Sunday, October 17, 2010

Our Life in Christ

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

We believers in Christ Jesus are for the moment locked into the irrepressible “now”, and this three dimensional reality seems to hinder our acknowledgment and comprehension of the unseen and the eternal. Everything from hunger to pain to the entire range of human emotions call to us constantly, and all our senses feed us information that we can see, hear, taste, and feel. This environment tends to make our relationship with Jesus little more than sweet mental notions and the satisfaction we derive from some lifestyle adjustments.
But the Apostle Paul says that we should “seek” those things which are above, and he unambiguously tells us that our very lives are not even here on this earth. And in a startling and unsettling revelation Paul says we are dead. When was the last time you considered yourself dead? I do not mean in a theological sense and when discussing that doctrinal reality. But when was the last time you rose from sleep and literally embraced your death, and walked out in the spiritual realm that made eternal life a metaphysical reality in your earthly life? When, if ever, did you feel as though you were looking out from behind your eyes at the things and people of this world as though you were a redemptive visitor?
My point is this: We have become complacent, and even more disturbing we have become contented with complacency. We walk through this life with success, entertainment, and survival as our daily goals, and in so doing we have lost the spiritual actuality that should be, that must be, not only a believer’s trait, but his very existence. And blended effortlessly into a culture of darkness we walk to and fro with a self centeredness that operates redundantly and with a reflection of the community wherein we live. In short, we are exactly like our lost counterparts, howbeit with a few words that seem religious.
The dramatic metamorphosis that should accompany such a spiritual experience has been swallowed up by the dictates of “now” and because we compare ourselves with the standard of other believers and not the New Testament revelations along with the example of the life of the One we follow. But our life is hidden with Christ. We are commanded to walk in newness of life that follows in His steps. Do we actually suggest that living like Jesus lived, and with a divine habitation of the Creator and Redeemer alive within us, results in the lives we now live? Should we not hold ourselves accountable for such a claim, and should not our pitiful reflection of such a spiritual reality lead us to repentance and a substantive reevaluation of…um…uh…everything?
Most pastors would never suggest such an inventory since, and I speak from experience, much of the pastor’s job is to keep people attending and convince them that their church is growing and Biblically based. A happy and contented church pays the mortgage and the salaries and keeps the lights on. A little cynical, I know, but it does reflect how the average evangelical church operates with few exceptions. And the millions of professing believers here in the west remain a saltless community who have even lost the status of “subset”. We are part of the main set.
Our life is not here. The politics of this nation are an affront to everything that is of Christ, and this nation is nothing more than an organized vehicle in which 300 million souls live, move, and have their being. But we have not so learned this in Christ. Our life is in Christ, and in Him we live, move, and have our being. Let us take that reality and imagine a scenario that might bring the matter into stark focus.
Imagine that we are with Jesus in the place we call heaven. And Jesus calls us together and tells us that He loves a certain fallen race called humanity, and that he has paid for their ransom, and that He is going to clothe us with earthly bodies and send us to live among these people and bring them the message of redemption. He informs us that we will live like these humans and even get married, work, and be a part of the communities in which He will place us. But Jesus tells us that we will always remember heaven and the visual revelation of Him, as well as having an open spiritual communication to Him personally. And at the appointed time Jesus said we will either die and return to Him, or He will come for us.

“Do not grow attached to the world in which I am sending you,” says the Savior.

Now I ask you, when we arrive upon this earth, fresh from the throne room of the Risen and Exalted Christ, what would attract us about this world? What political cause would grip our hearts? What nation would elicit our love and affection? Would we be concerned about our careers or our financial portfolios? And with the distinct memory of being with the Son of God, would we be so excited about sports and the temporal passions of the day? And missing Him, and longing for a return to our Blessed Savior, how much time would we spend in prayer with Him? Could we go even a day without spending time with our Redeemer, with whom we spent such time in glorious worship and adoration?
You see? When we put in that context, does it not expose our current expression of discipleship as a fraud? There are so many things that completely betray our professions of faith and the spiritual realities we claim are true. And if we desire a life that is an accurate reflection of the Resurrector, we are going to have to die. But since we have grown so attached and entangled with the things of this life, this spiritual death will be painful. Things that we now feel are acceptable or innocuous must be exposed as hindrances to the life of Jesus. Our current expression of spiritual life will be found wanting and even completely unacceptable. And when the Spirit filets our hearts, we just might have to face a treasure trove of things that do not belong there and have taken up residence in the very place that should belong exclusively to Him.
You see, this death is not a quick and painless execution. Our deaths must follow in the footsteps, or nail prints, of our Master. This is a crucifixion. Do not think the flesh is willing. And indeed the flesh, when faced with the prospect of crucifixion, will feign death way before it has ceased to breath. Your flesh will suggest that a few alterations are all that is actually necessary, and it will use others to convince you that you need not proceed further lest you are viewed as a fanatic and self righteous. And your flesh will feely offer you a bit of self righteousness if you are granted some victories and begin to compare your spiritual progress with those around you. Yes, your flesh is a cunning enemy who will be as elusive as is possible. And most blasphemous of all, the flesh often speaks as if it is the Spirit.
But our flesh has no part of our life in Christ. And crucifixion in the spiritual sense must be performed every day. And any day that the flesh is allowed to operate only serves to strengthen its resolve and allow it to surreptitiously assimilate into our very lives. A daunting task? Perhaps. But I remember a poster I read in 1975 just after I became a believer. It said:

Serve the Lord. The pay isn’t much, but the retirement is out of this world!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Much of western Christianity is a grand diversion from this reality. We are convinced that there is some way to become His disciple without carrying the cross. To paraphrase AW Tozer, the flesh will endure any deprivation short of death and still manage to thrive.