Sunday, December 26, 2010

Celebrating Redemption

Thoughts from my reading in Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy by Paul David Tripp. The devotional is abbreviated and my thoughts are in red.

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
Psalm 51:15

We should be the most celebratory community on earth. There should be a deep and abiding joy that's the backbeat of everything we do. Each of us should carry around with us a deep sense of privilege for who we've become and what we've been given in Christ. We'll spend eternity celebrating redemption, but there's something wrong if the rehearsal for destiny's celebration isn't beginning now.

Good reminder to me. Too often I let the junk of life determine my outlook and mood. It shouldn’t be that way. My life is in God’s hands and He causes all things to work for my good.

It should be in our minds, it should flood our hearts, it should be constantly on our lips: we have been redeemed! Chosen out of the mass of humanity, forgiven by the sacrifice of Jesus, accepted into God's family, the Holy Spirit now living inside of us, God working to empower us against and to deliver us from sin, the great paradigmatic truths of the biblical narrative now open to us, the mutual-ministry fellowship of the body of Christ our regular experience, and a guaranteed future in God's presence and free from sin and struggle. We've been redeemed! The scope and breadth of it boggles the mind. It's almost too much for our hearts to take in. Given what we couldn't deserve—love in the middle of our rebellion—and given acceptance we could never earn. We've been redeemed! We've been redeemed! We've been redeemed!

Doesn’t the religious cloud block these amazing things from our mind? Yeah, we’ve heard it before, I know all that… But really, if this is true, everyday and every thought should be colored by it.

Unlike the rest of creation, human beings are good at celebration. Last night I sat looking out an eighth-floor window over the Philadelphia Art Museum and watched the annual Fourth of July fireworks display. It was a fittingly celebratory end to a two-week celebration of our nation's birth that Philadelphia calls, "Welcome America." Welcome indeed! Welcome to remember the beginnings of the freedoms you now enjoy. Welcome to remember the patriots who gave their hearts, minds, and lives to secure this freedom. Welcome to walk the streets and enter the buildings where American freedom took its shape. And welcome to days of celebration with others who are reflecting, remembering, and recognizing the freedom that now shapes their daily lives. National freedom is a thing worth celebrating, as is another year of life, or the end of the harvest season, or twenty-five years of successful work. But all of these appropriate celebrations pale in comparison to the meaning and majesty of the reality of redemption that should flood the mind of every believer every day.

It’s the same at Christmas. I have to admit that I really look forward to the gifts and goodies I will receive. I can be “spiritual” with the best of them and can say the right words but am I really amazed by what the Christ child means? To be honest, my thoughts are more toward the commercial Christmas than the baby born in the manger.

What will you celebrate today? That raise you have been working toward? That new car you dreamed of for two years? The local team that finally won a championship? An anniversary? A birthday? The first steps of that toddler? The lack of traffic on the way to work? The deli sandwich that was better than ever? The new shoes that you thought you would never find? Your new iPhone? If you're a human being, you're a celebrator. The question is, in all of your celebrations, do you turn again and again to celebrate the most amazing, the most magnificent, the most mind-bending thing that a human being could be chosen to experience—redemption?

You have been redeemed! You have been redeemed! You have been redeemed! Now, go out and celebrate.

A question from the meditation:

Reflect on what you celebrated this year, this month, this week, today. Who is at the center of your life of celebration?

I celebrated the gifts I was given this Christmas. I celebrated with a lot of good food and cookies. This month I celebrated that my work was so much busier than last year. I also celebrate that I am a child of God. As messed up as my life can be, I know it is radically different than it would be if Jesus wasn’t at the center. Thank you Lord for being my redeemer and for the family and friends you have given to me.


PS So this post brings this devotional to a close. I have done one chapter a week this year and I think I am better for it. I have learned many things and have had my thoughts challenged and changed. Check it out yourself.

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