A God Who Brings Relief!
Jesus walks into a bar and talks with a Buddhist.
A God Who Brings Relief!
Read Psalm 4
For the Buddhist, loss of self is the way to escape suffering, to do things that help us escape the illusion of self and achieve freedom from the desires for the material world and its struggles. Suffering is a sign that we have not achieved that freedom.
Jesus teaches that suffering is a result of sin and is the byproduct of life in a broken and sinful world, and can be brought to a God-pleasing end. He teaches that taking on suffering brings redemption.
Escaping suffering is not limited to followers of Buddha. In a minor way, most of us find ways to escape pain, from taking Aspirin or Tylenol to a host of pain killers for more serious ailments, most under doctor’s prescription. That kind of dealing with pain can help us function in a normal way to be about our life and mission as the people of God.
However, there are strong voices in the world of medicine and “health” that say pain is itself the problem! When it threatens one’s “quality of life,” defined by themselves. They suggest there is another option that should be considered namely, ending that life! Physician assisted suicide has made itself known in recent years, and is now legal in five states in our country!
Jesus offers us another option with a big difference! We thank God that He truly joins us in our pain. He is the God who brings relief, in time and in eternity!
A God Who Brings Peace!
Read Romans 5:1-5
Faith, hope and peace are all key words in these verses from Romans 5. Those words are key to our life as children of God living in this sin-broken world. Disease, death, tragedy and pain are everyday realities for our world and for us as God’s people! And it is here that the truth of our Lord Jesus makes the difference clearly known in the response of His people, a response in the midst of that pain, suffering and loss!
I’ve had the privilege of being at the bedside of faithful people near death’s door, prayed with them and heard their faint “amen” response as a weak smile crossed their face! That’s Faith!
I’ve visited a young adult bedridden for virtually her entire life. I heard her clear and joyful testimony of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, as she sat in her bed surrounded by the telephones she answered! Her bed was her “answering service work desk!” That’s Hope!
Two times in my life I have attended a graveside committal service of a departed dear friend that ended in a unique and powerful statement of faith. The last words of the service were not the benediction spoken by the pastor. The last words were sung spontaneously by those gathered, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!” That’s peace!
Thank God for the difference He makes by faith!
A God Who Prepares His People for the Realities of Faith and Life.
Read Mark 8:31-35
In the last months of our Lord’s ministry, as His miracles continued to amaze the disciples and strengthen their faith, He spoke those words of Mark 8, verse 31 that shook them to the core! “The Son of Man must suffer many things.” Stunned into silence, at least for a moment, Peter took Him aside and “rebuked Him.” Jesus response was powerful “Get behind me Satan!”
I call that a major confrontation! Our Lord’s next words were directed to the disciples, and the entire crowd around them. They all needed to know the reality of living a life of faith. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
His words were clear. Our Lord wanted His
disciples to wrap their heads around it, so He said it once, in Mark 8, again in Mark 9, and once more in Mark 10! That makes it three times in a period of just a few days! It was critical for them to know, and just as critical for us to know today!
Suffering, pain, loss, and death will be part of our lives! But most importantly, He shows His incredible compassion and love for His people of faith. “Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
Our priorities and goals in life are set on God’s Kingdom, not on our own security or comfort. Yet that fearsome thought is filled with the security of a redeemed life in God’s presence.
Buddhist meditation is emptying your mind, a practice of separation from this tangible world. Christian meditation is filling your mind with God. In a quiet time fill your mind with the glory of God’s tangible creation that you live in and enjoy. Use this meditation to bring glory and praise to God.
You can also choose to fill your mind with Christ and meditate on Ephesians 2:5-11. Fill your mind with Christ, our role model in suffering and serving.
Speak these prayers asking God to connect you with others in a significant way. Supply names as they occur to you.
- Open my eyes Lord to see the pain in the lives of those without the truth of Christ in their lives.
- Open my heart to find a way to come along side of them in a caring relationship.
- Open my ears to listen to their deepest concerns and felt needs.
- Open my hands to serve them in any way possible to help their physical needs.
- Open my mouth to speak words of help and direction when they seem open and ready to hear of my faith and the truth of our loving God.
A God Who Sends Us into Relationships
Read John 3:16-17
Relationship is the very opposite of the detachment and separation that Buddhists aspire to in their faith life. It is also the key to opening up to consider any other possibilities.
You may be surprised how many people in your network are enamored by the ideal of separation and Nirvana. Look for opportunities to build relationships with Buddhists even of the “closet” variety. You may find the opportunity to share the powerful truth of a loving God! You can share the truth of our God who is not detached at all from us in life, but sent His only Son to be one with us, live and die for us and offer us life with meaning and purpose! And even more, this gracious God offers us life with Him in eternity.
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