September 19, 2020

Everest or Calvary?

By: John Freedman, North Pacific Union Gleaner

To the question, What is the most difficult mountain to climb, Everest or Calvary? I’d have to say Mount Calvary stands out as the most difficult mountain to climb, not just in the world but in the universe. Only one person ever conquered that mountain: Jesus Christ.  

As it has been for many people, the mountain climb in my world has been very challenging this year. COVID-19 has affected our family, causing intense emotional pain. The pain has driven me to my knees. The pandemic and the shift away from face-to-face ministry have given me pause to consider the ways I love and relate to other people. 

I’ve realized that, when it comes to reaching others, I have much to learn. God’s love for humans is so much greater than my own. This painful truth has driven me to Calvary, to reflect again on the victory of Jesus over death, pain, sickness, suffering, and heartache.

Jesus’ path to Calvary required Him to humble Himself. The Son of God became a lowly human in order to help you and me begin to understand God’s true character. The pure Lamb of God, the One who never sinned, became sin for us. It cost Him His life. The selfless love, determination, commitment, humility, strength, and courage needed to climb Calvary’s mountain was so great that we will be talking about it for all eternity.

What was it about God’s character that Jesus came to reveal? A story in the Old Testament illuminates the answer. Moses asks God, “Show me your glory.” God then reveals His character, saying, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Ex. 34:6, 7, NKJV). 

As I think about this in light of our Great Commission, Jesus gives us a road map for effective evangelism during the pandemic. He was selfless, compassionate, kind, loving, truthful, and always seeking to glorify His Father.

This small reflection on Jesus always blesses my soul. It shows the attitude I am called to have toward God’s children, regardless of whether someone is a fellow member or not. In this issue, we’re looking at ways we can more effectively foster a culture of sharing God’s love.

As a church we’re facing challenging times in light of COVID-19. Many churches are closed today, and members are asking, “How do we find the way forward?”

When asked, “How can we know the way?” Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6, NKJV).

The way forward is to follow Jesus. Love as He loves. Serve as He serves. Reflect on His life. Talk about His accomplishments and what He has done for us. Ask for the Holy Spirit, who guides us to the truth about Jesus. Read the living Word of God and gaze on the One who is full of grace and truth. Make Jesus the focus of life.

During the Last Supper, Jesus said, “Love another; as I have loved you, … love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34, 35, NKJV). A life worth living is one where we love Him who first loved us and have love for one another. The only life worth living is a life centered in and surrendered to Jesus.

Ironically, the climb up Calvary begins with us falling down. When we fall on our knees as beggars, confessing our sin and our great need of a Savior, God will go to work. We can hold tightly, with confidence, to the only One who can save us — Jesus. His victory becomes our victory. When our heart is emptied of self-reliance, the Holy Spirit fills the void with Christ’s divinity. The Holy Spirit imparts the life of Christ in us, empowering us to love with a God-sized love. When the world sees that, they will know we are His followers by our love.

The original version of this commentary was posted by the North Pacific Union Gleaner.