When comedy troupe Monty Python used those words so many years ago, I doubt they knew the full irony of the statement. For those who are not familiar with the Pythons, “and now for something completely different” is used to transition between one absurd comedy sketch to another. However, as a culture that encounters films that promotes sin, our Savior’s name has become a curse word and musicians sing the same lonely anthem; we live in an age where King Solomon’s wise saying, “there is nothing new under the sun” is painfully true.
Solomon has a very accurate view of our world today; however, there is something “completely different” that has changed the lives of people around the world and throughout history. It is a true story that has been called a fable. Some have tried to change the story to fit their own perceived wants and needs, while others have ignored it completely. However, it still holds the power to mend the hearts of the broken and to humble the proud. It consoles us when we have bad days and also when we have good ones.
I find it sad that many people that I encounter talk about it but have lost sight of its true importance. By now the curtain has been lifted and we see a couple of pieces of lumber held together by steel nails. Upon further inspection there is a stain of what looks like blood. Behind the blood soaked lumber there is a tomb. Upon entering its chamber, we see a burial garment which at first glance resembles an unmade bed.
I know these images might not be new, and the story of God’s Son taking on flesh, coming to this earth, befriending sinners, dying and coming back to life for them is one we have all heard before. Nevertheless, I am convinced that it impacts our lives on a daily basis, whether we are conscious of it or not. I realized this a few days before Easter when I went to the store to restock my pantry. Everywhere I looked there were chocolate bunnies, plastic eggs and over sized pastel baskets full of “stuff.” It further bothered me that some Christians have taken Christ and commercialized him into pop culture trinkets and cute things. While I don’t think these are necessarily bad in and of themselves, I do think trouble arises when they cause us to forget the main source of what we’re discussing or thinking about.
Our new life found in Christ affects everything we do and say. Yet, if we turn the gospel into a fairy tale or a ten-step program for better living, we’ve changed the story that we were never the author of. We are all in need of a reminder, because as Herman Melville put it, “…Presbyterians and Pagans alike – for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.” It’s comforting to know that the only way to obtain salvation is through the Son of God who lived as a carpenter, who healed the sick, walked on water and when he died, he didn’t stay dead. The implications of this are immense as we continue to live our lives in the light of Jesus’ work on our behalf.
May our cry in this life be in agreement with the author of this prayer (from The Valley of Vision):
The Life Look
I bless thee for the happy moment when I first saw thy law fulfilled in Christ,
wrath appeased, death destroyed, sin forgiven, my soul saved.
Ever since, Thou hast been faithful to me,
daily I have proven the power of Jesus’ blood,
daily I have known the strength of the Spirit, my teacher, director, sanctifier.
I want no other rock to build upon than that I have,
desire no other hope than that of Gospel truth,
need no other look than that which gazes on the cross.
Forgive me if I have tried to add anything to the one foundation,
if I have unconsciously relied upon my self knowledge, experience, deeds,
and not seen them as filthy rags,
if I have attempted to complete what is perfect in Christ;
May my cry be always, only Jesus! Only Jesus!
In him is freedom from condemnation,
fullness in his righteousness,
eternal vitality in his given life,
indissoluble union in fellowship with him;
In him I have all that I can hold;
enlarge me to take in more.
If I backslide, let me like Peter weep bitterly and return to him;
If I am tempted, and have no wit, give me strength enough to trust him;
If I am weak, may I faint upon the bosom of eternal love;
If in extremity, let me feel that he can deliver me;
If driven to the verge of hope and to the pit of despair, grant me grace to fall into his arms.
O God, hear me, do for me more than I ask, think, or dream.”
Each day should point us back to the life and work of Christ as we may encounter things that are “completely different.” Let us not forget that our faith is “something completely different” in the eyes of the world. Everything that has happened and will happen on this earth revolves around Christ living, dying, crushing the grave and returning to make all things new!