We finish honorably
Tool kit for Honor Season, October 6 - November 19, 2022

Honor icon - screenshot.png
No one ever proved personal authenticity better or more dramatically than Jesus the Messiah during his trial and execution. 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 prophet Isaiah, hundreds of years before Jesus, 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 have taken the easy way out by telling the court, "This is all a big misunderstanding. Yes, I am teaching that God’s reign on earth is beginning, but let’s be clear, I am not the Messiah, 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 authentic, honorable way forward. He accepted his rejection and execution as his assignment in God's campaign, so there was 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. He was signaling that the solution to the world's problems is not violence but loyalty to a God-given mission, even if it involves shame, rejection, and agony. 
 
As you move to the Honor Rhythm, you will discover who you really 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 authenticity in you. That is your mission, should you choose to accept it.
What is more honorable than authenticity? And what proves authenticity better than willingness to take risk, face ridicule, and endure pain because of who you know you are?
Receiving and showing honor
Quick intro
Personal tools to help you finish honorably--choose any or all
Discovering an honorable life--basic tools for all campaign team members 
One-time reads
FAQs about using these tools to become honorable and show honor
1. Why does God put his campaign workers through such agony?
2. Is it OK to be aggressive or obnoxious as a follower of Jesus? We will be more likely to run into opposition that way.
3. When we endure opposition well, what keeps us from bragging about how tough we are? 

4. How do I know if I am already an "honorable finisher"? 

5. If I wanted to improve my chances of finishing honorably, how would I do it?

FAQs about basics
What is SYNC?
What is a SYNC season?
What campaign is Jesus leading?

What does the Honor Season icon mean?

How does Honor Season relate to the two previous seasons of the campaign?

FAQs

 

1. Why does God put his campaign team members through such agony?

 

Because endurance of agony can achieve what crushing force never can. Our endurance gives other people a free opportunity to change, and that is the goal of God's campaign strategy.


By having Jesus go through what he went through, carrying that cross and dying on it, God showed the human race once and for all that violence is not a tool that good people have to resort to sometimes in order to bring in a better world.

 

From a human point of view, it is honorable to use violence to defend your personal, family, or tribal honor. In many cultures it is disgraceful not to do so. But God has subtler and more elegant methods of maintaining honor. He told us through the prophet Isaiah, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55.9)

And as we think about Christ carrying his cross, we realize this is true. Violence is something that good people "attack" by enduring it courageously, and in the end they undermine its power. It collapses on itself. This does not mean we escape agony. We accept agony so other people can freely choose to escape it.

By accepting agony, we show our loyalty to the mission God has given us and the strategy he has chosen. That is what makes us honorable from God's perspective even if people around us think we are pathetic scum. We do not have to prove anything to them, retaliate against them, or allow their blind violence to dominate our thoughts and feelings. We are liberated from all that. 

And our mission is also violence-free. We do not have to use force to reshape the world, and we do not fall for the pipe dream that the world would be perfect if we ever got to take charge. Jesus never told his followers to conquer the world or taught them how to exercise power over its systems.

 

On Judgment Day he will not ask us how much we conquered or how fiercely we defended our honor. He will ask about two other things:

1) how were we his witnesses, especially of his resurrection?

2) how did we endure and rise above whatever the world threw at us because of our witness?

2. Is it OK to be aggressive or obnoxious as a follower of Jesus? We will be more likely to run into opposition that way. 

Look at Jesus again. Did he have to carry that cross because he had been aggressive and obnoxious? No, but he had not exactly been meek and mild either. He had been faithful to his mission. He had never flinched.

  • He had overturned the tables of the greedy moneychangers in the Temple, and when he told them to get out, he had not used his calm voice

  • He had stood up to the challenges of the questions the religious experts asked in order to trap and discredit him

  • He had not backed down when the religious court asked him to declare whether he was the Messiah, even though they held all the power and he held none

  • He had not been intimidated by the Roman governor but told him that he had no power over him except what God had allowed

We are not really "carrying our cross" when we are suffering for being aggressive and obnoxious about our attachment to Jesus. We deserve shame for that kind of suffering. We brought it on ourselves. Our real "cross" is the shame we do not deserve. Our cross happens because of our mission, not because we go about the mission in a more aggressive and obnoxious way than Jesus did.

