We see the story of Jesus going to the cross, and everything seems to be kind of hand in hand, and there’ this one character that seems to interrupt a little. His name is Barabbas. We don’t even know much about him, except that he’s a murderer, the leader of an insurrection and a rebel. Why he’s even mentioned - sometimes I’m not so sure. It’s like ‘This is about Jesus going to the cross..’ but no, it’s a love story.
So in this moment, pilate thinks ‘I hold the destinies of these two men in my hands. I know the Jews have a tradition that on a holy day - I will release one of the prisoners on death row.’ Pilate stands on this audacious stage who now presents Jesus, son of God - verses Barabbas the thug and rebel. And says ‘Alright, who do you want?’ This is blasphemy, this is gone too far, there’s no comparison, this is a rightful prisoner, a man who should be on death row. He is a rebel against wrong, and he is a bad man, a thug and a crook. He deserves the chains, and he deserves the crucifixion. Jesus? What has He done but heal, restore, deliver, set free, open blind eyes, and open deaf ears, heal the lame and the leper… What has Jesus done? Who do you want?’ —— We want Barabbas, give us Barabbas.
They say ‘Give us Barabbas’ and the soldiers come up and they put the key in they take his chains, and unlock Barabbas from his chains and shackles, and he walks down the platform. Welcomed by all of his thug friends. “Yeah, the people love me, the people love me. I don’t even know who this Jesus guy is, but all I know is my people love me.” There seems to be no conscience in Barabbas. There’s no record of him turning to Jesus and saying “I owe You everything now, for You have set me free.” No. You don’t see any of that in Barabbas. God knew that.
Jesus stood there silent. For He knew the will of His Father, and He said “It’s fine Father, let them have Barabbas.” For Jesus knew that the Father would have to treat Jesus like Barabbas, so He could treat Barabbas like Jesus. Barabbas thought it was the people that set him free… No, it was the love of of a heavenly Father. And when I look at the story, I realise who Barabbas really is. That’s me. That’s you. That’s us. And I felt like I was reading this the other day, and I felt God speak to me “I love Barabbas.. I love him..” And I wrestled a little ‘But God, he is a bad man..’ “I love him.. and I wanted him to go free.” ‘But didn’t you know that he probably would have never acknowledged the free gif-’ “Yeah… But I love Barabbas..”
"For while we were still sinners Christ died for us." God sent His Son for Barabbas, even the one He knew would walk away from Jesus and His free gift, and never come back… He loves Him. And the nerve, all the audacity of the believers to think "I got saved by grace, but now that I’m in this deep, dark place of bondage, I better work hard to get myself out..’ WHAT?! That’s the opposite of the gospel. Are you bound? Are you held under the power of this temptation and sin? Do you feel like it’s controlling you? What are you going to do? ‘Oh I’m going to shake and set myself free’… STOP IT. NO YOU WONT. YOU’RE NO MATCH FOR THE POWERS OF HELL, AND THE URGES OF SIN. YOU WILL NOT OVERCOME IT AND YOU’LL NEVER OVERCOME IT. YOU’LL JUST BE ANOTHER STATISTIC. There’s no answer within yourself. Your own goodness, your own discipline, your own devotion will not save you. There’s only One that can save you. and He’s the One that took your place.
