The idea that the Father forsook Jesus on the cross is based on the premise that God is too holy to look upon sin. Based on that premise it follows that when Jesus took the sin of the world upon Himself the Father could no longer be with Him. If we take a closer look at the scriptures, I believe we will find that the cross does not reveal the Father forsaking Jesus, but actually the complete opposite! Jesus trusts that His Father is with Him through the entire ordeal on the cross, even when He is blind to His presence. The cross is about the presence of the Father and the trust of Jesus, not the Father leaving His son! This speaks volumes about the nature and character of God and has the capacity to revolutionize our faith. Let's begin unwrapping this together.
"Jesus replied, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds (John 12:23-24)."
Jesus, preparing to go to Jerusalem, knew that He was going to His death. In John 10:18 we see Jesus claiming that the Father had given him authority to not only lay down his own life, but to take it up again! Jesus knew He was sent to die on behalf of humanity and in this verse we see that He was collaborating with His Father. They were united together with determined purpose.
"Now is the time for judgement on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself (John 12:31-32)."
The Father, Son, and Spirit, united in their love for humanity, were determined to drive out the devil and reconcile all people to themselves. It is important to note that Jesus repeatedly spoke to the fact that the Father was with Him, that they were in this together, because it sets us up to gain a new understanding about what happened between Jesus and the Father on the cross. On numerous occasion throughout the scriptures, particularly in the Gospel of John, Jesus reiterates the fact that He is with the Father and that He only does was He saw His Father doing. Jesus walked out His entire life on earth trusting in His Father presence, trusting that He was not alone, even when abandoned by everyone else!
"A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me (Matthew 16:32)."
As another example, look at Jesus' prayer in the garden before He was betrayed.
"That all of them maybe one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one - I in them and you in me so that they may be brought to complete unity (John 17:20-23)."
Knowing that His Father is with Him as He moved towards is death is of the ultimate importance to Jesus. 'The Father is with me' Jesus declares over and over again, 'I do nothing of my own initiative (John 8:28).' Those who met Jesus could see that God had sent Him, was empowering Him, and even that he was with Him. But that isn't what bothered them, no it was the fact that Jesus claimed to be one with the Father!? Now that was scandalous!
"The Jewish leaders insisted, 'We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God (John 19:7).'"
Now knowing that intimacy and union with the Father was paramount to Jesus life and message we can now approach the big question. What happened on the cross? Was Jesus trust proven false? Was God with Jesus the whole time up to the one point He needed Him most? If God never leaves Jesus, then why did He say, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"
The first thing we need to realize is that Jesus was quoting Psalm 22! The bible wasn't divided into chapters and verses back then like it is today. In order to reference a portion of scripture, teachers would state the first line! Today we have the Top 40 songs of 2016, and many people will recognize those songs just by hearing the opening chords. In the same way there were certain Messianic scriptures in that day that would have made the 'Top List'. Many Jewish people would have recognized and even memorized these texts pointing to the Messiah. Psalm 22, a song in itself, would have more than likely made this 'Top List'. So when Jesus spoke out on the cross, 'My God my God...' Psalm 22 would have started to run through many of the Jewish people's minds. Whether Jesus knew He was fulfilling the scriptures by saying this, or if He was just expressing how He was feeling, we need to follow along with the Psalm in order to understand what is going on.
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest (1-2)."
The beginning of the Psalm seems to confirm the fact that God left Jesus on the cross, but as in all good songs, it's important to listen through to the end.
"All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. 'He trusts in the Lord,' they say, 'let the Lord rescue him, let him deliver him, since he delights in him (7-8)."
It would be easy at this point for Jesus to stop trusting, to lose faith, and this is exactly what people mock him for. Despite their jeers, and the evidence clearly stacked against Him that God was not there, Jesus continues to trust His Father.
"Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother's breast. From birth I was cast on you; from my mother's womb you have been my God. Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help (9-11)."
The Psalm goes on to explicitly reference how His hands and feet were pierced, how he was beaten to the point where his bones showed, and how people cast lots for his clothes (16-18). It is astonishing How God spoke through David so accurately of events that wouldn't happen for hundreds of years. Yet what is even more astonishing is the faithfulness of Jesus and how He continually trusts His Father.
"But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen (19-21)."
Here we reach the crux of the matter (crux, do you see what I did there?). Did the Father heed His cry? Was He far from Him, did He choose not to deliver Him? The answer we find at the end of the Psalm.
"I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. You who fear the Lord, praise Him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor Him! Revere Him, all you descendants of Israel! For He has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from Him, but has listened to His cry for help (22-24)."