3. When we endure opposition well, what keeps us from bragging about how tough we are?


We never get arrogant about our courage, as if we can say, "Bring on the difficulties! We will show you that we can handle anything." On the contrary, Jesus teaches us to pray, "Lead us not into times of testing [that will require a lot of courage], but deliver us from evil." But when the evil does come, he gives us what it takes to get through it. 

 

We would always prefer to avoid agony than go through it because we know we don't always feel courageous as we carry our cross. The Honor Declaration does not say, "This is a day to carry our cross, and we feel full of courage." It says we will keep going no matter how we feel. Christ will make it possible. If someone asks us later how we got through that crisis, we will only say that God got us through in some way that we don't really understand ourselves.

4. How do I know if I am already an "honorable finisher"? 

The simplest way to tell if you are already an honorable finisher is to ask yourself whose opinion has more influence in your everyday life--God's or people's. If you are a people-pleaser, if it is important to you to make a good first impression and to keep up appearances, you may disgrace yourself sometime when you forget God's opinion as you try to please some person or group.

On the other hand, if God's opinion really matters to you, you will keep listening so it is clear and foremost in your mind in every situation that comes along. No special skill is required. We just have to pay attention. We keep reading the Bible so we get the big picture of God's campaign. We keep listening for the Holy Spirit to impress on us our day to day assignments in the campaign. And we stay connected to other campaign team members because sometimes God guides us through them.

Attentive listening keeps us in SYNC with God's campaign and strategy just like it keeps dancers in sync with the music. If we stay in SYNC, we finish honorably.

Another way to tell if you are an honorable finisher is to ask how you are handling opposition that comes because people know you are representing Jesus in some way. If you never get any opposition, you have to ask whether you are ever risking anything for the campaign at all. If you get opposition but cave in quickly, or if the possibility of opposition makes you avoid some campaign activities, you will know what disgrace feels like when you see Jesus face to face.

If you still aren't sure whether you are an honorable finisher, here is a third way to tell, though it is a little more work. Read the version of the campaign story called "No Shame in That" (2 min.) and ask whether you see yourself as part of that story. The "Reflections" at the end of the story include five ways to tell whether you are in or not.

5. If I wanted to improve my chances of finishing honorably, how would I do it?

Step one is to give up on the idea that the way to improve your chances is to try harder. That idea may sound right but it won't get the job done. To improve your chances you have to hear the story of God's campaign and say, "I'm in," the same way you might say it if someone asked you whether you wanted to go along on a trip or take part in a business deal.

 

Here's a 2-minute version of the campaign story called, "No Shame in That". If you say, "I'm in" after you read this story, it means, "Yes, Jesus our hero, please put your Spirit into me so I can finish honorably like you did. I admit that trying to do my best without you will never work. I was never destined to do it on my own. From now on I'm relying on you to keep me loyal and to get me through any hard times I hit as I serve on your campaign team. Tattoo my soul with the ink of your Spirit, the ink made from your own blood."

Welcome to Team Honor! Let's give all honor to Jesus, and let's never let the people who shame us think they are more important than they really are. God's opinion of us outweighs theirs a thousand times. 

What does the Honor Season icon mean?
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 clear warning to the public, "You don't want to end up like this loser."   
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)
How does Honor Season relate to the previous two seasons of the campaign (Power Season and Mercy Season)?

Power, Mercy, Honor--those are three consecutive seasons in the SYNC annual cycle and three ways of looking at the cross

  • In Power Season (May 26 - August 6, 2022) we looked at the cross as Christ's victory over the powers of darkness

  • In Mercy Season (August 7 - October 5, 2022) we looked at it as a sacrifice for us

  • In Honor Season (October 6 - November 19, 2022) we look at it as a model of authenticity

 

Power, Mercy, and Honor are also three parts of our witness to the Risen King, Jesus the Messiah, who is carrying on his campaign through us by his Spirit

  • Power shows that God's transforming power for good is at work in us

  • Mercy shows that God has already paid for our past mistakes

  • Honor shows that we authentically keep trusting his power and mercy even when they do not seem to be working for our own safety or comfort right away 

Our trust in Christ stays genuine and deep because we know how this story will end. We know what comes next in the SYNC cycle--Vision Season, when everything comes together under the rule of Christ, and truly honorable people are truly honored.