April 17, 2006
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank

Dear Marketplace Friend,

So, what does it mean... to you?

In case you came in late, let me fill you in on a critically-important fact: life is a series of paradoxes. If you don't realize that, you can get really messed-up trying to follow the story line.

Cheri and I are approaching our 35th anniversary. We've had to reinvent our relationship a few times over 3.5 decades of marriage. What does that mean? Well, for one thing, regarding our occasional "tiffs" (that's what Christian leaders call their fights), we've had to update our lingo to keep up with the times. Here's a line she uses on me occasionally (which, by the way, tosses high-test on my fire): "Bob, this isn't about you." Baby. When she says that... it becomes about me. This isn't about you. Look out...

She didn't make that up; she picked that up, from the culture around us. People in America - circa 21st Century - had to use that reminder in their relational interactivity, with increasing frequency. It is a powerful and important reminder that needs to be inserted into misdirected mayhem whenever called for: this is not about you. People can come to some dangerous edges with other people if they miss that factoid. This is not about you...

That's true, often... but, probably not true, at the same time. There's one of those crazy paradoxes poppin' up. Paradox: an argument that apparently derives self-contradictory conclusions by valid deduction from acceptable premise (Webster). It wasn't about you when it started... but, it became about you because of the ripple effect. It didn't used to be about you, but - now - it is about you, but it probably isn't just about you. Confused yet? Did I mention that relationships aren't easy?

That thought rattled around in my mind this morning (Easter) while listening to a well-intended speaker at an Easter morning event (not my church, so I had no "comment card" opportunity!). Here was the line that caught me: "Jesus would have come and died on that cross... if you had been the only person God ever created." And your verse-of-reference for that declaration is ... what?

My Law & Order training came bubbling up; in my mind, I stood at the attorney's table and addressed the Judge. "Objection: argues facts not in evidence. He's stating conclusions that can't be determined based on the evidence." When there were two people ever created (Adam and Eve), Jesus didn't come and die on the cross for them, then. But, the Heavenly Father pronounced a cryptic curse on the snake that would be fulfilled by the Lord Jesus, generations later: "He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel" (Genesis 3:15b). Until Cain and Abel were born, Adam and Eve were the "only people ever created"... and Easter didn't happen (yet)...

The line - "if you were the only..." - sets well with modern, "it's all about me" Americanos... but, it's one of those pesky paradoxes. He didn't do it for just me; he did it for billions who were - and, are - dying from the curse of sin that infects their (our) souls. Yet, at the same time... it IS all about me. He DID die for just me. He DID have me - my face, my story, my sins, my soul, my potential, my life - in mind as he hung on that cross that day, as he came out of that tomb three days later. He DID have me in mind... but, he didn't have just me in mind. It's a paradox: he died just for me, but he DIDN'T die just for me. Say what?

He died just for me... so I need to do the polite thing, and respond to him on a personal level. When I come to understand that "just for me" element, my response - repentance, surrender, redemption - is right. After coming to life through faith, my "just for me" gratitude needs to define my life; especially with him.

But, he DIDN'T do it "just for me." He did it for everybody else, too, individually, and collectively. Meaning, what? Meaning, I have no right hoarding the benefits of Calvary for myself. The Savior says, "whosoever"... and he means it. Is it all about me? Well, yes... and no. It's all about me, between me and him. Then, it's all about them, between him and me: "For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again" (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). It's about him.

Bob Shank

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