Welcome back! I hope you had an hope filled weekend!
If you noticed we skipped a day, you are correct! I am the advent slacker….pressing on.
If you would like a recap of last week, I highly recommend visiting Ann Voskamp’s, A Holy Experience and watch her video. Good stuff.
Today’s Reading: Genesis 28:12-16
And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
The delightful game of Candy Land has brought about many award winning meltdowns in our home: including…but not limited to, boards being slung across the room, people body slammed to floor and other bizarre behaviors that seem unnatural.
Its all fun and games until someone gets hurt.
There is one game that doesn’t cause my competitive children to go crazy and that is the game of Chutes and Ladders. In this game the little cardboard cutout kids have to climb up the ladders to the 100th square to achieve the status as the winner. How do the players progress? Well… of course you have to do more good than bad. If you are really good and take out the trash, be gentle with the kitty cat, help clean the dishes, and share your toys, then you get to climb up the ladder.
However, if you are a bad kid and steal a cookie out of the cookie jar, accidentally knock over a glass of milk, or break your mom’s vase from anthropology…. Well…. then you will be get an opportunity to try harder next time by starting from the beginning.
“oh…you thought you were winning….that is cute…maybe you should have try harder next time.”
I started to get this weird feeling as we played.
Being the nerd that I am and having my PhD in Google studies, I quickly learned that the game of Chutes and Ladders is an ancient Indian board game, originally known as “Snake and Ladders” or Ladder to Salvation.
Emphasizing the role of Karma (our actions decide our fate). Actions precede our rewards.
The ladders represent virtues such as generosity, faith, and humility, while the snakes, represent vices, such as lust, anger, murder, and theft. The morality lesson of the game is that a person can attain salvation through doing good, whereas by doing evil one will inherit rebirth to lower forms of life.
Basically you better be good little girls or you will come back to the earth as a pig and end up as a nice slab of bacon!
This is the way most people think about salvation.
If at the end of my life I have done more good than bad…I win. If I climb the ladder of goodness, I earn Gods love. Gods love can never be earned, it can only be received.
Our culture tells us: Be strong, work hard, pull yourself up by the bootstraps, God helps those who help themselves. Really? God turns it all upside down. He helps those who can’t help themselves.
Jesus “had it together” perfectly for 33 years, because He knew that we couldn’t. When Jesus was a child, he always shared his toys because he knew we wouldn’t. In class, Jesus never cheater on a test because he knew one day we would. He never yelled at his parents even when they said stupid things and even when he knew more than they did (oh because he was God). He always chose obedience.
Then, He shed his blood for our pride, grumbling, discontentment, lying, doubt, anger, and our goodness.
When it came to perfection, Christ nailed it and then he was nailed to a tree for our sin. His life was wrung out til the very last drop.
He paid out debt in full, so that we could taste the fullness of Joy.
Won’t you rest in His love and stop trying to climb the ladder of goodness? Even our best days are not good enough. You will never be enough BUT God is more than enough.
When we live in a chutes and ladders type mentality, It’s all about performance.
Unlike Chutes and Ladder Religions of the world, Jesus does not say work your way up to me, instead He walked down the ladder and carries us up to be with him.
Jesus never said to “fix yourself,” on the cross he said it is finished. What does that mean for you today…It is finished?
In what ways do we attempt to climb ladders into Gods favor?