Don’t You Dare Give Up

(Today’s post by Adam Cooper)

Zechariah 3 and 4

Don’t you Dare Give Up: Full Disclosure and Filthy Rags

dontevergiveupIn the interest of full disclosure I must say that every time I sit down to write my post for The New Normal I am always challenged. What do I want my voice to be in what I write? I struggle between being open and conversational or rigid and educational. At times I feel that I even come off a little as the angry preacher on the street corner trying to beat a thought into someone’s head by calling them out in front of the world. My heart is not the latter. Some of my best posts, at least as far as I am concerned, were those when I felt the Spirit led me to write certain things on a particular topic; I didn’t have to think about it too hard, it just flowed. With some posts however, I struggle to write something that is meaningful.

When you think about it there lies the crux of the problem, “I” try to write something meaningful. How can I be so proud to think that I can write anything meaningful about the most meaningful Word that has ever been written? And, who should it be meaningful for? Me? You?

I must say that I enjoyed Marc’s post from yesterday and his thoughts on Spiritual discomfort. I always enjoy Marc’s openness and willingness to put himself out there, in all of his struggle and learned wisdom, to simply say what he has to say. His transparency is refreshing when it comes to an honest appraisal of what God is trying to tell us.

When I looked at the imagery within Zechariah 3 it was like looking into a mirror. Joshua is an image of myself and every other believer I know. We came before God in filthy rags, being accused by Satan, and God re-clothed us and rebuked Satan through His son Jesus Christ. What filth did you throw off when you stepped into the Lord’s presence? As men in today’s society I know that struggles with pornography and inappropriate thoughts and images are constantly trying to drag us into the depths of depravity; the acceptance of inappropriate lifestyles is also eating through the moral fiber that God has established; and, the worldly focus on obtaining the BBD (bigger better deal) has caused numerous men to pursue money as a crushing idol of excess. Zechariah 4 then continues to lay out hope for those who have been re-clothed. Although on the surface you see lampstands and olive trees when you look into the cracks and crevices you see the Holy Spirit (signified through the oil in the lamps) bringing light to all through the church and eventually the Jewish people. We also see the olive trees of Joshua and Zerubbabel as the chosen ones to lead this reinstatement of the temple and God’s chosen people at this point in their history. Although I fail to see any prophetic undertones in them unless God is telling us about the two witnesses that are seen in Revelation.

So let’s lay this out straight – in this rudimentary finger painting of prophecy we see Christ (the branch) who has re-clothed us, washed us in His blood through His substitutionary atonement on the cross. We see Satan rebuked as Christ died and then conquered death claiming victory over the evil one once and for all. We see the Holy Spirit filling those who would believe in Christ who subsequently shine light into the darkness of this world. And finally we see the ultimate reconciliation of the Jewish people.

Yet, in spite of all this, we still struggle daily to walk with Christ.

I personally thank God for that struggle. What I mean by this is that if it were easy we would not appreciate it; I was always raised that if you had to work for something you would take better care of it. I have to work every day to keep my eyes focused on the cross and I find that the longer I successfully fight the dual sides of humanity and faith the easier it gets at times.

I had the pleasure of doing a funeral this week for a man that lived his life the way Christ would have lived among us. However, he was never a fan of “organized religion”. The more funerals I do, the more I hear this comment and unfortunately it speaks to the disconnect between the church and the people it needs to be reaching. What is clear when I hear these words is that this person was most likely hurt by “organized religion” at some point in their life. And what is bad is that many of us have also been hurt by that same “organized religion” at some point in our lives. That is probably why we are not still at the first church we ever attended. Given the Good News that we as believers have knowledge of we have to figure out how we can handle this disconnect. How can we step away from “organized religion” and into the type of relational Christianity Christ endorsed? I guess if we could answer that question we would be revolutionaries. Prophets like Zechariah talked of Christ long before He ever came on the scene and we are still fighting some of the same struggles his people were. The good news though….we are still trying! Keep trying. Everyday. Never give up!

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