them
in 3-D, stamped and beaten into Someone's flesh.
Tears filled my eyes.
I knelt down and kissed the wounds that went with the sins. "I own that one and that one too," I said. "I did that. I did
Then there were the
bigger rips along His sides. Those were the times I slept around. Oh, I didn't care back then. It was all fun to me. But,
as I watched I saw the look on the guys' faces when I walked out on them. It all came back to me. That left a bruise on them and pulped ribs on the Lord. How that must have hurt them and Him!
I took off my blouse
and wiped the blood away. "I'm sorry, Lord. I did that to You and to them."
And then there was
the money I took for helping kids cheat on tests and papers. I helped people pass who should have flunked. Some of them were
going into med school. I wonder how his or her lack of knowledge might have hurt someone else? I didn't care. I wanted the
money. What was the difference between Judas and me? He wanted his silver too,
if I remember correctly. I bet he had his reasons too.
The sins rushed past
my mind. There were so many! But surely there was one missing! I hadn't murdered anyone, right?
Then I remembered...
She was 18 years
old and pregnant. She didn,t want to be either one. "I think I'll have an abortion," she said.
"I don't think you
should do that," I said. "That's not right."
"Well, I think that's
the right thing for me to do."
She turned away and
I heard a small voice say in my mind, "Help me."
I started to say
something but I thought, "Oh, she'll just brush me off and after all it is her life."
I let her go and
a few weeks later, I heard that she had the abortion.
Not long after that
I heard she tried to kill herself.
I looked up and saw
that Jesus had quietly died while I was standing there.
"Oh no!" I sobbed.
"I let You die again. I let You die and I didn't do anything to stop it."
WHAT IS THE TRUTH?
We are Pilate, who
washed his hands of the responsibility of saving an innocent man.
We do this every
time we say, I'm too busy to help so and so. I have problems of my own. Besides, it's not my job!
We are Peter, who
said he loved Jesus, but when it came time to stand up for his best friend, where was he? Denying that he ever knew the man!
We do this when we
refuse to tell other people about God, because we don't want to be TOO RELIGIOUS, or we run with people who don't give a damn
about the Lord because we want to be cool and accepted.
We are the Pharisees
who said they loved God and then crucified Him when He came to earth. Why? Because He didn't look like the Messiah they
were waiting for. Jesus was too poor, too down to earth, too scruffy, and too real for them. They wanted a faith based on
rules and regulations, not honesty and love.
We do this when we
feel superior to others and hide our ugliness away behind our politeness and pretensions. We act as if WE would never lust
or steal or lie. We act all shocked when someone else falls into evil, as if we would never be such slime.
BUT THE TRUTH IS
THAT WE DID IT.
WE BEAT HIM UP
WE SPAT ON HIM
WE NAILED HIM DOWN
ON A CROSS
WE KILLED HIM DEAD
It wasn't the Romans.
It wasn't the Jews.
All that hate and
fuss was us.
I woke up from that
dream a nervous wreck.
I couldn't sleep.
I couldn't eat.
I went to my classes
in a fog and nothing I could do or say seemed to make my pain inside go away.
Is this what it's
like to be in Hell? I wondered. But for the life of me I couldn't say I didn't deserve it.
A few days later
I was in church, just sitting there. I wasn't praying. I couldn't even think straight. Everything hurt too much.
I looked up and saw
Jesus standing there. It was the first time in my life I had ever seen a vision of the Lord without being asleep. He was just
like He had been on the Cross, only He was off the Cross and standing there in His loincloth, bleeding and dying.
"Own Me," He said.
It was a good thing
the chapel was deserted because I yelled out, "I can't own You! I can't! I killed You, isn't that enough?"
He didn't move.
"I'm sorry, but that's
all I can do. All I can do is to say that I'm sorry.
And what does that
He simply stood there,
We stared at each
other for a minute and suddenly I knew: I could walk away from Him and pretend that I hadn't killed Christ. I could shut that
pain out of my heart. But, if I did that then I would be shutting Him out too.
Jesus comes with
my Cross that He bore, assault and battery by me included.
The only way Jesus
could live in me was to admit that He was My Savior that I had hurt and murdered. As long as I couldn't admit to my sin, He
couldn't really save me from anything.
I could pretend I
was fine and that bloody, dying Jesus happened to someone else, long ago.
Or I could own Him.
I got up in my vision
and went over to Him. I threw my arms around Him and hugged Him
"I own You, I said.
I own up to every wound on Your body. I admit to what I did because of what I am, no damn good, just like the Bible says.
If I were the only
person in the world, I would have done this to You because I am selfish and cruel. I didn't care about You. I didn't save
You. You saved me and I am sorry You had to do that at all. If it was up to me I say, Save Yourself and let me go to the Hell
I'm in now, because that's what I deserve.
And if You leave
me here for all Eternity, well then that's what I get and it's only fair."
I paused. "But, I
want to love You. I want to be right. I don't want to be this monster anymore, all pretty on the outside and ugly inside.
I want to love You, but I don't know how."
I heard the Lord
say something. I looked Him in His smashed face.
He smiled. "Own Me,'
I was confused, but
only for a moment. I felt something stir inside of me and I knew that at that moment, something had come to life in my heart.
I saw that I was
Simon of Cyrene, forced to help Jesus carry His Cross but who learned to do it with Grace and honor.
I saw that saw that I was Veronica wiping His Face, despite what everyone else said to her.
I saw that I was Mary the Magdalene, who had been such a sinner and stuck with Him to the
Cross and beyond.
I saw that I was Mary, holding my Baby dead in my arms and feeling pain that tore my heart
That's what I could
be for the rest of my life, if I owned Him by letting Him own me.
I saw that as clear
as day and I knew that I would never be the same whether I said yes or no.
So, I said, "I own
You, Jesus. I own Your suffering and death. Now, don't just save me."
I dropped to my knees.
"Please, own me."
He held out His poor
hands, all torn and bloody. I kissed them. And suddenly there was a light that surrounded both of us.
I closed my eyes
for a moment because it was so bright and when I opened them, Jesus was standing there healed and happy; the way He must have
been when He rose from the dead.
Christ was perfect
and beautiful, even with the scars on His hands, feet and side. And when He looked at me there was such joy in His eyes that
I cried again from happiness.
Jesus said, "It is
Then we both started
laughing so hard that I choked. Why? I don't know.
But I will never
forget that Good Friday late afternoon in 1976 down in Gesu Chapel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was then that I knew I had
been saved and born again.
That's what Jesus
meant when he said, Behold, I make ALL things new!
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN
SAVED FROM SOMETHING?
OWNING YOUR SIN IS
OWNING YOUR SALVATION.
I know I am healed
because those stripes were real.
I should know how
real they are because I helped put them there! I own those sins. I own that death and I have been forgiven from them because
Jesus saw beyond what I was to what I could be.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN
LETTING JESUS OWN
YOU IS BEING BORN AGAIN.
I know that Jesus
came and died over two thousand years ago. I know He rose from the dead before I was born. But each one of us killed Him.
And each one of us can raise Him from the dead by letting Him live in us right now.
The choice is ours.
We know how the story
ended in history. The tomb of Jesus is empty. But where is Jesus right now for you?
Is He on the Cross
being tortured by you or is He in your heart being loved by you?
Jesus once told me
that until the day He returns each one of us will both crucify and raise Him by how we treat each other.
But, as we let Him
become the center of our lives, the pain to Him will grow less because Jesus will grow more and more in us. It's a choice
we make by owning our sin and letting Him own us.
The Passion of the
Christ is about each one of us and what we did to God's gift of Eternal Love in our lives.
Where do you fit?