Real Scars Don’t Always Show
by Impact Church
Isaiah 52: 14b …his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men…
Galatians 6: 17. From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of The Lord Jesus.
2Cor 4: 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of The Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal body.
Penned by the prophet Isaiah many centuries before the sufferings of Christ were ever realized, these prophesies became essential confirmations to those who looked for the promised Messiah. For had it not been for the forewarned cruelties that’d be placed on the One the Father would send, few would have ever believed Jesus was the true redeemer of Israel and the world. The Jewish mind could not fathom degradation as an essential element in determining a true Leader. To the natural mind, respected governmental systems and military might were the prerequisites of any deliverer; and any thought of a national leader being subject to the detestable Romans would be inconceivable and unconscionable.
Yet, Isaiah’s prophetic words and their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus, create a new reality for all who believe. The Spirit of God used the pain, suffering, and persecution of this world to demonstrate His virtues of love, wisdom, and righteousness- not in cultures of beauty, but in environments contrary to them. In essence, the elevated and marred body of Jesus became the deepest declaration of God’s love and grace towards humanity’s sin-induced enmity. His love exceeded our hate, His kindness transcended our antagonisms, and His mercies overcame our judgments. And in His crucified body carried the marks and wounds of both worlds- from above, the height of His love; from below, the baseness of our sin. His was a willingly sacrificed life, yet sacrificed willingly upon the whimsical altars of evil, violent and earthy men.
So that His body became the quintessential battleground for good and evil. And though in His death darkness appeared to have won- in His resurrection every element of darkness- sin and death- were emphatically and eternally overcome! Simply put, His body became expendable so that, 1) the promised spiritual relationship of the Father and His children would be a reality; and 2) in His resurrection He would eclipse temporal mortality with our corresponding resurrection of immortality!
Furthermore, the Apostles also carried in their bodies the indicators of heaven’s compassion and earth’s callousness. History records in detail their testimonies; and with the exception of John, all ended with the sentence of death. And countless others who dared declare the Gospel after His resurrection, bore the marks of horrific persecution. And many others through martyrdom became heaven’s greatest ambassadors! Their faith never failed, their testimonies still inspire, their Savior still lives! And now, so does ours!
So how do we answer the bell in our generation? How do we engage with our culture without compromise? How do we penetrate the ever encroaching darkness, knowing full well the costs of being invested in heaven’s interests?
It’s possible that we’re never accosted for our faith. We may never feel the sting of swords, brunt of clenched fists, or shame of openhanded slaps. We may never feel the animus of an outside world, or sense the smug obligatory tolerance of others towards our faith. And though our bodies may never suffer violence for His Name’s sake, from our bodies lie an equally influential power to testify of His love and grace!
So maybe it’s not guillotines and prison cells that await us, but more opportunities to express Him through the sacrifice of self-will! What if we never experience what those in the Middle East are experiencing, but do experience the surrender of our rights, preferences, and self-interests so that others may see and know God’s love? For love, essentially, is the desire for another’s wellbeing at the cost of our own. You know, the Jesus kind. So that it’s not sinfulness that hinders the great work of the Church, but it’s selfishness. The type that weakens its confession, salves its conscience, and compromises its character.
So every time we forgive when it seems more plausible to wait and see if they’re sincere in their turnaround, we demonstrate a virtual Jesus.
And every time we bless and encourage those who’d love to see us fail, we once again make the Savior, not a myth, but a practical and accessible hope.
And in those times when it’d make more sense to quit on people, yet we keep praying and believing for them, the One who didn’t quit on us is magnified.
And every time we thought we’d given all, and needed a break and everybody would understand, and then grace gives us more to give; then does love prove its heavenly origin.
So it doesn’t take a public cross or lion’s den to make Jesus famous; just a Gethsemane moment or a cross bearing moment crushing our rights to us! And the Jesus evidenced in our day-to-day private deaths is just as honored and just as visible as the One we preach.
May our love for Him be measured, not so much by our words or our preaching, but by the love we extend to those who otherwise would never know Him, and in the peace we sow among those who do!