The amazing thing about the cross isn't that the Father turned His back on Jesus, but that Jesus being blind to the presence of His father because He took our sins into His body, still trusted in His Father's presence until the last moment!
"Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' When He had said this, He breathed His last (Luke 23:46)."
Or as Peter wrote in one of his letters,
"When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23)."
It is very possible that the people watching Jesus die would have moved right on from Psalm 22 to 23.
"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me (Psalm 23:4)."
The truth is, God has never forsaken His people, and He never forsook His son! As David wrote He is the good shepherd that is with us. He has always pursued us, always been near to us, and always desired connection. Throughout the scriptures we see God relating with stubborn, obstinate, and sinful people. Sin didn't cause God to pull away from us, but it caused us to pull away from Him. We were the ones who hid in the bushes out of shame, it has always been God seeking and pursuing us.
"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior (Colossians 1:21)."
Jesus didn't need to complete God's side of the relationship. God has always been for us. It was our side of the relationship that needed to be fulfilled! He fulfilled the law, He lived a perfect life, and took all our pain, shame, and blindness into Himself while still trusting the Father. He related to the Father for us, never losing His trust as we did. Jesus didn't run and hide in the bushes out of shame, but even while experiencing our alienation, pain, and shame, He trusted God and looked Him straight in the face!
"'Where, o death, is your victory? Where, o death, is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)."
The scriptures don't reveal a God that cannot relate to us because of our sin, but that we cannot relate to God because of our sin. Jesus came down, took our sin, and still related fully to the Father. He lived the righteous relationship with the Father that we couldn't live. He did it not just for us but as us!
"God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21)."
Jesus takes our sin upon Himself, embraces our alienation, our blindness, our hurt, and our confusion. He experiences the loneliness we feel, the separation we experience from our side of the equation with God, and yet never stopped trusting Him. The cross is not where Jesus changes the Father but where He changes us! The Father did not forsake Jesus, but together with Jesus met us in our darkness! Jesus wasn't doing something the Father couldn't, but the Father, Son, and Spirit were united in their purpose to reach us in our darkness!
"All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)."
Wow, what good news! What an amazing God! "Therefore be reconciled" the scriptures say. Accept it, live in it, stop living in animosity to God. We have no excuse to live at odds with Him, thinking that He is far removed from us, or blaming Him for not coming through. God does not hate you, he isn't holding your sins against you, He has come down to meet us and embrace us!
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)."
We can confidently trust the promise that, 'He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:10).' There is a scholarly debate that is ongoing, but in the bible when it says 'faith in Jesus', it can actually be translated as the 'faith of Jesus?' Jesus is sharing the love, union, and trust He has with the Father inside of our darkness. His faithfulness is what counts, His trust, and His love. He wants us to know the love of the Father the same way that He does.
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39)."
Jesus went to the depths of our delusion. He died, and yet He was never separated from the love of God. He is the light shining in the darkness. That same love is shared with us, and we can begin to have the same trust in the Father's goodness and presence that Jesus has. When we doubt, when we are afraid, when we feel distant and separate from God, we place our trust in Jesus. Trusting Him to share with us His faith, the love He knows, the confidence He feels with His Father. We fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our trust.
"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-21)."
Saturday, September 3, 2016
We tend to project our experience of justice, revenge, and anger onto the face of God. His wrath, we decide, must look and feel like our wrath. His justice must be carried out of the constructs of right and wrong that we have personally adopted. In so doing we have blinded ourselves to the goodness of God, and painted Him as a schizophrenic deity that sometimes loves and sometimes hates. God's wrath is other centered, while ours is self-centered. His justice is carried out with love for every individual, while our justice is retributive towards those we hate. Our anger generally revolves around personal or ideological offense; 'how dare they!' It therefore revolves around hate towards individuals or groups, and our sense of justice is rooted in our objectification of others. God is very unlike us in this way. He is love, therefore His wrath and justice need to be understood as an expression of His passionate desire for our freedom and benefit. He is for us, not against us.
Imagine a parent whose 20 year old daughter is kidnapped and abused. She is rescued, but is broken on the inside. Fear, shame, and depression have taken over a once free and joyful spirit. They love their daughter, and desperately want the best for her. They would naturally be very angry at the abuser for what was stolen from her. Their wrath is relational, and it is easy to see that it is birthed from the love they have for their daughter. God’s wrath is relational too, and we need to see that. Real wrath is a passionate expression of love. Yet even the parent’s wrath for their daughters pain fails to fully encapsulate what God’ wrath is all about.
