Oh, can’t you see such sin?!
The world is sleeping in the dark,
That the church just can’t fight,
’cause it’s asleep in the light!
How can you be so dead?!
When you’ve been so well fed
Jesus rose from the grave,
You can’t even get out of bed!
Oh, Jesus rose from the dead!
Come on, get out of your bed!
Keith Green – Asleep in the Light
On Easter I posted “He is Risen” and a few scriptures on Facebook, because it was Easter and Easter is awesome. Of course someone had to comment that He didn’t rise from the dead just so we could enjoy our comfortable lifestyles and do nothing. Buzzkill!
So when did the resurrection become an example we are supposed to follow as a moral imperative? Is that really the gospel message – “Jesus rose from the dead so you ought to get busy!” When Jesus rose from the dead, it wasn’t because of the heroic efforts of the disciples! They were cowering away in fear hidden away behind locked doors. In fact He had told them He was going to raise on the third day quite explicitly, and they didn’t believe a word of it. He had to come and miraculously find them and get through the locked doors. And they were shocked that He did.
I always loved Keith Green, but let’s face it. This mindset is all about trying to condemn and browbeat and coerce people in a heavy-handed way into obedience, and it never works. It isn’t really the message of Easter. The message of Easter is that nothing, not the most carefully planned murderous schemes of the most evil men in places of power and influence, not locked doors, not our own faithlessness and sin, can stop the love of God for us. He is supernaturally persistent. Certainly your laziness is not going to keep God away.
The Supernatural Persistence of God
5 And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? 8 I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.
In context, Jesus goes on to promise that whoever seeks will find, and whoever knocks will have the door opened. Well, what is the message of the resurrection? Who was doing the seeking and the knocking? Who was the persistent one? The gospel is this: while we are asleep in the light, God seeks us. God knocks. God has the door opened to Him. Astonishingly, the one He seeks is us! The law demands that we seek God, but the gospel declares that God seeks us! Death can’t even stop Him! We are so distracted, so sinful, so fearful, and so bad at persistence. We never seek with enough genuine fervor. We have not really striven to find God or obey Him (Hebrews 12:4, 1 John 1:10). But even death can’t distract Jesus Christ.
How Does Jesus Interpret the Resurrection?
So when He came to the disciples after the resurrection, as they were locked away in a room, how did Jesus interpret His own resurrection to them?
19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
He declared peace. He restored them to mission (“I also send you.”) He blessed them with the Holy Spirit. And, He entrusted them with forgiveness. None of these sound like “I rose from the dead, so get out of your comfortable lifestyle and get busy!” It was more about affirming that they were still His guys, and still entrusted with His mission, which they truly believed they had forfeited. The resurrection is a powerful and supernatural demonstration of one-way love. He did not rebuke them, He sought them out and forgave them!
And that is the message of God to you today. Wherever in your secret heart and mind you are cowering away in a locked room, God comes to you of His own initiative with a shocking mercy, not just to forgive you while disqualifying you from your calling. He says, “I also send you.” He says, “You’re still my girl! You’re still my guy!” At your lowest point of obvious failure, He comes and breathes the Holy Spirit for you to receive. He forgives you! And when the lights come on for you, that if you fall asleep in the light, He will come and awake You of His own accord, and declare peace and forgiveness and affirming mission to you, you will rise up like the disciples with gladness and tell the world that you have been FORGIVEN. Because that is the message of the resurrection, and we dare not steal His message and twist His deeds to our own self-saving ends.
Getting serious when you cant even give Keith Green a break!
Paul Ellis was talking about Keith a while back about this very thing. He said he admitted he also wasn’t doing things he wanted to do like reading a certain amount of chapters of the Bible. He apparently changed his tone later on. Here’s the link if you’d like to read it: http://escapetoreality.org/2010/07/28/keith-greens-grace-awakening/
I was being a little tongue in cheek in my response. I love how Jim uncovers subtle but popular distortions of the God of the Gospel….no matter who they are…thanks for the link.
Thanks for the comments guys!!!
For the record, I have been a huge Keith Green fan for many years. As a musician, of course he was hugely influential. As with everyone, Keith Green is not Jesus. Neither was Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Amy Carmichael or Hudson Taylor or George Mueller or C.T. Studd. Their lives stand as an example which condemns, which is the big difference. Jesus’ perfection stands as a propitiation – because He is my savior, not just my example. His resurrection is not a stick to beat me with to show how lazy and lifeless I am. His resurrection is a show of unbreakable persistent love that will never ever quit towards me. That is good news for all of us, including Keith Green, the extremely zealous imperfect firebrand musician.
In some ways I am grateful that my life does not stand as an example which condemns. I am a humble member of a small fellowship of sinners, who are together redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus. I don’t want to be a prophet or a rock star or an author or whatever. People don’t need any of that. We all need a savior. We need perfect love, and I can’t provide that. Only Jesus can provide it. Amen.
Great article. I have a similar journey and am glad that somebody led him to a fuller understanding of the grace of the gospel…..
I have never looked at seeking and knocking as God being the one seeking.. i think religion has this twisted all the more. thanks
I love Keith too. I was glad to read that Paul Ellis said he became more grace oriented towards the end of his life. And I dont think his revelation of God is as big as we receive now. Last days. Gods pouring out His spirit more. We are the Benjamin generation. In genesis. Ben received 5 times the blessing He was the youngest son. More grace and revelation than Keith’s generation maybe had.