He’s the one that stood on the platform with pilate and said “Yes, let them have Barabbas … Take Me.” How many times have I stood on that platform with pilate and Jesus and I’m the Barabbas. And they start to take my chains off and I say ‘NO! NO! I DESERVE THIS. I DESERVE THE GUILT, I DESERVE THE SHAME, I DESERVE THE CONSEQUENCE. I DESERVE IT.’ And Jesus seems to look at me and say “NO child, let Me have it. Let Me have your sin, let Me have your pain.” and I say ‘No God I did it to myself… I deserve it. I deserve it all.’ —- “NO!” God I’m so ashamed..He says “Give Me your shame…” But God, what if I do it again? He says “I’ll still be here…” Oh God I don’t want to hurt You, I love You, I don’t want to do this anymore.. He says “Everything will be alright, just give Me your sins…”
This is all we have, this is all I have and this is all you have. We can play games, we can play church games. We can pretend like some people are better than others, and that’s why they’re blessed. Or we can all come to the honest conclusion that it’s God, and it’s God alone. The greatest challenge is not your discipline, your devotion or your focus. Your greatest challenge is believing and living the Gospel. Could it be that there’s a God with a love so scandalous, so wide, so deep, so vast, so high, so expansive, so welcoming and so inclusive…? “Let Me have your sin, My Child.” ….. and I give Him my sin, and I stand in this empty space of forgiveness and acceptance while Jesus walks off to the cross that I deserve. I see Him, I see Him walking to the post to be whipped. As I stand a free child, all the attention is turned now; and I feel the love of God saying “Go My child, live your life! I’ll pay the price..” Where did we get off thinking that we were going to set ourselves free? It’s still Jesus, It’ll always be Jesus and it’ll never stop being the power of Jesus. His blood is sufficient for your salvation. His blood is sufficient to sustain you, through every sin, and every challenge and every temptation.
Jesus is enough.
As image-bearers of God and disciples of Christ, we each reflect aspects of His character in different ways. Christ champions our individuality, our uniqueness and our personal qualities and uses them to point people towards His kingdom. Comparing your witness and influence to that of your brothers or sisters is like comparing a telephone to a car. Of course, both are highly useful and important in life; but neither find their value in their comparison to one another, but rather, their worth comes from doing what they are created by their Maker and Authenticator to do… So don’t be defined by those around you, but be defined by Him who made you.
Have you ever caught yourself glancing (and sometimes blatantly staring) around the church on a Sunday, or prayer meetings on a Wednesday evening, or a young adults or youth camp, at the existence of pairing? Have you ever noticed yourself analysing teen crushes, comparing young adult courtships, cringing at fresh engagements and judging new and lasting marriages?
Lets be honest, we catch ourselves considering, matching and comparing our own compatibility against their connections, relationships and affiliations with one another, and second guessing our own worth.. "Why do they get this God breathed and God blessed relationship, whilst I am still single..?" — "Doesn’t God see all the good things I do for Him!?" — "Why does God hear their cry for a partner and not mine?".. "Woe is me, I am going to be single FOREVER.." Yes, we have all been there, and we have all felt the pang, the longing and the desire to be noticed by that young man or woman we have been secretly (or not so secretly) eying off in the congregation, from the very first day we laid eyes on them. But lets just sit back and breathe for a moment, and think about what all of this is doing to our personal growth and development not only in ourselves, but also in the church, and in our relationship with God.
Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t recall reading in the bible "Compare yourselves to one another, judge what I will bless your sisters with, and be jealous of your brothers wife, of your friends beauty and of her courtship." Of course, it’s so much easier to line everyone up on the boardwalk of judgement (from tallest to shortest if you wish) and pick them apart, fault by tiny fault, until there’s nothing left but skin and bone. It’s so easy to sit back in your seat and harbour bitterness towards anothers blessing, rather than betterness towards your own attitude. (I know, I know ‘betterness’ isn’t really a word.) We know we are a generation of taking the easy route, the road more often travelled, rather than keeping to the straight and narrow.
It’s easy to write, not so easy to put into practice, but upon considering young people in the church (this is those between 15 - 35) and their incessant levels of negativity and envy towards the blessings of relationships for others, I sat down and began to consider what path I traveled on, to get to the season I am in now, where I can praise my singledom, rather than purse my lips. I have considered a great many things, and have listed 10 simple steps to overcoming bitterness towards Relationships and ‘The Single Life’ (or lack there of.)
1. Let Go / Let God
Are you God, and in control, ordaining relationships and the commitments between people? No, You’re not? Then do yourself the greatest favour you ever could, and let go. Let go of feeling that you are in control (or not). Let go of believing that you are ready and the idea that somehow you are being robbed of a blessing that is rightfully and relevantly yours. Believe it or not, God has the outpouring of His blessings to you, well and truly under control. He breathed life into you, and has many seasons to come, tucked away, just for you. Let Go, and Let God. Through prayer and perseverance, honesty and surrenderance.