Wrath is the expression of love in the face of injustice. Love requires relationship. In our example, the parent’s anger is sourced in the close relationship they have with their daughter. Have you ever noticed how we tend to care less about atrocity, injustice, and suffering the further away it is from those we love? If tragedy strikes home however, if abuse, murder, or rape happens to one of our ‘special people’, wrath is the natural expression.
God is love, and unlike us He loves everyone and is intimately involved and invested in each person He has created. God not only grieves for the daughter of the parents, but for the abuser; both are his children. He knows all our pain, brokenness, and negative influences. He knows our choices, our lies, our shame, and our hurt. He knows mine, yours, Mother Teresa’s, and Hitler’s, while loving us all! God’s wrath doesn’t exist when He is close to one person and removed from another. His wrath exists while loving everyone equally!
We call for justice based on our understanding of what is good and bad. We generally have a scale in our conscience by which we judge certain individuals as ‘deserving’ of punishment. This understanding we project onto God too. God is not into score keeping. He isn’t interested in a person’s punishment but a person’s freedom. His justice, like His wrath, needs to be understood with the starting fact that He loves us all.
Let’s go back to our story. The young woman is broken, shackled by the shame of what happened to her, she has fallen into depression. Her parents love her, and constantly give of themselves to help her in every way we can think of. The love they have for her slams against the shame she feels inside, torturing her to the point that she runs away from it. She leaves the safety of her loving parents and tries to fill her deep pain with drugs and meaningless sex.
Do her parents stop loving her? Do they begin to hate her for the choices she makes? How many bad choices, how many people does she need to hurt before her parents being to hate her? Is she now deserving of retributive wrath? Of course not, she is their daughter! This makes perfect sense to us. We would never hate our children, even if they were destroying their lives and hurting others in the process. But, for some ridiculous reason we think that we love better than God does. We think God has a score card, and that eventually He will disown us for crossing the line too many times. We think that God’s ‘justice’ overrides His ‘love’. But they do not need to be mutually exclusive, we just need to stop projecting our sense of justice onto God.
It seems obvious to us that a loving parent wouldn’t stop loving their child because of mistakes they were making, even if they were catastrophic. They might create boundaries to protect themselves and other people, but they would still love them and yearn for their child to see themselves as they see them. Everyone is someone’s son or daughter, even those that are hurting others. God, well, He created everyone! We are blind to what God's justice looks like because we have the unfortunate capacity to love some people more than others. God loves everyone equally, and so for Him ‘justice’ looks and is carried out differently than we think.
In this scenario we actually experience what God experiences when it comes to wrath. Loving parents would hate the destructive choices their daughter was making, they would have great wrath towards both the internal and external influences in her life that are destroying her. The wrath is an expression of their love, but for her and the ones she was hurting. They would do anything to destroy the internal and external forces that were destroying her. This is how God feels towards all of us. His wrath is other centered, it is love expressed in the face of our hurt and pain. God’s wrathful love is not against us but for us!
God’s wrath is expressed while attributing equal value to every individual. He knows each person, He knows the hurts, the biases, the wounds, and the mistakes. Knowing all these things, his love is a passionate fire against anything that destroys and abuses his children. He isn’t for some people and against others, but truly the lover of the human race. Just as we would separate an abuser from being able to continually cause suffering to others, so God will ultimately separate destructive people who don’t change their ways. God will not tolerate any hurt in His Kingdom, but He isn’t doing so out of vengeance but out of love. Even those he sends away, He loves and values. His wrath is not like ours.
We have imagined God to be someone He isn’t, and we need our minds renewed in this area. The more we think like God the more we will be able to see through a lens of love. God’s wrath is not moralistic, it is not about keeping tabs, and it is not against anyone. God is love, and He loves you, me, and every human being we will ever encounter.
Just like the good Father He is, God saw the pain we were in and did the unthinkable to reach us. He saw the destructive tendencies we had adopted, the wounds, shame, and depression that ruled over all His children. In our darkness and blindness we ran from His love, because it hurt too much to be in it. We fled, hid in the bushes, and embraced a life that results in death. We would not let Him come near, we convinced ourselves we were hated by God, projecting our brokenness onto Him; yet God was not deterred. He entered our darkness, stepped into our blindness, becoming Human He came to reach us because we could do nothing to reach Him.
