This week my blog will be a reflection piece from the past two weeks. Since Matt preached on Sunday his blog (www.preachinmoose.wordpress.com) for this week will give deeper insight into his message on having our identity in Christ.
To start with I want to propose a question for you to answer either in your head or maybe even out loud – whatever works for you. Can you name at least one gift you received this past Christmas?
Follow-up question – how long did it take you to come up with an answer?
Personally, the answer was not immediate; it actually took me several seconds to think of an answer. Wonder why?
I will give you two potential answers from my perspective. First is that we simply have too much stuff around us to remember when we got what and for what occasion. Could it be possible that the fewer things we have the more we could attach meaning and memory?
Second is that we are a forward thinking people – not looking to the past we are pressing on into the future and that is demonstrated in our goals, our plans and our purchases. We aren’t reflecting on the value of what is past and received because we are straining forward to the next thing that we can attach value too.
I understand this is cynical as well as reality but is there the possibility of a new reality that births hope?
In Christian community I believe it happens when we create and name values that unify us.
– Belief in God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit
– Belief in salvation that come through the death of Jesus and new life that comes through his resurrection
– Belief that we learn to live the Christian way through study and application of the Bible
– Belief that we are called to serve each other and the world
– Belief that we are called to share the presence of Jesus through our words and deeds
These values are simple, express the Gospel and its call to new life, and could be adopted by any faith community. And they are values that draw us closer together IF…
– If we find ourselves worshipping God who is three in one INSTEAD of our idols
– If we claim the drama and pain of salvation INSTEAD of avoiding its profound and positive effects
– If we discipline ourselves to seek God’s wisdom and counsel first through scripture INSTEAD of looking to Steve Harvey, Dr. Phil, or the latest tabloid secret to whatever ails you
– If we would take serious the ministry we have committed ourselves to do in Christ’s name INSTEAD of pouting because no one is paying attention to or serving us
– If we would adopt the role of constantly revealing the very presence of Jesus to a hurting world INSTEAD of playing along with the harlot that we call our world and society
Yes these are strong words and images. Believe me when I say that I understand; just because I am a pastor, Christian thinker and would-be author does not mean that I live in a protected bubble that insulates or isolates me from the world and it’s influences. I have a verse that consistently goes off in my head – my mindset is the same as the Apostle Paul’s when I say as he did that “I am the chiefest of sinners.” I know my own darkness and the need for God’s light to constantly shine into my life. That is why these things are as difficult for me as they might be for you. It is a spiritual and physical battle BUT the rewards are eternal. AND they are a constant part of my life as I strive, “press on to the mark of the high calling that is found in Christ Jesus” that I might obtain His righteousness.
So where do we begin?
We begin in Christ. Because Jesus was victorious over death, we can be victorious over it as well. Our destination will no longer be eternal separation from God; it can be His presence now and in the life yet to come. But we have to find ourselves in Christ. Two thoughts:
– First our redemption is in Christ – what we could not do for ourselves, God has accomplished through Jesus Christ. Our way to forgiveness and righteousness has been paved and we are invited to take the journey.
– Second our resurrection is in Christ – on the last day we will be raised to inherit our place in God’s new kingdom.
So what values have you adopted for your life? If you aren’t sure then here is a quick test:
– Where do you spend the majority of your time and energy?
– What relationship(s) do you value and try to strengthen?
– Where do you spend your money?
– What was the last important conversation you had with someone? What was the subject matter?
I hope that God is working through Jesus Christ to either reinforce the good work that he has already begun in you OR change the answers to these questions. May we get a clearer picture of our identity in Him this Lent!
Blessings for the journey.