Our Great, High Priest

When I was a little boy, the one thing I wanted most in the world was to be a big, strong man.  While there are many reasons one has for such a desire, the premiere one was that I could then do what I wanted to do.

The thing I hated most about school was the constant reminder that I was not a man.  Nothing did this more poignantly than the need to request permission to go to the bathroom.  Oh, the granduer of just being able to rise from one’s seat and go relieve himself without first abasing himself before an adult in two significant ways: 1.  I have to pee.  My body requires of me this obedience, and should I not respond correctly, I will eventually be covered in my own waste.  2.  You can tell me “no”.

Are you serious?!

Weakness is the antithesis of greatness.  There are no grand statues of our leaders throughout history holding themselves while dancing due to their need to pee.  It, in fact, seems disrespectful to even mention it.  Greatness is strength.  Greatness is not asking permission.  Greatness is doing, not submitting.

…and yet, Jesus is our Great, High Priest precisely because of his choosing our weaknesses, limitations and position.  In fact, he didn’t just choose to be a human but to serve to the ultimate extent of the expression of our limitations – he died…naked…in front of everyone…until his own weakness meant he couldn’t breathe anymore, and so he strangled to death due to his own body’s frailty.  Remember the pleading of Jesus for a drink?  Remember those in power telling him “no” in so many ways?  No, you aren’t worthy of the title Son of Man.  No, you are not our long-awaited Messiah.  No, you aren’t in control, and we’ll prove it by killing you after torturing and humiliating you.

And this is what makes Him great.  No, I am not lessening his perpetual divinity, nor his miraculous healing of others, nor any of the other “great” things he said/did.

What makes Him great is that Jesus understands our pain, our suffering, our weakness, our temptations.  He gets it.

He also defeated them.  Not in physical prowess, but in spiritual submission to the Father.  Nothing could make Him deny the Father’s will for His life, nothing!  The Apostle Paul knew this same truth when he said, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

We often pray for God to make our lives easier.  Oh, that the Church would begin again to pray “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven”, and in this, show Christ’s victory to the world.  The indomitable will of the submitted servant.  “You can kill me, but you can’t make me deny my LORD!!!!”  May my brothers and sisters in the Middle East, Asia and Africa be strong in the midst of their weakness, and may we be inspired by their example of following Jesus.

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Average Isn’t Normal

“Going above and beyond the call  of duty” are words that ring in every man’s soul…and they should.  There is something majestic, dare I say, divine about a man who does more, gives more, strives more, is more.  There is something about these men that challenges the rest of us; but interestingly not to be anything other than the best “us” we can be.

The problem is that we seem to be striving to be average instead…and failing even in that.

Here’s what I mean, the average man should consume approximately 2800 calories a day.  The average man should have a waistline that is half his height.  The average man should exercise 3-4 times a week.  The average man isn’t normal.

Normal is overweight, out-of-shape, overfed and undernourished, preoccupied with entertainment and disinterested in their own job/family/faith.  We eat the box of hot wings…all by ourselves.  We squat 200 lbs. but only when we get out of our lay-z-boy recliner.  We buy our wives flowers…to say we’re sorry.  I read recently that the average American video gamer plays 18 hours of video games per week. (according to http://www.onlineeducation.net/videogame)  A week!  That’s an extra part-time job for crying out loud!

Great deeds are never accomplished by average men.  Greatness is only achieved by great sacrifice, and only great men are willing to sacrifice greatly.  Average men sacrifice somewhat.  The normal man – as little as possible.

Here’s the thing…each of us is capable of being great!  Of being in great shape, of being a great dad, of being a great husband, of being a great Christian.  Of being a great man.

You can do this!  You can be a great you, you just have to put down the video game remote, the box of hot-wings, get out of your La-Z-Boy and stop settling.  Stop making excuses.  Start striving…but not for average, average gets lost in a crowd; and not for normal – normal is the crowd.  Great men lead the crowds.