Monday, 8 September 2014

It is Finished

Is there some accomplishment or deed in your life that you are particularly proud of?

Completion of a difficult task can be immensely satisfying. While there is certainly joy to be found in the journey, it is often interspersed with hardships, which can sometimes make you question whether the struggle is worth it. But when you see them in the light of the end result, then you may realise that there is no aspect of your journey that you would give up - if only because they make the completion that much more rewarding.

"Completion" is actually a remarkably powerful word, and perhaps one that we do not give enough credit. It speaks of both the fulfilment of our labour and the cessation of our struggles, and brings them together in a word that takes the good and the bad, and makes them into something better.

But there is a catch.

The problem is that true completion is unattainable in our lives. The most monumental accomplishments or stunning works of art all have one fatal flaw. No matter how permanent they may seem in one, two, or even twenty generations, they all need to be maintained. Whether it's physical or emotional, social or personal, all of our achievements need to be preserved somehow. Sometimes the effort required may be so minuscule that we don't even notice, but sometimes it may take all of our effort to keep what we created. The struggle will continue in some form for as long as we live.

The sad fact is that completion is an illusion. A tempting, yet ephemeral concept beyond human grasp.

At least... that's almost true.

Both the unattainability and the allure of completion point to something greater. The glorious truth is that we were never meant to reach fulfilment in this world, nor were we intended to reach it through our own efforts. We are shattered souls in a broken world, doomed to fall short - but Jesus has won the battle for us. No matter how much we strive to something infinitely beyond us, or how much we fall, we are given the comfort that our ultimate completion and fulfilment is the gift of grace, imputed to us without deserving. To seek satisfaction in this life is to condemn ourselves to a fight that we could never win, but that burden has been lifted.

It is in knowing this that true comfort is found. A bleak landscape of hardships is transformed into a path to something greater. The ups and downs of life fade away in significance before the one true 'I Am' - the maker of all that is and the source of all that is good. Though there are still struggles ahead, and we may not know where this path will take us in our journey, this is made insignificant compared to the joy that is to come. Everything we do can be done in the knowledge that the battle is won, and so we are even given a taste of this victory in our present lives.

Do not be content with the pale, temporary achievements of the world. We are made to be satisfied with nothing less than eternity, and this has already been given to us.

"After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." (John 19:28-30)

This is our triumph, granted by grace.

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." (Colossians 3:1-4)