Guide for "Honor Season"
September 28 - November 21, 2020

What is more honorable than authenticity? And what proves authenticity better than willingness to take risk and endure pain?
 
No one ever proved his authenticity better or more dramatically than Jesus the Messiah. The prophet Isaiah, hundreds of years earlier, had predicted the scene in amazing detail:  

"He didn’t even look human—a ruined face, disfigured past recognition. . . He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off—and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people." (Isaiah 52.14 and 53.7-8, The Message)

Jesus could easily have avoided his agony and death by saying in court, "This is all a big misunderstanding. I am not the Messiah. Yes, I am teaching that God’s reign on earth is beginning, but let’s be clear, I am not the King he sent to lead it." The case against him would have been dropped and he would have walked out as a free man. But he took the honorable way forward, not the coward's way out.
He faced his rejection and execution as the Father's will for his mission--no backing down, no angry lashing out at his enemies, no attempt to take things into his own hands. He quietly and faithfully endured to the end, allowing it to look like he was a victim and a disgraced loser.
The Honor Rhythm is the rhythm of Jesus's feet as he staggered loyally toward his place of execution. As you move to that rhythm, you will discover who you are, and you will respect what you are becoming under the influence of Jesus--an honorable finisher not a quitter. You will "See Yourself iN Christ," and people will see Christ's super-human, enduring strength in you.
A person carrying a beam is the SYNC icon for Honor Season because Jesus was paraded through the streets of Jerusalem carrying the beam of his cross to his place of execution. It was the government's way of humiliating the condemned person and sending a warning to the public that others could end up like him.   
Jesus had already told his followers that they would in fact end up like him, at least figuratively. He did not mince any words about it. They had to be ready every day to "carry their cross" (face rejection for their connection with him) or they would be disqualified from being his followers at all. (Luke 9.23-24)
Honor Season is the time of year to gaze in awe at Jesus carrying his cross, to draw courage from it, and to realize how our actions as "honorable finishers" fulfill the purpose he had when he did it.
The "5G Quick Overview" (scroll down) will establish your high-speed connection to Honor Season. You may start there or with anything that catches your eye in these two lists: 
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Catching onto the Honor Rhythmgetting the idea and the feel of it
Moving with the Honor Rhythm - letting it move you; living it out
As you catch onto the Honor Rhythm and move with it, you will discover what it means to "See Yourself iN Christ." He is doing something huge in the world, signaling that violence is not the solution to the world's problems. The solution is loyalty to a God-given mission, even if it involves shame, rejection, and violence. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to show the world what that loyalty means in your case.  

In 2020, Honor Season is September 28 - November 21, that is, from the day after the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) to the day before Christ the King Sunday, which looks forward to the Christ's return in glory. Honor Season includes both the week of the "Roughing it Festival," October 3-9 (the "Feast of Tabernacles"; Hebrew, "Sukkot"), and Halloween/All Saints Day (originally "All Martyrs Day"), October 31 - November 1.

Going with the "5G" flow during Honor Season

1G - Game-changer. Jesus commands us to finish our mission honorably and inspires us to do it. 
Jesus's people thought that God's prophets had predicted that the Messiah would establish the reign of God on earth by force, crushing all evil. When Jesus carried his cross, he showed us that the Messiah would have to suffer (Luke 24.25-27). And so would his followers.  MORE

2G - Gift. Now that Jesus changed the game, we have what it takes to handle rejection and pain
The gift we get is courage to endure whatever hardship or opposition we meet as we carry his message of mercy (SYNC's "Mercy Season") and look forward to his glorious return (SYNC's "Vision Season"). MORE

3G - Get it. The gift helps us if we "get it" that loyalty to our mission won't be easy.

Jesus is not just our substitute; he is also our example and our hero.  MORE

4G - Go with it. Once we "get it," we stick to whatever assignment God has given us.

Our resilience is evidence that Jesus is alive, helping us endure the unendurable, and even to rejoice in the middle of it. MORE

5G - Genuineness. As we "go with it," we become honorable finishers

We find our authentic identity in Christ because of the way he accepted and endured the hard part of his mission. Hard times reveal the genuine followers of Jesus and expose the fake ones, those who are in it for their own gain. MORE

1G - Game-changer. Jesus commands us to finish our mission honorably and inspires us to do it. 

Before Jesus’s execution, he taught his followers that he and they would all have to suffer, but they didn’t get it. They still assumed he was going to set up a kingdom and exercise power to rule. Two members of his inner circle even asked him if they could be his right-hand men when he did! (Mark 10.35-37)

When Jesus carried his cross to his place of execution, the game changed. His followers had to face the truth that had been unimaginable to them before. The reign of God that Jesus announced was not going to brought in by power holders but by victims of power holders! And the victims would bring it not by revolt but by accepting their victimization!

