"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Monday, April 4, 2011

Different Perspectives -- Same Answer

One of the staples of Lent for me is John Piper's book The Passion of Jesus Christ. Previously, the book was entitled 50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die, and that is exactly what the book is about. (Mrs. Harrison, my high school English teacher would die that I just ended a sentence with a preposition, but it just didn't fit the correct way.) This book walks me through this season of reflection like none other as each day's reading begins, "Christ suffered and died..." and then offers 50 reasons why. Day 1's reason: To Absorb the Wrath of God. Day 19: To Give Eternal Life to All Who believe on Him. Day 22: To Bring Us to God. Day 41: To Secure Our Resurrection from the Dead. And thus each day offers another reason, with heavily supported Scripture. It is nothing short of rich reading. I love absorbing each day's "reason," thinking about it through the day and worshiping Christ for His absolute right to be worshiped.

This past weekend, I picked up yet another book to add to my collection: Heaven is for Real. I had heard about it via an email I had received the week prior that had an attachment of a news segment interviewing the author and its subject. The little boy's name is Colton Burpo, and he has been to heaven and back. It was a fascinating account and so when I saw the book, I picked it up. It probably took all of an hour and a half to read, but nothing has offered my mind such play about heaven since I read Randy Alcorn's book several years ago entitled just that: Heaven.

Colton's dad, Todd Burpo, along with Lynn Vincent, wrote this fascinating story after Colton suffered a severe case of appendicitis that left him quite literally at death's door. What is so absolutely warming about this story is the simple way Colton expresses incident after incident of his time in heaven. He tells of seeing his great-grandfather, who had died a quarter of century before Colton had even been born; of meeting a sister who had died in her mother's womb, again before Colton's birth; and even of sitting in Jesus' lap. While I always read such accounts with caution, I have no reason to disqualify any of what is written within these pages.

At one point in the book, Todd Burpo, a pastor himself, writes about a conversation he had with Colton and his older sister Cassie on a Good Friday. He simply asked the question, "Do you know what Good Friday is?" Colton said he didn't know, but his sister emphatically and excitedly answered, "That's the day Jesus died on the cross." Moving to the next question, he asked, "Do you know why Jesus died on the cross?" When Cassie couldn't come up with an answer, Colton nodded he knew. "Okay, why?" asked his father. "Well, Jesus told me he died on the cross so we could go see his Dad."

Here's how Todd Burpo relates the rest of the story. "In my mind's eye, I saw Jesus, with Colton on his lap, brushing past all the seminary degrees, knocking down theological treatises stacked high as skyscrapers, and boiling down fancy words like propitiation and soteriology to something a child could understand: 'I had to die on the cross so that people on earth could come see my Dad.' Colton's answer to my question was the simplest and sweetest declaration of the gospel I had ever heard. I thought again about the difference between grown-up and childlike faith."

And so, while each morning between now and Easter, I will continue to pick up Piper's book and read yet another reason Jesus came to die, and yes, even be blessed by it, the most profound reason has already been uttered -- by a 4 year old: "He died on the cross so we could go see His Dad."

Christ also suffered once for sins,
the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God.
1 Peter 3:18

Hear the invitation ... and come.

Just an ordinary moment...

"The gospel of Christ is the good news that at the cost of His Son's life, God has done everything necessary to enthrall us with what will make us eternally and ever-increasingly happy, namely, Himself."
--John Piper

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