Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sept: 26th-Shelter but not as we know it

Guest blogger, Stan Nussbaum, takes us on a journey through the messianic year calendar.

Welcome to the journey of our Messiah through the year with Dr. Hussbaum.

“You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit that will last . . .” Jn. 16:15 (NLT)

Next to forgiveness, shelter is probably the seasonal theme in the Messianic Year that is most commonly talked about. When cancer strikes, when layoffs come, when death takes those we love, we turn for shelter to Jesus as the Good Shepherd and the Holy Spirit as the Comforter, and well we should. We also encourage others in difficulty to choose Jesus as their best option for dealing with whatever life has thrown at them. Sound familiar? Sound right?

Perhaps, but we have to reconcile this emphasis on shelter-seeking (Mt. 11:28) with Jn. 16:15, “You didn’t choose me. I chose you.” It is oh so easy to get those two choices turned around. If we choose Jesus as “Mr. Shelter,” the one who can best shelter us from hardship in the present and hell in the future, our focus will be on why we chose him (to provide shelter for us) instead of why he chose us (to go on his mission with him).

Isn’t that what we see all too often in our churches today, people who have a very strong sense of their need for shelter and a very weak sense of their mission? It’s as if our shelter is the main reason for a relationship with Jesus while our mission is an add-on that we may eventually get around to. Shelter is for baby Christians. Mission is for the mature.

This is a colossal mix-up. The Messiah says in this same verse, “I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit that will last . . .” This means mission is for everybody he chose, and it starts on day one. Jesus’ choice of us, like everything else he did or said, revolved around his messianic mission of bringing all the blessings of the Messianic Year into the world. When he moves into our lives, he therefore does not sit down within us to make us as cozy as he can. He calls us to get up and join him in a fruit-bearing mission.

As soon as we do, we start drawing flak. We need shelter that we didn’t need before, and this is the kind of “shelter” we are talking about during the Season of Shelter. It is shelter from the difficulties of the messianic pilgrimage, following the Messiah through life to Life. It is the same kind of shelter the Israelites needed only because they too were on the move as God led.

The Season of Shelter is about “shouldering our cross.” (Mt. 16:24, NLT) Like our Messiah we are not sheltered from the cross but during the cross, that is, while we are shouldering it. More than any other trait but love, endurance became the trademark of the Messiah’s followers, symbolized in the cross. The Messiah wins by faithfully enduring, then being given the victory by God. (Heb. 12:2)

The world’s opposition to us is the cross re-enacted in miniature in our personal worlds. The world is only picking up where it left off at Calvary, but the world cannot win. It does not have the tools either to defeat the Messiah in us or knock the Messiah out of us. All the world can do is beat on us, and beat it will. We are going to need the Messiah’s strength and shelter. In the next seven weeks we will see what messianic shelter means and how it works.

Welcome: Thank you, Jesus, for choosing to move into my life and to take me along as part of your movement. Welcome! Let’s go!

Affirmation: Where Jesus is, safety is. I can never really be unsheltered when I am with him on his mission, and I can never really be sheltered when I am not.



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