Jesus came to us even though we did not want Him, even though we could not see Him. He entered our lives and brought us face to face with His loving Father; we could not bear it. In our shame and hurt, we could not recognize Him as God, so we killed Him. Jesus willfully took our shame, our hurt, and our anger into Himself. He submitted to our darkness and let us crucify Him. It was there that He swallowed death, united Himself to us in our blindness, and birthed new life. There is nowhere we can flee from His presence, no piece of us that He does not already know, sin and death were defeated in His resurrection!
There is nothing we can do to stop Him loving us. We can either surrender to His love, embrace Him, and therefore letting go of all our shame and hurt, or we can sit in the agony that comes in resisting it. We can embrace a life of destructing we were never created for, and in the end, in love, God will not allow us to hurt our brothers and sisters. He will send us away, where there surely will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Jesus invites us to turn to Him today. To accept His forgiveness, to release our shame, our pain, and our hate. He is at work even now revealing Himself to us, inviting us, encouraging us, and loving us into His kingdom. We can let go and become who He purposed us to be, or we can struggle against Him, the one who is the very source all life and goodness.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
It’s the age old question, the heart cry of disappointment, the confusion after unmet expectations, the frustration when facing injustice; what is the meaning of life? Answers to this seem to be as innumerable as sand on the sea shore. People around the globe wonder why we are here, what our purpose is, and what brings fulfillment to life. These deep longings pull at our hearts and lead us to find answers in religion and philosophy. The disappointment and failure to fulfill these longings lead us to search for success, self-actualization, competitive victory, or ideological confidence. Many decide that life’s meaning is subjective, relative, and individually defined. What do we learn from Jesus about why we are here? Can we find in Him an answer that is relevant to our hearts desire? I think so.
The desire for fulfillment is a powerful longing; and although it is where we all begin, it is actually a misguided pursuit. Desiring fulfillment begins with the belief that there is a moment when we will arrive, achieve, or come to find what our heart longs for. We don’t realize that in the seeking we actually fall further from what we are looking for.
For the Jew in Jesus’ day there were basically 2 groups of people, the Jews and the Gentiles. These 2 groups saw and pursued the meaning of life very differently, and Jesus brings revelation that is contrary to both.
The Gentiles were the non-Jewish folk, the Romans, Greeks, and other ‘pagans’. Each culture had different religions, practices, and worldviews. It would be impossible to sum up any of these groups without huge generalizations, so for the sake of time and cohesive writing I will make an enormous generalization, these people were what we now label as ‘worldly’. It’s the idea that in the pursuit to fulfill the longing of their hearts, individuals are free to seek that out as they see fit. Maybe fulfillment is in achieving social status, finding glory in battle, or just seeking the most pleasurable thing to do in the moment.
We carry this mindset in our world today. Happiness is something we pursue, it is something to be obtained, something that we actually have the power to go get. “Go after your dreams.” “Do what makes you happy.” We look for fulfillment from a self-centered perspective. What do I need to do in order to ‘arrive’ at my destination? Our subjective understanding of the ‘meaning of life’ puts us on a hamster wheel of perpetual striving. If I just get that car, get that wife, get that degree, become this sort of person, or do something important enough. There are an infinite number of ways this searching manifests in our lives, but they all have something in common. We have a goal, a vision, or a dream for our lives. These goals are driven by our dissatisfaction with present circumstances, and we think that if we can change something about them, or about ourselves, then the satisfaction will finally be ours.
This ‘pursuit of happiness’ is the root of comparison, bullying, gossiping, and ultimately living in a controlling and manipulating fashion. The desire to make something of ourselves only exists where we believe that fulfillment is found through personal success. This all leads us to be very self-centered since our primary goal is our happiness. We might even try helping others as a way to find personal satisfaction, but it still puts the cart before the horse. Somehow we need to be fulfilled so that our approach to life isn’t in the seeking but in the enjoying. I think the answer is in Jesus but let’s move on to our second group of people, the Jews.
It might seem like the Jews should be different then their ‘gentile’ counterparts, but what drives the Jew is exactly the same unfulfilled desires compounded by the lie that something, or in this case, someone can bring them to a place of ultimate satisfaction. You see, the Jews believed that life was about being ‘God’s people’, about honoring and serving God, and being in right relationship with Him. They were, after all, God’s people, chosen in Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. They lived their lives, more or less, trying to do what was right in God’s eyes. They wanted to honor Him, to serve Him, and to be at peace with Him. Written into their theology was the idea that wealth, health, and freedom were blessings that God gave when someone was in right relationship to Him. Those who were sick, poor, or enslaved must have sinned or offended God in some way.
