Thoughts About Rembrandt

11292770_10207054393785140_984559845_n

Rembrandt has a painting called Raising of the Cross.

At first glance, there’s nothing unusual about it. There’s Jesus on the cross, being raised by a couple of others and being jeered at and mocked by the surrounding crowd.

But at second glance, you notice something different about the man in the middle. He’s wearing a blue beret. Why? Because it’s Rembrandt painting himself into the picture.

There’s a profound statement in that painting. Rembrandt basically says that he helped put Jesus on the cross. And so did I.

The hymn says that it was my sin that held Him there. Because of my sin, Jesus died.

Jesus paid the highest price for the sin that I sometimes treat so lightly. It’s almost as if I can sin casually, knowing that I will be forgiven and all will be well in the end. Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls that cheap grace.

Sin may not bring punishment, thanks to Jesus, but there are always consequences to my sin. The more I sin, the less I can sense God’s presence. Jesus with all the sin of the world on Him, couldn’t sense God at all. His cry of “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” came out of that.

Sin kills me inside. It’s like a scar over an old wound where the nerves don’t work as well. Sin deadens me not only to God but also to others around me and ultimately, to myself.

Yes, I’m thankful for grace. I’m also thankful that when Jesus gets done with me, sin won’t be a part of my equation anymore. I won’t ever have to live with the shame and consequences of it ever again.

That’s what I’m looking forward to. Because the absence of sin means more room in my heart for Jesus. That’s the best part of all.

Again, I believe. Help my unbelief.

 

Why I Call Myself Blessed

“One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one more thing to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say” (C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair).

Good ol’ Puddleglum. For those not familiar with Narnia, that’s the character speaking these words. And I like them.

I am currently jobless. Again. But I still consider myself blessed.

I’d rather be where I am right now with God than in my dream job, making ridiculous amounts of money, without Him.

I’ve found out this simple equation:

Me + God > Me + Everything Else – God

I don’t know if that’s grammatically or mathematically correct, but it’s right as far as I’m concerned.

I’m blessed because I have God. I’m blessed because this God promises not to give me what I need or lead me to it, but because He’s promised that HE HIMSELF will be my provision.

Even if God never did another blessed thing for me, if God never gave me another sign or another visible reminder of His prescence, He would still have been better to me that I deserve for saving my soul.

So if I wake up tomorrow and draw breath, if I get out of bed and live through the next 24 hours, I’m blessed because God is with me. If I don’t wake up tomorrow, I’m still blessed because then I’ll be with God.

I call that a win-win.