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Live Redemptively: Finding Joy in a Life Lived for Others

Posted by Wayne Johnson on

The Bible Chapel’s Journey to the Cross event is just around the corner. During Easter week we set up several rooms to depict the events that took place on the days leading up to Christ’s death and resurrection. I have slowly and reflectively participated in this journey every year for the past six years, and each time, God has spoken to me in a unique way as I’ve reflected on Christ’s life and sacrifice.

Last year was no exception. As I spent time praying in the solemnly-themed rooms, I was struck by the realization that Jesus came to the world for the sake of others – this was the purpose for which he lived his life. We see this theme throughout Scripture; “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you” (Luke 2:11). Even as a 12-year-old boy, he could be found in the temple preparing for the life God had for him (Luke 2:49). His teaching, his miracles, his caring for others, and even his private time with the Father all worked together to fulfill his call to live for others. No verse better summarizes Jesus’ life and purpose than Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

I have known this about Jesus for a long, long time, but on this day I was moved to measure my life up against Jesus’ life. Suddenly, I became aware of how selfishly I live my life. I don’t think too many people think of me as a selfish person, but privately I know that I can get concerned about how I am feeling in certain circumstances. How am I measuring up? I will retreat into my feelings at times. Sometimes, I am caught up in wishing my career had done this or that, or I want to do this or that with my time. I can get concerned about personal fulfillment.

The bottom line is that I was awakened to the reality of how me-centered I live my life in contrast to how others-centered Jesus lived his life.

Every day, from the time he woke up to the time he rested for the night, whatever Jesus did, he did for the sake of others. This doesn’t mean that Jesus never took a day off or recreated in some ways – we don’t know what he did with all of his time. But we do know that his focus in life was on the redemption of others. He “gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager (zealous, really) to do what is good.” (Titus 2:14). Colossians 1:13-14 states, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Wow! What an act to follow. Can I follow Christ’s example in living redemptively for others?  Every day, I meet people who are in need of forgiveness of their sin. Every day, I interact with others who struggle because of the corrupting effects of sin on their relationship with God. Either they are not believers, or they are, but sin has wreaked havoc on their emotions, relationships, and behaviors. There is no shortage of opportunities for me to live my life redemptively. Humanity’s most fundamental need is for forgiveness that only God gives and deliverance from the effects sin has on our lives. This is what Jesus gave himself for and dedicated himself to 24/7. That day at Journey to the Cross, God said to me, “I would like you to be more intentional in following Jesus’ example of living your life redemptively.”

I have a long way to go and know I will never arrive at the level of Jesus’ life.  But I know this is God’s will, and he will help me grow in this area.  There is not a better way I can live my life before God or before others.

On my desk sits a framed prayer that I’ve gradually composed over the past 15 years or so, but it is just 11 lines long.  It reflects what God has done in my life and what I wish to be true in my walk with and service to God.  Last year I added another line:

“May I live my life redemptively for others.”

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