God makes beautiful things from dust. He is a merciful redeemer. However, that means He starts with dust not beauty. Are you dust or do you fancy yourself “somewhat ok” by christian standards? You see, we are quick to miss why God even bothers redeeming us. Why bother with dust? Does he have compassion on our pathetic state? Sure, but that’s not why he bothers with us. It’s not for us to feel better. It’s not for our sake at all! Here’s what God says: “It is not for your sake…that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations…”-Ezekiel 36:22
According to Genesis we were made from the dust. All other created things were spoken into existence by God. But us? We were made from dust! Do you think God was trying to communicate a little something? It is His timeless reminder to us of just how low we are. What’s lower than dust? Part of the serpent’s curse in the garden was that it would crawl on its belly and “lick the dust.” A punishment of humiliation. The word humble itself comes from the greek word “humos” meaning clay, soil or dirt. Dirt!
Think about this:
If God, in a perfect and sinless world, stooped down and picked up a handful of dust to make man in His own glorious image..
..Then why would God, in a broken and sin-filled world, even bother to stoop down and work a glorious redeeming work if we weren’t humbled “as dust in his hands?” Humility is a pre-requisite.
You see, there is an insidious plot afoot. It is a tactical attack. One that aims to keep Christ from receiving the reward of his suffering: namely, those for whom He died. Satan, continues his campaign to elevate himself and convince man to do the same. The logic is quite brilliant actually. Keep mankind proud. Keep him self-assured, “in control” and self-righteous. Keep him out of the dust! Because, if a man actually does humble himself to the dust, confesses his rebellion and sin agains God and cries out to Him for mercy. Then God will certainly act and redeem and everyone will see it and give glory to God!
Modern psychology exalts man and says we ought to love ourselves more, feel good about ourselves and follow our hearts(thank you Disney for filling our kids minds with this stuff). What drivel!! I can hear the serpent’s hiss in those statements. The venom from 6000 years ago still flows deep in man’s veins. “I hate myself!” is a lament psychologist and councillors hear and mishandle all the time. Really? You hate yourself? I don’t think so at all. You might hate your situation, your repetitive sinful behaviours, addictions, or the pain of being a victim yourself, others, or uncontrolled circumstances. But, you certainly don’t hate yourself. You love yourself.
James 4:1-2 exposes the issue:
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.”
Why are we unhappy, quarrelsome, depressed, bitter? Because we want something for ourselves (even if it’s something good) Still, we are obsessed with improving and elevating our position and comfort. Dave Hunt once said something to this affect:
“If you truly hated yourself, you would enjoy it when people mocked you and you would giggle when they called you ugly and fat. You would be glad when you failed. You would grin with glee when you were betrayed by close friends.”
No, we love ourselves folks. This is the biggest stumbling block to entering in to the fullness of relationship with God and being used to glorify God. We hate pain, and we don’t like being alienated or mocked. As such we prefer our comfortable path over the disciples path to a cross. We greatly esteem ourselves and refuse to believe we are dust- hopeless, insignificant dust of which only a merciful God could redeem.
By now you realize I’m not going easy on you. Why? Because, crucifixion comes before the resurrection. Humility before glorification.(not our glorification but Christ’s)
Jesus’ own words are hard to swallow:
John 12:24-25 “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life”
Luke 14:26,27 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters- yes even his own life– he cannot be my disciple.”
A.W. Tozer once said, “A whole new generation of christians has come up believing that it is possible to “accept” Christ without forsaking the world.”
You can’t feed this stuff to the world! It’s Kryptonite! Everything in the world is completely reversed and opposed to it. Our flesh screams out against it. Yet it is the disciples path. The humiliation of a cross is not tasteful to us. Furthermore its a permanent thing.
There is a finality to it! The depths of a grave are even more putrid to the natural man. The grave is a place of isolation, darkness, no recognition, no glory. It’s a forgotten place A place where we wait, rest, and anticipate by faith. We anticipate that God will work in us a resurrection-not for our glory- but for His alone. A “resurrected one” has an obsession for God’s glory and no longer his own. People like this, are constantly and creatively thinking of ways to glorify God even in the most mundane and trivial aspects of life whether or not others see it.
1. Reckon yourself for who you are…dust.
I say often that a suicidal man standing on a bridge about to jump is much closer to hope than the entire multitude of people in the bustling city streets nearby. Why? Because he has reckoned himself as dust…he looks deep into the empty chasm of his heart and rightly concludes that in himself there is no good thing. He is standing on the very verge of finding redemption. Sadly, too often the response to this depressing truth is simply to again return to the cycle that got him there in the first place. And that is to “love himself” by ending the discomfort of this life. It’s selfishness! “Who cares who I leave behind! Who cares about my responsibilities to my children and family! Who cares what God expects from me! I want out!” And Satan chuckles. His scheme has run full circle and ended in death.
The proper conclusion to this stark realisation that we are dust is something like this: “Then it can no longer be about me! What good is dust in my own hands? But, what if God could us this ‘dust?’ What if he could make something beautiful? What if he could be glorified? What if that is my glorious purpose? To glorify God!” Now we’re getting somewhere!
2. Reckon yourself crucified with Christ. To reckon something is to reason something based on facts. It is to soundly and logically arrive at decisions and courses of action based upon a truth revealed.
Why did Abraham obey God and offer Isaac as a sacrifice? Because he RECKONED that since God can’t lie, God would have to raise Isaac back to life to fulfill his promise that through Isaac’s offspring a great nation would be born.(Heb 11:19) Based on that, Abraham raise the knife! He RECKONED! Reckoning is not reckoning at all until action is taking place based on the facts that were believed. In Abrahams case, The fact he acted on was: God is not a liar
Its one thing to hear a rumour that a house burned down in you neighbourhood and it might be yours. Its completely another to stand over the charred and smoking remains of your home. Then you can well and truly say, “Yeah, a house did burn down in our neighbourhood, and it was my house.” No doubts, none at all. That is a fact that can be reckoned upon. It changes everything you do next, all your plans, your goals.. everything!
This isn’t about convincing yourself, “I’m crucified! I’m crucified! I’m crucified!” while hopping on one foot and winking with your right eye. This is about asking God by his Spirit to reveal the reality of your position in Christ. That it is already done. It is past tense. The house is already burned as it were. Now you need to see it with your own spiritual eyes. It must become fact for you. Only God can unveil you eyes. Ask him to.
You know, we all acknowledge “dust to dust” when we stand at a graveside committal service. But a disciple comes to the cross and says..“Dust to dust, Lord! You formed me out of dust and you can only redeem me out of dust. I am a kernel of wheat. I am nothing. I have reckoned myself dead and buried with You. May Your resurrection power be worked in me to bring You glory. All I have left now is You, everything else is gone. Its all burned up and gone.”
If the crowning act of our Lord Jesus Christ was to die on a cross. And if He calls us to pick up our own cross and follow him there…then you can be sure of this; For you to take this road- its going to get uglier before it gets better. It means the end of you. The. End. Of. You!
“Why should a person come to the cross? Why should a person embrace death with Christ? Why should a person be willing to go, in identification, down to the cross and into the tomb and up again? I’ll tell you why! BECAUSE IT’S THE ONLY WAY THAT GOD CAN GET GLORY OUT OF A HUMAN BEING!!!” –Paris Reidhead from his sermon 10 Shekels and a Shirt:
Here is an excellent article by Jeff Dunn on this. It’s called “Surrender to His Teeth” . This is important stuff. Take the time.