2. Understand Your Wants VS God’s Will
"I want ……." is not in Gods vocabulary. We are often so caught up in seeing what everyone else has and desiring it for ourselves, that we forget God is not a vending machine, spitting out prizes to us based on the worth of our prayers to Him. It’s crazy to some, and to others it’s forgotten - but it’s important to remind yourself, that His ways are higher than ours, and His thoughts are higher than ours. Whilst we are sitting at home watching soppy love movies, texting our friends and believing we are ready for a relationship - God may very well have other things in mind. Remember you are dealing with your Father, who adores and cherishes you, not in an earthly fashion, but in a Heavenly and sacred fashion - and in His storehouse, are pure blessings which you will see. Transfer selfish into selfless, “God, let your will be done and let your timing be prevalent in my life.”
3. See The Bigger Picture
Perhaps you’re studying, working full time, you’re going to school, you’re traveling, you’re looking for work, you’ve just started a new ministry or you’re just coming back to Him fully, and remembering what it’s like to have intimacy with Christ. Regardless of who you are, or where you are in your walk with God - there is a bigger picture that in the midst of our "I want" stage, we may not be able (or willing) to see clearly. This is a great time to consider (if you haven’t got one already) inviting a mature mentor into your life. An older male / female (same sex as yourself) in your Church and regular Christian life who can maintain your accountability, and assist you through times of ‘zone focus’ where all you see is what you want, (or what you’re not getting). If you are struggling to see the bigger picture, and understand why you don’t have something, and someone else does - seek wise counsel.
4. Bite Your Tongue And Clear Your Mind
Jealousy, anger, frustration, judgement, criticism, gossip and slander. We are all guilty of each and every one of these things. Not one of us holds a "get out of jail free" card in this instance, and overcoming bitterness is a proactive choice which is relevant to the entire body. Ask yourself in regards to your attitude in your every day life
A. Do my words reflect a Christlike attitude
B. Do my thoughts reflect a Christlike attitude
C. Do my actions reflect a Christlike attitude
If your answer is anything but yes, (we can all use some improving) then be proactive in choosing to consciously make an effort to change this. Be real with your support networks, with your friends, with your family, and your mentors and pastors. Be real and ask to be held responsible for your words, thoughts and actions. Allow others the permission in your life, to call you out when they note you being bitter, gossiping or judging. Keeping your network clued in is a great way to keep you on your toes. It’s easy to sit in your own negativity, when no one else knows how great your battle is.
5. Get The Right Idea
Many people consider ‘single season’ as a ‘waiting period’, like it’s a season you’re in where you’re just kind of sitting around, hoping for the next season to quickly come along and blow your single one out of the water, and sweep you off your feet on the back of a white horse into that lovely land of relationships, marriage and children. (Insert long groan here) NO. Your time of being single is not a waiting period, it’s not a ‘half-way-there’ season, and it’s definitely not a time where you should be sitting back and coasting your way through, waiting it out. Your season of being single is just as great a blessing as your season of finding a relationship will be. (if this is Gods will for your life). I have heard every cliché under the sun about “in Gods perfect timing” etc. Let me tell you, Gods perfect timing to challenge you, grow you, develop you and anoint you, is now. It’s every day. Focusing on your ‘single status’ is doing nothing more than hindering the great adventures that God has set aside for you in this season. Get the right idea, you are not disabled, you are anointed; take this time where you are considering yourself and God to
A. Learn about yourself and your relationship with God
B. Develop your character
C. Embrace solo adventures and opportunities
D. Grow, grow and grow some more
E. Serve others, the church and your community
F. Build solid and God honouring friendships with members of the opposite sex
G. Solidify your foundations of who you are in Him
6. Value ‘Alone Time’ and ‘Quiet Time’
Moses, David, Elijah, Mary and Jesus are all examples from His word of why and how spending time alone in His presence is not only healthy, but it is beneficial and productive. It is often in the quiet and stillness of His presence that you hear His voice clearly without question. It is all well and good to excite and hype your way through conferences, services and camps with hundreds of others throwing their arms in the air and praising Him - You know you feel God in situations like that, and you know His presence is there. But when you go home, and you fall to your knees, or you sit silently, do you feel Him? Alone time, silent time, without speaking, praying, humming, singing or any worship music — just pure, alone, time. It is in moments like this that God can reveal the very depths of His heart and desire for you, and heal your emotional needs. Valuing alone time allows you to sit and be real, vulnerable and open to His leading; often alone time can see great transformations of attitudes and hearts.
