Sunday, February 22, 2015

Identity in Christ - 13 (Crucified with Christ)

It seems like the main concept of our identity in Christ: "being in Christ." Since, we are following quasi-alphabetical order, this main concept is in the "I's" and it will be a while before we tackle it head on. But we are considering many facets derive from that. It could be compared to cutting limbs from a tree, perhaps to get at the root more easily.

Scripture says we are crucified with Christ. Even though we did not feel the pain or experience the shame, we do experience the consequences of Jesus on the cross. He died satisfying God's justice, restoring God's honor. My life is tied to that. God's justice is satisfied in my life. God's glory shines brighter and clearer.

Moreover, the person I was is gone. When Jesus died, sin was expunged; and the people who in Jesus died with him. When Jesus rose, he demonstrated that sin and death had no power over him. And for those in Jesus, sin and death have no power over them either. It is the Spirit who powers the resurrected Jesus. It is the Spirit who powers us.
  • God's Perspective
God deals with sin on the cross. The cross is the final solution. When Jesus died, God's dilemma of being holy and just or loving and merciful is no longer a problem. He is both.

When Jesus died, God's dilemma of judging and condemning men for sin, or loving and blessing men is no longer a problem. Jesus was substituted for one, and we are invited to accept and live in the other. It does not become man's by default. Jesus lit a candle in the darkness. Like moths, we are all drawn to the flame. When we get to the light, we can live in the light, or go back into the darkness.
  • Living My Life
I come to Jesus; I immerse myself in his death; I rise with him as a new person. I am powered by the Spirit. The life I live agrees with what I believe. By faith, I reach out and lay hold of God's promises. By faith, I reach out and lay hold of God's resources, cease practicing words, deeds and thoughts that dishonor God, practicing different words, deeds and thoughts that do honor God, show God's image and complete his mission and purposes.

Lying hold of Christ by faith puts me in the correct position, in him. And being him releases me to live as God designed me to live.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Identity in Christ - 12 (Called by God)

“Called” can be translated as “invited.” We have been invited by God to live eternal life. It is our choice to join him.

I have recently read that one of the problems communicating the gospel to Buddhists is this term “eternal life.” “Life” to Buddhists is an existence of suffering and trouble. That is the prime character trait of life. Who would want to live forever in an existence of pain and suffering?  Implied in the Christian concept is a restoration of Eden. Life, as we know it, is not how life is intended to be … Eden is. We are not invited to normal life; we are invited to live in Eden, in the new Jerusalem.
  • God’s Perspective
God create a world to create a family. And his family collapsed. Not through his doing or his desire. It collapsed because of decisions be family members. Foremost, we need to see that God wants his family back.

He has acted to remove the barriers to allow a reunion. The only barrier remaining is: the children need to choose to come home. Once, they come home, they are part of the family again. And the Father empowers “eternal life.” Not just forever life with him – in joy, in peace, without pain, without suffering and without sorrow. To live, now, a life that renewed, characterized by the perfected life of heaven.
  • Living My Life
Life, to which we have been invited to live, is a now, but not yet life. We will never live fully and completely as we were designed to live, as we will when we join the Father in heaven. Yet we are meant to:
  1. In a true relationship and communication with the Father. 
  2. In a growing lifestyle that comforts with Jesus’ life, in thought, word, deed, motivation and intention.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Identity in Christ - 11 (Child of God)

Jesus died so the penalty and power of sin might be done away with. Jesus died so the way might be opened for us to join God’s family.

When we gave Jesus our allegiance, the Father adopted us, brought us home to live with him and his family. He made us his own. Now, like all good fathers, he is concerned about caring for us, guiding us and providing for us. He wants us to develop, grow, achieve our potential, live our dreams and make decisions that bring good into the world. He will work with us, walk with us every step of the way, to make certain these things happen. He speaks to us all the time. However, we aren’t always tuned in.

We do not know what the final result should be. We do know the Father wants us to be like Jesus. We have a hazy picture of what that is. But he is making it clearer and clearer.
  •  God’s Perspective
We are members of his family. Each of us have a unique and special relationship with our Father. Even though his children number in the hundreds of millions, he is able to given each child 100% focused attention. He is able to work in the minute details of each child’s life.

We have all heard of stories about terrible fathers. They are cruel. They are selfish. They make awful decisions that have a 100-megaton impact on their children’s lives. We, as children of the All-Good Father, may experience bad things. But it will never be at the hand of a cruel, selfish, unwise father. His goals and intentions have always been from eternity past, from the time he designed us, our good, our joy and our peace. He is always 100% sold out for us.
  • Living My Life
Realizing God’s attitude about us and for us, should give his children an amazing life posture. Again, I don’t think God takes sin lightly; I don’t think his children should take sin lightly. I am beginning to think for too many give it more importance than it should. Our hearts are given to avoid dis-pleasing God. We should focus our hearts on pleasing God.

Focusing on “not displeasing” leads to a life of making sure we are keeping the rules. And we can never keep the rules. (NOTE: do not use this as a license to break the rules. That is not the point.) We go from sin, to guilt trip, to resolution to do better, to sin … in a never ending spiral.

We need to focus on resting and relying on his love and provision. We need to trust in his intentions and work, which he has shown and proven time and again. We need to be grateful for what he has done, knowing that his actions demonstrate his absolute support for his children. He has already given us what we need, and made available everything else we might need. We need to cooperate with his purposes for us, realizing it entails some way of sharing love.

Living as God’s child means refraining giving too much time and energy to failures, when the major portion of both should be our relationship with our Father, and the natural expression of love, that should be the outcome of the relationship.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Heart and Sin

{NOTE: Theorizing alert.} I sometimes think that people are more upset by sin in God’s children than God is. Don’t misunderstand. I don’t think God takes sin lightly. But in light of Jesus’ death, he takes it seriously for different reasons.

Before we gave our allegiance to Jesus, we gave our hearts to sin. Sin was our life. When we gave our allegiance to Jesus, we gave our hearts to him. He was our life.

Before Jesus, we were God’s enemies, because we broke God’s law with rebellious hearts. After Jesus, we were God’s children. We broke God’s law, but not with rebellious hearts. We had chosen to submit our hearts to him.

Continued sin has many reasons. Some are expressing habits learned through a lifetime. Some are using old ways to fill heart-holes. So, after Jesus, God’s primary concern with sin is behavior that goes contrary to our design. Yes, sin breaks God’s law. But Jesus died to overcome the penalty of sin. Now God can focus on “healthy living.” God tells us not to sin, not because he will condemn us, but because it interferes with our relationship with him, our growth and our ability to demonstrate his nature to the world.