The Pharisees, who were the Jewish religious leaders, saw their Roman oppression as God’s punishment. In the hopes of being free from Rome and being established as a ruling Kingdom once again, the Pharisees dedicated their lives to getting people to turn back to right relationship with God by obeying dietary, ritual, and moral laws.
The issue here with the Jews is that their pursuit of fulfillment ultimately still revolved around themselves. They wanted to be ‘blessed’ by God, and in order to do so, they served Him how they were taught they ‘should’ serve Him. Should is a dangerous word when talking about being fulfilled. Jews made sacrifices to please God, celebrating certain holiday’s to honor God, and worshipped to glorify God. Yet they did so with the hope that God would look favorably upon them and bring them into more prosperous and comfortable circumstances that would ultimately be more fulfilling. So the Jews served God with the hope that He would intervene in their circumstances, which would in turn fulfill their hearts longing.
Jesus, born a Jew, was very unlike His people. He was such a contradiction to the Jewish approach to life and God that they ultimately rejected Him, crucifying Him as an enemy of God and ‘His people’ (John 1:11).
He was crucified for saying things like, "blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God (Luke 6:20).” Jesus is giving value to the poor. What a scandalous declaration to people who deeply desired to be a Kingdom on the earth and who believed riches were a reward from God.
In a similar way, Jesus contradicts the Jewish way of life while talking to a rich young ruler, who would have been respected and looked up to by the Jewish people as being ‘blessed’ by God. “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24)."
Where the Pharisees focused on outward actions, Jesus pointed to the intentions of the heart. "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean (Matthew 23:27).”
The most scandalous things Jesus said to the Jews is found in Matthew 11:27 where he says that no one knows the father but the son! He even goes so far to say that when they have seen Him they have seen the Father, because He and the Father are one! One of the main reasons Jesus was killed was because of His claim to be God.
These statements that Jesus makes are astounding, and what He is doing is absolutely revolutionary. He came to reveal who God actually is, which is also the revelation of who we are and what life is all about. Jesus reveals that God is relational, that He shares a certain kind of life within Himself. The Father, Son, and Spirit share a life of love, encouragement, delight, and creativity. Their fulfillment is sourced entirely in their relationship to one another. Jesus came to Earth, into the darkness of our delusion, and invited us to participate in the life that He has with the Father; the life we were created by, for, and in!
Paul, a former Pharisee, was so transformed by Jesus that He wrote to one of the first group of believers saying, “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Matthew 4:11-13).” That last verse is far from being a statement to achieve personal goals, Paul experienced a fulfillment that transcended his circumstances, and was able to declare something that completely contradicted the Pharisees worldview. He was content even when sick and poor. He didn’t need to ‘arrive’ or ‘get to’ a place where His life had meaning. He had found the secret, and the secret has a name, it is Jesus.
Happiness for Jesus wasn’t about becoming but being. In Jesus fulfillment isn’t gained by finding our value in personal achievement, but grounded in the fact that personal value is established before achievement ever becomes recognized as a way to earn it. Revolutionary isn’t it?
The pursuit of happiness fails, because living for personal fulfillment goes against the grain of how we were designed. It is an empty exercise in futility. We were created to know we are loved, not to live trying to be loved. Fulfillment doesn’t exist when our circumstances align to meet our expectations, but arrives when we have eyes to see the goodness and opportunity in every circumstance regardless of our expectations. Life is about this beautiful dance of the Father, Son, and Spirit that we get to participate in! It is something we can enjoy now, no matter where we are in life. Life is about the journey, the discovery, the wonder, the beauty, the joy of living in the love of Jesus. Life becomes death when we live for those things rather than from them.
Where the world clings, strains, and strives, Jesus let’s go, submits, and rests. Where the world looks to identify themselves by how others see them, Jesus identifies Himself by how the Father sees Him. Where the world tries to find ways to glorify the self, Jesus considers Himself nothing and glorifies the Father. Jesus promotes a way of living that is both contrary to religious and secular worldviews. Meaning isn’t achieved it is recognized, relationships aren’t meant to be used but celebrated, God doesn’t need to be placated He wants to be enjoyed!
When we see the meaning of life through the eyes of Jesus, our character matters more than our circumstances, our relationships are more important than our achievements, and every minute of life is filled with wonder, opportunity, and purpose. Jesus came to bring life in abundance by saving us from our perpetual fear and striving. He is the way, the truth, and the life; in whom we live, move, and have our being! In Him we have fulfillment, rest, and purpose. Jesus is the meaning of life!