7. Ignore The humanised ‘Social Norm’ and ‘Church Standards’.
Someone is always going to have an opinion on you, on your life, on your relationship status, on where you are going, what you are doing, and who is doing it with you. Humans are conditioned to have misplaced and unconsidered opinions. We are also conditioned with emotions - and when these two conditions collide, we find our self worth dropping, and it seems we’re the only one left, we are the only single person in the world, we are the only lonely one, we are the only one without a boyfriend or girlfriend to worship beside us on a sunday, or come to prayer meetings with. Looking through the word, there are people who received blessings at incredibly young ages; such as Gideon, Isaac, Samuel, Joseph and Daniel. Sure, they were kings, they had incredible encounters with God at young ages; now I am sure people would have looked upon them prior to these commitments they made, and their willingness to serve God and would label or judge them. But remaining in the faith, and ignoring the humanised standard, allowed these young men in the bible to rise up and demolish pre-conceived ideas. Humanised standards are what cause us to lack hope, to lose faith and to doubt ourselves. But thankfully, we do not compare ourselves to others, but to the author and perfecter of our faith, Jesus Christ.
8. Be Content With Who You Are
You are on a journey towards loving yourself. Not one of us could raise our hand and state that we are 100% satisfied with who we are, and how we look, or sound, or seem. Rather than focusing on relationships of others, focus on your relationship with yourself. Fall in love with the lines on your face as you smile with joy, and the way your hair falls naturally after you brush it. Embrace the way your skin develops freckles in the sun, and how it seems one arm is longer than the other, or one eye opens more than its partner. The reality is, we are all our own physical form of God’s idea of perfection. We exist in His knitting, His planning, His sewing and His creating all from the depths of His heart and love for us; in which we were formed. Learn and take time to develop an unrequited love for the things you’ve always claimed to hate, and embrace the woman or man that you are.
9. Celebrate Relationships And Connections
When you feel a sense of bitterness or jealousy arise within you, pray. It’s simple. Pray, pray and pray again. Pray for love, peace, and that God would assist you in altering your mind set. For every negative moment you have towards a relationship, a couple, or perhaps even someone who questions you about your relationship life, such as aunties and uncles who attend every family function and without fail raise the point “OH YOU’RE NOT STILL SINGLE, ARE YOU? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?” - For every moment, every phrase, every judgement. Write, draw, text, call or give face to face encouragement. For every negative emotion, find a positive point regarding them, individually or together. Train yourself to focus on kindness and love, rather than envy and jealousy. Through constant reminding and a conscious decision to celebrate relationships and connections, you will find yourself being less of a ‘hater’ and more of a ‘celebrator’.
10. Find Comfort and Be Content In God
It is okay to break down, to get emotional, to have enough, to plead with God and to just plain and simply throw a tantrum. It’s okay to struggle, it’s okay to fall, it’s okay to be jealous and it’s okay to feel frustration. But, it is not okay to stand in that, dwell in that and live in that. It is not okay to make this a ‘normal’ occurrence, and it’s not okay to allow your emotions and your personal situation to dictate who you are and who you become. Until you find complete solace and comfort in God, and until He is all you need, and all you require to get by; you will find yourself searching and seeking for something that does not exist. Until you rest in Him, find yourself completed in Him in every way, and find your heart safely stored within His hands, you will find yourself struggling to see the joy in others relationships, let alone, your own. Finding yourself to be content in God is a journey you need to allow yourself to travel along a road you need to walk, and it will require sacrifice, time and time again, until you are found with nothing personally, but are relying on Him for everything.
So find yourself and your satisfaction in Him. Trust your heart and your emotions into His hands. Ask for help and let those around you support you. Keep yourself accountable. Love yourself and love others. Find comfort and solace in Him. Take time to be alone. Be quiet in Him. Ignore standards and social ‘norms’. But most importantly, remember… You are not defined by your thoughts or your relationship status; but by The King who loves you, without question.
Jacinta / hope-movement.tumblr.com