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Living as worthy finishers

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As people instructed to "carry our crosses," we live a life of discovery. We are not sure what our capacity for suffering is, just like we don't know how much weight a bridge can actually carry until it crumbles under the weight of a truck. And we really don't want to have to find out our own breakdown point! But come what may, we know that God will always give us a way out or a way through (1 Corinthians 10.13). 

Suffering is the rhythm of Worth Season, the rhythm of Jesus's feet as he staggered under the cross beam on his way to execution. We dance to the other six rhythms in the annual SYNC cycle, but the Worth Rhythm is the one that keeps us going when we are too weak and worn out to dance.


We do not go into shock when people criticize us, attack us, or try to shame us. Jesus told us to expect all that. We just keep going with our heads held high. We do not curse our attackers any more than Jesus cursed his. We do not pretend that the attacks do not hurt, but we do not give up either. We keep going, trusting God to make the painful situation work out according to his promises.

And why wouldn't he? The whole campaign to save the world from itself was his idea. He is driving it, and he can't let his campaign team members break down or burn out. Suffer, yes, but give up, no. That would disgrace the campaign, so God will prevent it at all costs. 


In the meantime we know that every time we respond honorably to the world's shaming, we add to the evidence that Jesus is alive. Because of his resurrection power we are indestructible even if we are killed.

How do we move with the Worth Rhythm? 


  • We say "Yes!" Our first step as we start moving with the Worth Rhythm is to look at Jesus carrying his cross and say,
    "Yes, that is my King!
    Yes, that man, beaten to a pulp by the establishment, that man, about to be unjustly nailed to a cross and hung up to die, that man is my King!
    Yes, that man really is the person God chose and sent to connect, heal, and bless the world, and he is still doing it right now!
    Yes, put me at the service of that King." "SYNC me!" is one way of saying "Yes." 


  • We keep looking at the story of Jesus carrying his cross. (John 19.17) This story shows us that God's Messiah would change the world not by crushing evil but by allowing evil to crush him!
    In God's strategy, evil is like a stiff rod that is used to beat people into submission. The Messiah is not a bigger rod that smashes the first rod. The Messiah is a person who is built like a rock, and when the rod strikes that person, he is bruised but the rod is cracked beyond repair. It can never be used again like it was before.


  • We become worthy finishers, loyal to Jesus. When Jesus was arrested, every one of his twelve close followers disgraced themselves and ran off. Peter outdid the others by denying three times that he had ever met Jesus! But Peter later became a worthy finisher, the leader of Jesus's followers, and died as a martyr.
    How was that possible? Peter was there when the Holy Spirit arrived on that circle of 120 followers of Jesus, and he became a changed man. Jesus's Spirit got into him, and the rest is history. 


  • We don't expect smooth sailing as messengers of Jesus. Those who want to avoid suffering don't want Jesus as their Messiah, their hero. If we expect everyone to honor us because we speak up for Jesus, for love, for healing, for blessing, for uniting the world, we have not spent enough time looking at Jesus carrying his cross.
    In spite of all the good he did, the authorities still saw Jesus as a threat. There will always be plenty of people, including authorities, who will see us as threats when we carry on Jesus's campaign. They will use their powers of shame, law, or mob action to stop us.

Becoming worthy finishers

As we realize what Jesus was talking about when he said we would have to "carry our cross," we start seeing ourselves in Christ as finishers, and we pray prayers like this:

King Jesus, living source of our spiritual strength, thank you so much for showing us how to carry a cross and empowering us to do it like you did. Thank you for replacing our fatigue and fear with your stamina and grace.


Please forgive and bless the people

who attack us for representing you and your campaign. They don't know what they are doing. They think they can stop the power of your love! Show them they can't, and let us be the evidence they need in order to realize you are alive.

If we are in Christ, the epitome of honorability, we also become honorable people. Some of those who used to insult us because of Jesus may even change their minds when they see how we handle the insults. If we become angry and fight back, they will think that is normal, but if we carry our cross like Christ carried his, they will notice, and some of them will be impressed with our courage.


When that happens, we give Christ all the credit. We know that we were no tougher than anyone else to start with, and we didn't build our endurance by working hard on it.


We were no more likely to be loyal to the death than Peter was when he tried it in his own strength. But now that the Spirit of Christ has moved into us, we are finishers, and we will make it to the finish line because we are in Christ and he is in us.

That can work for anyone who invites Christ in. Ever since he took the throne in heaven and sent the Holy Spirit, all his followers have what it takes to rise above any opposition God allows to come to us.


If we used to be shy or even if we never had the guts or discipline for anything difficult, the change in us now is all the more obvious. It shows that the strength is not coming from our own toughness but from the living Christ inside us, changing us at the deepest levels of our personality, the places where we can't change ourselves. Every time we show our worth, we show his. 

God, [name of person or group] is/are rejecting and shaming me because I'm tied to you and I talk about it. When they see how calmly I react to them, help them respect me for it.


Open their eyes so they can see they have been shaming what they should have been honoring. And even if they don't, help me to finish well and worthy of your Name.

As we ponder Jesus carrying his cross, going through agony to victory, we catch the Worth Rhythm, which links at least four basic ideas:  

  1. God is on a campaign to change the world, but not by force and not by simply teaching good things

  2. Jesus is the spearhead of that campaign, especially when he carries his cross

  3. Jesus is the ultimate "worthy finisher," accepting unimaginable rejection and brutality without wavering in his loyalty to the campaign

  4. As campaign team members, we can finish worthily in spite of opposition because we are inspired by his example and empowered by his Spirit

As these ideas soak into us, we stay loyal to our assignment in life. Heaven's worth seeps into us, and we live worthily.

Worth Season is the time to re-SYNC with the Worth Rhythm. Remember who we are. Remember how we got here. And act like it--grateful to Christ for carrying his cross and giving us his backbone of spiritual steel. We are loyal through anything, we rise above anything, and we point people to Jesus as the one who makes it all possible.

He is more than a heroic example of how to suffer honorably. He is an example of how things turn out in the end for those who accept the suffering that comes with their assignments in God's campaign. Jesus died in the line of duty, and God brought him back to life, never to die again. He lives to empower others by putting his Spirit into them. 

The world supposes that power holders determine the course of world history, and that people like Jesus, who die as victims, have no effect on the world's future, except maybe a little influence by setting a kind example. But what actually determines the whole future of the world is who God brings back to life and installs as the resurrected king. We can finish honorably because we have a living connection with that king, Jesus the Messiah. 

Agony, victory, and Worth Season

Like all six other SYNC rhythms, the Worth Rhythm links you, your world, and your day today back to something huge God has done.To "SYNC" with that God-thing means to align yourself with God's intentions when he did it.


In this case the God-thing is Jesus carrying his cross. By doing that, Jesus showed us what it took to complete his mission, faithful to the death. He is the one we look to as we complete our mission. 

Jesus's command to us is not, "Take up my sword," but "Take up my cross." Worth Season is not about the courage to defend our honor violently but to endure shaming and violence honorably. 

Endure shaming honorably? What is that about?

As God's Son the Messiah, Jesus faced a stark choice between defending his honor and accomplishing his mission. His mission was to lay down his life for the sake of the kingdom he had proclaimed, but he could not lay down his life (looking like a loser) and at the same time defend his honor (refusing to look like a loser).

He stuck with his mission. In agony he shouldered that cross and all the disgrace that went with it. And that is why he received the place of highest honor from God the Father (Hebrews 12.2). God honors those who stay loyal to him and his campaign to connect, heal, and bless the world no matter what it costs their own reputations. 

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