Friday, July 25, 2008

Life and Death

Often I think the presentation of the Gospel gives the impression that on the Cross Jesus purchased for us future life in Heaven. Life after death. And this is of course true. But it is not even close to all that he bought on Calvary.

More and more I am impressed with the need to accentuate the life that he brings us into here and now also.

In focussing primarily on the future aspect we seem to have abandoned the sense of reality for the life in which we now find ourselves. If I am content to know that I will be saved on that final day, and this verdict is sure, then it is hard to fathom the purpose of leaving me here on earth for the next twenty, thirty, fifty years. Often, to see Christians live and to hear them talk, I think that they are just living humdrum lives waiting to die and be ushered into "real" life.

There are very many factors that may contribute to this attitude. I won't analyze them all here, but merely mention a couple. One is perhaps the emphasis in some circles on the fact that God accomplished all the work of salvation. And he has given it all to us as a free gift. While this is true, in its extreme form it can lead to a distrust of claiming any work as our own. And claiming that we need to live the Christian life could be construed as a work. Also an over emphasis on what is sometimes called "eternal security" can lead one to wonder why one should bother because the outcome is the same whether one matures as a believer or not.

But Jesus did not simply purchase for us a Get-Out-of-Hell-Free card. His life will not be imparted to us after death if it was not imparted to us before our death.

No, there is nothing I ever did our could have done that would have gained for me the life that Jesus bought for me on the Cross. It was all a free gift, given to me for no reason that I can discern other than the love of God working through his Son. In absolutely no way did I manage to earn his love; in no way did I manage to acquire the benefits of Jesus blood. He did it. All of it.

But, and this is a very big "but," what the Father sent his Son to Calvary to do, what Jesus sent his Spirit to seal me into, is LIFE. And because I have been given life, I must LIVE.

It has been said that life begins at fifty. I don't know, I'm not there yet. But if a child is born, not breathing, temperature falling, no pulse, etc., the family mourns the loss of their child. They do not put it in storage waiting for that magic moment, on it's fiftieth birthday, for the child to suddenly spring to life with grey hair and a bum knee from an old football injury.

Likewise, when we see conversions, or when we ourselves are converted, we should expect to see and experience life. We may not be able to adequately describe all of the signs of life, nor can we say that they will all be always discernable in each living member of Christ's body. Neither are they all and always discernable in our human bodies. All living humans breath, but when I hold my breath that does not mean that I am dead. Living humans feel warm to the touch. But not when they are climbing out of the ice after one of those crazy "polar bear swims." Nevertheless, any mature living human can distinguish another living human from a corpse. Just so in the community of believers there are signs of life.

This is not at all a call for us to "weed out" the "false brothers" from among us. Rather it is a very simple reminder that we were not brought from death to life so that we might sit in some Limbo until our bodies die so that our spirits can then float off into real life. Rather we were given life so that we would live it.

For some this earthly life is the beginning of eternal life, while for others it is the beginning of eternal death. If eternal life does not begin here it will not begin. Rather at the ends of our lives we will find that we move from life to life, or from death to death. "For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him."

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