“But they shouted,
‘Crucify him! Crucify him!'”
Luke 23:21 NLT
Remember learning about cause and effect in grade school? I feel like they could’ve done a better job talking about how strangely that whole things plays out sometimes. Example:
- Cause: I told my five-year-old to put his shoes on (to go to the store). Effect: He immediately started screaming “WE ALWAYS GO TO THE STORE AND THEN WE STAY THERE FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER UNTIL IT’S DARK AND THEN WE HAVE TO GO TO BED AS SOON AS WE COME HOME I DON’T WANT TO GO TO THE STORE WHY DO WE ALWAYS HAVE TO GO TO THE STORE!!!!!!!!!!!!”
- Cause: I decide to try and make a new friend, initiating potential new friendship by giving potential new friend a birthday card (on their birthday). Effect: Person actively begins avoiding all eye contact with me and gets incredibly vague when asked if they ever want to grab coffee with me sometime.
- Cause: I look at a slice of cheesecake. Effect: I gain 5 pounds.
So, what I’m trying to say is that the part I can point to as the “cause” doesn’t always make sense of the “effect.” But the more I think about each scenario, the more I realize that I am drawing this conclusion based upon a limited amount of information. My five-year-old isn’t screaming just because I told him to put his shoes on. He’s probably not even screaming because he has to put his tv show on hold. The actual cause of the screaming is because he had a long, hard day “behaving” in 5K and is tired. (That’s probably why my “new friend” is avoiding me, too, right?)
So unless we know the FULL story, cause and effect are not really accurate ways to measure the effectiveness of a cause.
Jesus’ life speaks to this, too. He lived his whole life with ZERO sin; he literally didn’t sin even once. Yet, at the end of his life, nearly an entire country demanded his death. Cause: Live a perfect life, heal people, show love and mercy. Effect: Be sentenced to death by crucifixion by the same people you came to heal.
“But they shouted, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ For the third time he demanded, ‘Why? What crime has he committed? I have found no reason to sentence him to death. I will therefore flog him and let him go.’ But the crowd shouted louder and louder for Jesus’ death, and their voices prevailed.” (Luke 23:21-22 NLT)
If you know the whole account, then you know that there was more to the story. His perfect life didn’t cause his crucifixion. We did. Our – from Eve and Adam on up to me – sin set a cause and effect relationship into motion that resulted in the need for this perfect life to be sacrificed to save us all. But, just like the examples I gave earlier from my personal life, you only know this if you look all the information, not just the superficial, at-first-glance stuff.
What does this mean for our day-to-day life? For me, it means I might have more joy in my life if I stop thinking I know all the information. I see effects and draw conclusions on the cause of those effects based upon my limited perspective. What if instead I paused and prayed once I notice an effect in my life I’m uncomfortable with. What if I asked God to reveal to me what’s actually causing the effect and ask him to help me understand or change the situation?
It really comes down to who I believe is causing the effect. If it’s me, we’ve got bigger problems than five pounds, potential friends and crying five-year-olds. If it’s God working through me, I bet we see a much brighter effect.
Dear Lord, it’s so stinking easy for me to get caught up in a self-conscious mindset where I look to connect MY actions to MY results. I need your help to focus instead on YOUR actions in my life and the results of YOUR Holy Spirit. Give me strength to care for those around me and look for ways let you take control of the results. Amen