Here is the big idea, the Life Rhythm we focus on during Life Season:
God is a Life-giver, the Source of everything we see--our bodies, our planet, our universe.
God loves life, and he loves to give it. To him the universe is like a flower garden or a playground. He is creative, and he is good to the core. He loves to promote life in all its forms, and he sets himself up against anything that demeans, reduces, or destroys what he has created.
The Bible is more about life in this world than it is about religion and the afterlife. The biblical story is much more about how to live in this world than how to prepare for the next one.
Here is the other half of the big idea of Life Season:
What God creates, he owns, so any anti-life action is trespassing on his property, messing up his good intentions for it.
The world as we see it today is obviously messed up. The forces of death are doing their worst, and they seem to be getting away with a lot of it. Why doesn't God step up and deal with them? Why doesn't he throw out all those trespassers, those abusers, those liars and cheats who are ruining life for so many people?
He does have a strategy for that, but it is not yet time for that iron-fisted final solution yet. Our job is to grasp what his strategy is for the meantime, and SYNC with him in it.
Bottom line of the big idea:
We "see ourselves in Christ" as life-bringers, carriers of the water of life, making life better for everybody.
In SYNC with Jesus, we are connected to life itself. "The one who has the Son [Jesus], has life. The one who does not have the Son does not have life." (1 John 5.12)
When you SYNC (See Yourself iN Christ) as a life-bringer, you realize you are participating in the life-giving, life-healing, life-restoring work of Christ. That is your cause. You are caught up in it, energized by it, and delighted every time you have even a small success.
Our role as life-bringers, carrying the water of life
Jesus Christ is the center of God's entire strategy to bring life to the world and to make that life permanent and good. If we see ourselves in Christ, we see that we are receiving his life, and we will never run out of it. He gives us surplus life, plenty to share with others who need it. Then we become life-bringers.
Of course, God gives life to everybody directly too. He makes his rain fall on the good people and the bad ones alike. (Matthew 5.45) But life is hard sometimes. We all get banged up to some degree as we go along. And sometimes we chase something for a long time, assuming it will make us feel really alive, but when we finally get it, it lets us down.
We feel worn out, half dead. We want somebody to listen to us, to care about our story, to stick with us, and stick up for us.
If we see ourselves in Christ, we are able to bring life to half dead people because we have time to listen to them, and Christ helps us care about what they tell us. We are not as locked into our own careers, our own families, our own pleasures and pastimes as we used to be. We are not looking to them as the things that make us feel really alive any more.
What we really enjoy at a deep level and find significance in is bringing life to others. We look for chances to do that, and we usually don't have to look very far.
Of course, not everybody wants help, and we don't have to force water down anyone's throat. Our job is only to offer it as appealingly as we can. Part of the appeal is that we are drinking the same water we are offering. We keep refilling our lives with Christ, the water that quenches our thirst for life.
Some people have the idea of God as a scorekeeper, tracking our good deeds and our evil deeds. He is way more helpful than that! He has already given life to everybody who is alive, and he has sent millions of messengers like us to make sure everyone has a chance to become truly alive in Christ and truly blessed in many ways by people who are in SYNC with Christ.
When you SYNC (see yourself in Christ), you also see Christ inside you. He is your life, and you don't have to chase life any more. You can relax, enjoy it, and share it because you already have it inside as a gift.
The big idea vs the Big Lie
If we get the big idea of Life Season, it protects us from the Big Lie--
"Life is about self-fulfillment, personal achievement, self-indulgence, and/or acquisition."
This lie has some truth to it. Life on earth is supposed to be good and joyful. We each should have some personal significance in the grand scheme of things, a destiny that is the full blossoming of all the gifts we were born with.
But the lie generates all kinds of internal conflicts and insecurities. It forces us to chase our dreams as hard as we can, and we discover that is a lot harder than it sounds because some dreams conflict with others.
The husband wants to be a good husband but he also finds the seductive woman very seductive. He is seriously conflicted. The wife wants to be a great mom but also wants to be at the top of her profession, and she keeps running out of time for both. Both feel trapped and frustrated, and they feel bad about feeling that way.
Neither one has the slightest suspicion that their conflict and their feeling are the natural, logical results of approaching life as if there is no Creator. If the universe is an unexplained mix of matter and energy bouncing around according to its nature, then it has no built-in meaning or significance. We have to create our own significance by achievement, in spite of the odds stacked heavily against us.
In contrast, according to the big idea of Life Season, we do not have to carry that burden. Instead we get our significance handed to us as a gift! This is a created world, and we have been pre-wired to live a fulfilled life as we contribute to it in whatever way the Creator intended.
The point of life is not to achieve but to SYNC, to fit in with the Creator's good intentions for us. How we relate to him is more important than what we achieve. We get fulfilled through our connection with him.
To SYNC with God's strategy is the greatest privilege of life. The person who understands that understands what authentic life is--life that is true to our created purpose, life that brings life to others.
Holidays and the big idea
New Years Day, January 1, 2020
New Year's Eve was the day we got to the end of the biblical story, anticipating and celebrating the return of Christ as King of the world. New Year's Day is the day we go back to the beginning when God created everything. Genesis 1.1.
As the first day of the year, this is the day when the SYNC Bible readings include Genesis 1 and John 1--God creating the world. Great time for a party. The Rose Parade has astonishing colors, all natural colors of flowers and plants.
