Festival ‘Thought’ (Reading Map 2018)

What’s the biggest problem facing today’s world? Global climate change? War? Systemic injustice? Nope. Cheerleaders on killing sprees.

 

In Kings of Leon’s Reverend video, when two cheerleaders discover a glowing meteor, they receive great power. Power to kill simply by looking at people. These girls are outwardly beautiful. But inwardly, they’re deadly.

 

Far-fetched as this scene appears, it reminds us of what is truly the biggest problem facing today’s world. Like those cheerleaders, people have great power. But that power is often used, not to serve others, but to beat them down. We see that on the world stage. And we see it in our own hearts too. Violent actions. Sarcastic words. Bitter thoughts. Power used to kill, not to give life and wholeness.

 

Yet even that isn’t the root problem, the problem the Kings’ singer Caleb sings about in Reverend: “Spending all of his time with his back to the throne”.

Human beings are no accident. We’re wonderfully made by God, who rules as King. But, the Bible tells us, we’ve turned our backs on God – spending all our time with our backs to the throne. We ignore God; turn ourselves into little gods, rather than acknowledge God as King and live life in service of him and one another.

 

We’ve all done this. No matter how outwardly beautiful we might be, even if we’re the ones the cameras focus on in the TV coverage of the festival; inwardly we’re deadly, full of death, not life. And that shows in how we live.

 

In the video, the problem is dealt with easily. A mysterious stranger reverses time to before the meteor landed, then destroys the meteor. Problem solved. Death reversed. Violence abolished. Harmony restored. Isn’t that what we want in the real world? Isn’t that what Caleb is crying out for, when he sings: “Don’t you think you gotta give / Give me something I want / Give me something I need”

 

Here’s the good news. Though our real-world situation is far more serious than any cheerleader-based problem, the King we stand with our backs to, who we claim is irrelevant or non-existent, has done something about our biggest problem. In coming to earth, Jesus Christ, God’s Son, gives us what we need. He claimed, again and again, to have authority to forgive people’s wrongdoing. And that forgiveness can be ours.

 

How? We’ll come back to that, because Jesus, in coming to earth, dying, and rising again, not only gives us what we need. He gives us what we want. Jesus says: “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus came so we might have rest. That’s exactly what we want. It’s what the Kings want. In 2008, Caleb sang, “Jesus don’t love me, no one ever carried my load”.

 

But that’s exactly what Jesus offers to do, for all who come to him. He will carry your load. He will give you rest – because of his great love. Death reversed. Violence abolished. Harmony restored. We can imagine this kingly God as harsh and distant. But actually, he calls us to come to him. Rest on him. Walk with him, rather than away from him. The rest that we want is possible, because as Jesus died on a cross, he was burdened so we might rest. The forgiveness we need is possible, because as Jesus died wearing a thorny crown, he took the rebellion of people like us, and the punishment it deserves.

 

What load are you carrying? Wondering what’ll happen now you’ve got exam results back? Feeling unattractive or worthless? Aware of your separation from God? Disappointed at your lack of love for people around you? Whatever it is, come to Jesus with it. He’ll give you the rest you want. He’ll give you the forgiveness you need.

 

Want to know more? Visit www.ceministries.org and find a church near you where you can explore the claims of Jesus.