ARE WE ALIVE
I’m surprised at times when I see Christians trying to improve themselves and be godly by observing rites and doing selected behaviors. Good deeds are great but to be life-giving to others and ourselves these actions need to be the end result of our rootedness in Jesus. They are the fruits of the Spirit of Christ.
When we are the branches of the vine we are content in ourselves and we become life-givers to others. Paul’s message was always some version of the new covenant reality of ‘Christ in you.’ Thus he urges, ‘Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence’ Col 2. 6, 8, 16, 23 NIV.
Paul is telling us that is Christ’s life expressed as our life that makes us daughters and sons of God in name and expression. John tells us the same thing when he writes, ‘For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it’ John 5.21 NIV. The life of God is spirit and life. It is Jesus manifesting as us.
Life. It’s a person. Or more accurately, He is a Person. Anywhere that Jesus is, there will be life. Jesus is life Himself. All that is alive finds its purpose and life in Him. In Him all things are made to multiply the love of God in freshness and joy. There is nothing numbing or tedious about God. There is no rejection in Him. The ultimate expression of life is love. Jesus is love. He makes us one in ourselves and with each other.
Anything that is alive is sourced in a person. It is the same in the Kingdom. The dullness of a gospel grounded in a belief system cannot be hidden for long, just as the freshness of a gospel that is Jesus from first to last reveals itself as ALIVE. The kingdom of heaven among us is alive because Jesus rose from the dead. The question you must ask yourself is, ‘Have you risen from the dead?’ if we are living in the Christ-life of the new covenant we have.
It makes a difference whether you think the ultimate reality in the universe is a person or the law; whether you are living from the old testament or the new. It makes a difference if you are living from the knowledge of good and evil or living from Jesus. It makes a difference whether you think all things are under Jesus feet or whether you think He sits under the law as the custodian of a performance mentality. It makes a difference if you think Jesus is your life or you think you are your life.
It makes even more of a difference if you believe with your heart that you have seen the Father if you have seen Jesus. You are positioned to multiply life if you know that Father has revealed Himself to you in Jesus. You are set up as a life-giver when you live in the heart of the Father and you have His heart. To say God is love is to say that the Father’s love is personified in Jesus and manifest as you by His Spirit. The alternatives listed here are the difference between letter and spirit, life and death, tedium and joy.
Dullness is a form of death. Within religion it may appear as an acceptable form of un-life. When religion is about sacrificing yourself, then being dull appears as an acceptable offering. How did dullness get to be so highly esteemed? The original sin was to believe the slander about the Father. This effected the switch in allegiance from the Father of love to the Father of lies. It led us out of life itself into definitions and abstractions. This is the stuff of the knowledge of good and evil. It makes you stuffed.
Any assumption that the ultimate reality in the universe is law, theology, a belief system, a philosophy or a program has a deadening effect on the Believer. It places our being in something much less than we are and dulls our heart. Dead hearts make dead people and dead preachers. Rejoice! There is life in the world because God loves the world and because since the resurrection the world is becoming the expression of Jesus in people.
‘Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation’ Gal 6.15 NIV. Rites mean nothing. That which means everything is a new life and a new creation.