"Life Among The Living"
John 10:10; 2 Corinthians 5:16-17; Philippians 4:4-8
Pastor Tom Millner
Last week we challenged our thinking about seeking life among the dead. We challenged the false hopes that if we just had enough love (as we believe we need to see love) or if we can just create ourselves to reflect all the goodness of our expressions, we'd have a rich and full life. We concluded; "that dog don't hunt!"
So if life is not to be found among the dead promises of love lost and regained, and a world self-created, where are we to look? Today we'll explore not only where to look but also where to live. In John's Gospel today we read; John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." The thief, folks, is the illusion that we are always (or need to be) in control, have everything be beautiful in its own way, or that if it makes me feel good (even if for a moment), then do it! It's the same thief that said to Eve; "You will not surely die, the serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Gen 3:4-5. So then, Adam and Eve and all generations since have believed the lie that there are no consequences to doing our own thing and being our own creation (our own god). We don't even like hearing these words because we feel we've been so suppressed and beaten down by the legalist of the so called evangelical right. So the thief would have us believe that the baby is just a part of the bathwater that needs to be thrown out, poured down the drain, or otherwise discarded. So we toast with our apple martini as we hum the tune "I Did It My Way." We repeat the garden scenario and blame an oppressive world, government, religion, each other, and even God for the consequences of our choices. Time to get out of that grave, folks! The new Adam has arrived who bore all the consequences of everyone's poor choices, rectified the rebellion against what is pure and holy, and was re-birthed after dying to those things. When we accept that, folks, the new Adam lives in us, crafting a new creation in His image – the image of Christ. What do we do with this?
2 Corinthians 5:16-17 "So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" Paul goes on to say in verse 19 "that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them." Folks, this IS the Good News (Gospel) of Jesus Christ. Christ didn't come to make us rich and famous, (He's not concerned with possessions or human recognitions – neither for nor against) nor did He come to make us like the rest of the world (He's perfectly satisfied with how He created us); He came to restore the relationship with God that has been broken by our own self will. New creation – created anew- recreated!
In the original creation account God created humans in His own image. God's perfect plan for us was to always be reflecting that divine image. When mankind decided we could do it like God, that image was forever broken. You see, the created can never be the creator – there's only room for one creator. This act of human rebellion still goes on today. It's rampant even in churches! We rebel against the Word of God and we put Him second, third, or fourth in our lives – wherever we can fit Him in. We create all sorts of idols that take our full attention – we call it self-esteem, relationship, obligation, survival – whatever we choose to name that which comes before Him in our lives. God knew we would never get it on our own, so He devised a plan that would give us a chance at new life. So, God sent the second Adam – Christ, who did it the divine way. His character was like His heavenly Father. He took upon Himself the weight of selfishness of all humanity – past, present, and future. He was crushed under its weight, but He was not destroyed. He overcame the grave and lives victorious today – not in some remote and obscure village in Tibet, but in the hearts and lives of every single one of us who believes in Him. Because of Him we are new creations – in His image… When God looks at us, He sees Christ. What Paul is reminding us in His writing today is that when we acknowledge that we are new creations in Him (being created anew) we act out of the new creation that we are, not out of that to which we have died. I dare say there are few of us who can honestly profess that we do even a fair job of living out of the new creations we are each day. It's against our old nature and it's a battle. We, folks, are not defeated in this battle. It has already been won for us!! We are called to seek the victory each and every moment of each and every day. We are called to conform to the image of Christ – His character. (Romans 12:12) So often, however, we seek to recreate Him in our own image. That's playing in the graveyard again.
The scripture has guidance for us through Paul's letter to the Philippians. Philippians 4:4-8 "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."