How could that happen? Who “takes power” by accepting victimization? Jesus did and we as his followers are still doing it. We look at our victimization like Christ looked at carrying his cross—it is our role in the process of bringing God’s mercy to earth. When we accept it, we create the opportunity for everyone, even our victimizers, to welcome God’s amazing grace.

That’s what God wants—for everyone to have a chance to be awestruck by his mercy, even those who do not deserve a chance. He does not want people to have his kingdom rammed down their throats.

2G - Gift. Now that Jesus changed the game, we have what it takes to handle rejection and pain
 

Our courage rises when we realize that as Jesus carries his cross, God’s strategy is not getting blocked or frustrated. With that cross beam on his shoulders, Jesus looks for all the world like a loser, but he is not going to lose. 

The cross is not the end of God’s mission or of Jesus’s work. It is the path to the resurrection and to Jesus taking the throne in heaven. “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne” (Hebrews 12.2) 

God has set it all up so that Jesus, by loyally playing his painful role, will inspire the courage of billions of human beings for many centuries to come. We are part of the same strategy God is using. The courage we get from Jesus is not courage to overthrow governments and seize positions of power. It is the courage to trust God when we suffer for calling people to welcome Jesus as the Messiah, the rightful ruler of us and of every system of power. 

3G - Get it. The gift helps us if we "get it" that loyalty to our mission won't be easy.

Anyone who supposes that Jesus suffered so we don't have to doesn’t get it yet. "Honor Season" is a wake-up call. It is true that Jesus paid the penalty for our sin so that we would not have to pay it. There is zero sin debt remaining for us to have to pay by our own suffering. That is done.

But our suffering is not done. There is a different kind of suffering that starts for us after Jesus has done all the suffering for our sin. It is the suffering that carries on God’s strategy for ridding the world of sin.

 

This is the idea we have to get. This is how it works. Jesus sends us out as messengers of his resurrection, that is, witnesses that he is the resurrected King, not the loser he looked like when he carried his cross. Sinful people and oppressive governments don’t want to hear this. They make life difficult for us, but when they see our courage under fire, it gives them a second chance to realize that we are telling the truth--God really is at work in us. 

Christ’s willingness to suffer and die for his cause is not our ticket to an easy life. It is our example for dealing honorably with the shame and suffering that will get added to our lives if we represent him in this world. Our honorability testifies to his resurrection.

4G - Go with it. Once we "get it," we stick to whatever assignment God has given us.

This is not hard to explain. It is hard to do. It goes against every bit of self-preservation in our DNA. But our re-birth in Christ altered some of the DNA so that loyalty to the mission he has given us takes priority over self-preservation.

 

The mission is to point to him as the King who changes the world, and to show how he is already changing us. And one of the key changes he makes is that he turns chickens into heroes. When we say, "SYNC me" to Christ, we are saying, "SYNC me with your courage." Then he empowers us to go with his heroic example, trusting him to work it all out in the end. 

This is a great way to live! As honorable finishers, we convince people that there is hope for the world. They thought they couldn't trust anybody, but they see they can trust us. They thought everybody was trying to take advantage of them, but they see we are laying down our preferences and comforts for their good. We are living the authentic lives they thought nobody was living.

On the other hand, we dare not claim the benefits of Christ's death on the cross if we don't step up to carry our own cross, loyally enduring opposition to the mission God has given us. If we don't step up, we are not "going with" Christ's honor and his plan. We are out of SYNC with his purpose and strategy. We are dishonorably trying to work the system, hoping he will go with our desires even if we don't go with his heroic example.

5G - Genuineness. As we "go with it," we become honorable finishers

We find our authentic identity in Christ because of his honor. We are purified by enduring opposition to our mission like he endured opposition to his. Sharing his experience of suffering is the fire that refines us like gold. As we noted in Mercy Season, during the fire we have to bite our tongues, stop our urge to retaliate, and turn to God with our tears. 


But nothing is more genuine evidence of God's secret power at work than the way we handle the wrongs people do to us when we represent Jesus to them. The deeper people scratch us, the more they reveal that we are gold all the way to the core. 

 

There is no human explanation for our good will toward their enemies, our joy that bubbles up no matter what, and our trust in the King who will make everything right in the end. The only explanation is that Jesus is alive, that he really has sent us to represent him, and he really is with us when we do.

 

His gift to us is his presence, which explains our courage and our ability to finish honorably. He SYNCs us with his intentions when he carried his cross, which were that billions of his followers would join him in God's sacrificial strategy for bringing his mercy and power to earth. That is what it takes to undermine the power of sin, and, thanks to Jesus, we have what it takes. 

 
 
 
 
 
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