Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Alive in Christ

             One of the most powerful metaphors for salvation and discipleship in the New Testament is resurrection. Paul tells us that we were dead in our transgressions and sins, but by his great mercy God made us alive with Christ. What a stark image – before we are saved we are dead! Once we are saved, we are resurrected!

            We are, of course, alive physically both before and after our salvation, but the metaphor is so powerful because it points to deep truths about how life-changing salvation is for us. Death was released into the world through the disobedience of Eve and Adam in the early days following creation. Death continues to increase in power and destruction as each person chooses disobedience over faithfulness. One way to look at life is that it is being overtaken by death. But God’s grace is life giving: when you receive new life in Jesus Christ everything about your life changes. Grace teaches you to love – to love God, to love others and to love life itself!  Listen to John – who was taught to love by Jesus: We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. (1 John 3:14 NIV) Once love replaces fear in your life as the driving force, you are fully living the resurrection life!

            Once you begin living the resurrection life, you immediately notice that everything in the environment around you looks different. While there is a part of you that still sees all the same old people, places and stuff, the “God-alive” part of you sees with heaven’s view. Jesus taught us to pray that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. Paul tells us that we have been seated “in the heavenly realms with Christ.” Once you start looking at people, places and stuff through the eyes of God everything looks different. You see the potential, not the lack. You see the good planted into the entire creation by the Creator who constantly said “It is good!” Once you can see the good you can live in such a way to increase the good, both in yourself and in everyone and everything around you. That is why Jesus was so attractive to people – he “went around doing good” and it brought out the goodness in people around him. Those who are resurrected live like that!

            God is a loving and patient creator. He created us to be his partners in creation. When we choose disobedience and death, we are helping to destroy creation. When we choose resurrection and life, we are helping to restore creation. No one is neutral in the creative process – we are either helping or harming what God is doing in the world. Paul gives us this advice: Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. (Romans 6:13 NIV) The choice before us all is crystal clear: death or life, fear or love, instruments of wickedness or instruments of righteousness. Choose wisely because your choice will have a great impact on yourself and all those around you. Choose life!
                                                                                                                                           - Kenny Payne

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