An Empty Promise
The world we live in today is a very suspicious place. We are told over and over again that: “if it sounds to good to be true, then it probably isn’t true.”
Our own experience goes a long way in reinforcing this concept. We see products advertised that seem wonderful, and lay our money down in great expectation, only to find that we’ve been had.
We buy food that has a nice picture on the package of someone appearing to really enjoy eating it. But when we taste it ourselves, it’s obvious that it wasn’t savoring we saw on their face…it was shock.
And it isn’t just deceptive advertising that gets us, it’s our interactions with those around us as well. People say they will do this or that for you…but fail to deliver.
The expression “If you want something done right, do it yourself” is true more often than it should be. Nobody seems to care as much about you or for you as you do yourself. We are so accustomed to “empty promises,” that they no longer fail to surprise us.
The world is full of empty promises, and we have learned to be on guard for them whenever we deal with people. But when God is in the picture, it’s a different matter.
The Bible tells us that GOD’s ways are different than ours (Isaiah 55:8)
and what a blessing this is to all of us. The observance of Easter is one of those special occasions that really brings the difference into sharp focus, because when we celebrate the resurrection, instead of being disappointed by promises full of emptiness, we are encouraged by emptiness that is full of promise.
The resurrection of Christ is the great hope of the Christian faith, but the empty tomb is not the only empty promise of that first resurrection day. There is the promise of an empty life…empty of self…empty of sin…and also…and most importantly… empty of condemnation.
An empty life… Jesus set a good example of what it means to live an empty life, and we are to follow in His footsteps. In the Bible, in the first verse of John chapter 1 we read that :
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.” And, by the way, that is God with a capital “G”.
Now, to be GOD is to be everything. There is nothing higher…or grander…or more powerful. God is in control. He could force His will on anything or anybody, and yet He has given us free will. He allows us to decide for ourselves if we want anything to do with Him.
If we talk about a ruler, a king perhaps… a ruler who shows tolerance and good will towards his subjects…that ruler is said to be benevolent. They are said to have a good perspective, a good attitude. It’s frequently said that in life, attitude is everything. That’s probably reaching a little too far, but attitude is certainly important.
In Philippians chapter two, the Bible tells us that our attitude about ourselves should be the kind that was shown to us by Jesus Christ, who, though he was God, did not cling to his rights as God. Instead, Hw willingly humbled Himself. He laid aside His mighty power and glory. He gave up His divine privileges, and took on the nature of a servant, becoming like other men. He experienced what we experience. He knew hunger and thirst, he became weary and grieved for those around Him.
The Bible tells us that He humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die on a cross to pay a debt He didn’t owe, crucified as a rejected outcast between two common thieves. And He did this NOT because He had to…but because He WANTED to. He did this for us…out of love. The life of Christ was empty of self. He gave of Himself for others, and by this He showed us that real life comes through sacrifice.
If we follow Jesus, if we obey His teachings, we will find that we entered a life of emptiness. We will discover that we have emptied ourselves of ourselves and assumed the role of a servant, just as Jesus did. In addition, when we allow His love to fill our hearts, we get a bonus in that we are emptied of having to account for the penalty of sin.
With Christ as our Savior, we have a promise that we are at peace with God because we are sinless in His eyes. This doesn’t mean that we don’t sin, or won’t sin. It means that the blood of Christ has saved us from the penalty of sin because by His sacrifice on that miserable cross, He has redeemed us. Retribution has been made in full, and because of that, we have a promise of eternal life…that a resurrection day awaits us as well…a day when we too have the promise of God Almighty that our tomb will be empty.