In the SYNC cycle, this is not a day for making resolutions about what we are going to do. It is a day for celebrating what God already did. If we are going to think about resolutions at all, we can focus on God's resolutions, since he keeps his.
In fact, the whole annual cycle of SYNC can be seen as God keeping his resolutions, strategically working out his plan on his timetable. Nobody can block or frustrate his plan, no matter how hard they resolve to do it and what lengths they go to. Even when they executed Jesus, he found a way to weave their opposition into his plan to make it even more amazing.
New Year's Day is a time to celebrate how magnificently God made the world how fantastic it will become once he has carried out all his resolutions about it. Good as new, or even better!
Epiphany, January 6, 2020
The American Thanksgiving Day is the fall harvest festival, celebrated with family gatherings and a massive meal. In the SYNC cycle, this is a perfect celebration to focus our thoughts on the global family and the global feast that is coming.
People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Luke 13.29, New Living Translation
January 6th is the day after the "Twelve Days of Christmas." Traditionally called Epiphany ("appearance"), it celebrates the Wise Men arriving from a faraway nation to see the baby Jesus, the One sent to bring life to the world. If that emphasis is kept, it fits with the SYNC emphasis on Life through Jesus--Jn. 14.6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."
Another way of regarding January 6th relates to it being the sixth day of the year. If the first day of the year celebrates the first day of creation, then the sixth day celebrates the final, climactic day of creation, the day God created animals and people (Gen. 1.24-31).
What a perfect day for a party of gratitude! We wouldn't be here if that sixth day had not happened. (It's also a great day to celebrate the birth of any babies in the family in the past year.)
Sanctity of Human Life Day, January 19, 2020
This American holiday is usually celebrated with reference to the abortion issue, but it is also a day to celebrate the value of all life. It makes no sense to protect the unborn but not the "born"!
Valentines Day, February 14, 2020
God created humans as male and female, so Valentines Day is a perfect fit for Life Season. The joys of marital love are some of the greatest joys of human life. Romance and sex are not unreligious or anti-religious things, as some religions say. They are gifts to be enjoyed on the Creator's terms.
Carnival/Mardi Gras, February 25, 2020
Mardi Gras day, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, is the last day of Life Season. That makes it the perfect time to cap off Life Season with a party that will focus on enjoying, giving and protecting life.
If you are shocked to see Mardi Gras, February 25th this year, as a recommended holiday, rest assured we are not recommending the debauchery and pretense for which it is famous. No masks. No crazy costumes. No pretending to be some mythical creature or some celebrity. No "Lord" and "Lady" titles.
Go as your authentic self. Dress in everyday clothes and celebrate who God has made you. Show people something from your hobby, your favorite life-promoting cause, your travel, your high point of the year, etc. And in the spirit of the day, affirm everybody else at the party, even if their trumpet solo is a little flat or they show you twice as many grandkid photos as you really wanted to see.
If you are going to get a little wild, go wild with excitement about God's creation and his marvelous gift of Life. Get some music going. Have some great food. Have some good clean fun. Look at a few of the free daily astronomy photos from NASA, each with a mind-blowing paragraph of explanation. Break up the bleariness of February (if it is bleary where you are).
And you will not have to recover from it the morning after. What happens at this alternative Life Party will not stay at the party. That's the whole point. This party enlivens people, and their joy spills over and out to the world. There is nothing to cover up, nothing to forget, nothing to try to figure out how to pay for. Enjoy!
FAQs about the "big idea"
1. This view of life sounds like we are supposed to "know our place" in life and be satisfied with whatever assignment the Creator gives us. Isn't that slavery?
We don't resign ourselves to our assignment, we throw ourselves into the assignment, honored to be given it and eager to please the One in charge. We are like young boys who are thrilled when they get to run an errand that only their older brothers used to do. They are being treated as older boys now, and they feel more like kings than slaves.
Accepting our role in life would be a really horrible thought if the Creator was not on our side, deeply invested in our welfare. We have arrived in a land that is entirely owned already and not for sale. We can never acquire a single square foot of property here. We have to come to terms with the Owner. If he decides to play rough with us, there is nothing we can do.
Under these circumstances, we are terrifically relieved to hear he has set the whole thing up as a win-win situation. The more we serve him, the more fulfilled we get. Realizing life is a gift rather than a right, we become thankful that the Creator did not do what he could have done--arbitrarily assign us wherever he chose, even if it was a role that felt to us like drudgery and slavery.
2. When we say we are "bringing life" to the world, does that mean we are telling the gospel about Jesus and eternal life or just doing good things that make life a little better for people now on earth?
It means we are bringing life any way we can at any level we can. We bring life at all levels because that is who we are--life-bringers.
During Life Season, SYNC puts more emphasis on the down-to-earth blessings. What we are trying to say is that the more fully we enjoy ordinary life, the more grateful we are for what God has created, the more generous we are in everyday relationships, the more authentic we are.
Authentic people are admirable, winsome people. But to be authentic, we have to keep on with the down-to-earth blessings whether people ever ask about Jesus and eternal life or not. The down-to-earth blessings are not physical bait on a spiritual hook. Both the physical and the spiritual blessings are the overflow of the life Christ is putting into us. As long as he keeps pumping, we keep overflowing.