In Everlasting Love
Over the next several weeks, I will be fleshing out the Brief Statement of Faith of the PCUSA. It appears last in the PCUSA’s Book of Confessions, as it is the most recent. I hope my meditations will help you, dear reader grow in faith in God and deepen your walk with Christ. Even if you don’t consider yourself Presbyterian, I think they will help you. As always, it is my hope that my reflections will nourish you no matter what you are, even if you are of no faith.
So far, I have reflected on how we belong to God, who this God is we belong to and its implications to our faith and life. We have reflected on who Jesus is and why we can and should trust him with our life. We have reflected on what it really means to trust in God. This belonging and trusting is not a passive activity but an active movement towards real life.
This week, I will look at a short section of the Brief Statement of Faith that meditates on God’s love and what the love of God has done through Israel and Jesus.
Through Abraham, God would bless all of humanity and in hearing Israel’s cry and delivering them from bondage showed that He is a God who loves and cares. The story of Israel is the story of how God became King, how God saved humanity from all the fumbling detours we took from Adam to Jesus. In Jesus dying on the cross, the whole story was fulfilled and revealed. The first Christians saw in the story of Jesus the culmination of the saving story of God. We are to share the story of Jesus with everyone inviting them into the Kingdom as students of Jesus Messiah.
Receiving the inheritance that comes to us in Christ involves sharing in his suffering, the catalyst to sharing in His glory. We are never promised that we won’t suffer and struggle, but we are promised life to the full. If Jesus the son of God and the full representation of the Father suffered even unto death on a cross, how can we imagine that we won’t endure pain. If Jesus shaped his life to the will of the Father, shouldn’t we also do the same?
When we abandon what we want for what God wants, forgive others instead of punishing them than we are suffering for Christ, no longer is our ego in control, but God is. Forgiving others is releasing the false notion that we are special and people need to be punished for treating us badly. When someone does something wrong correction is needed, but to punish is to dwell on those actions, to be trapped in and by the past. We forgive others in gratitude for the forgiveness and grace offered to us by Jesus. Christians do not put themselves before others. Jesus on the cross prayed for forgiveness for those who put him there. He didn’t curse them, but forgave them.
A key attribute of a Christian is forgiveness, because that is a key attribute of Jesus.
When we pray God’s will be done and mean it, we will endure suffering that will transform us into more Christ-like Christians.
Abandoning lusts and desires does not mean that we will not enjoy life, in some ways we will enjoy life more. By centering our lives on the values of the Kingdom, we will make life more carefree and simple. Anxiety for tomorrow only increases the undue pressures on our life. We need to live in the present not worrying what tomorrow will bring. When we trust God and know that we belong to God, we will not fear or worry only love and serve, as Jesus did.
Life with Christ must have both suffering and joy. We are to enjoy God, to glorify in God, and to spread joy and hope to others. Just as suffering is other centered, so is glory and joy. It is not just about us, but others. Salvation is life; it is both personal and communal.
Everything we do, from taking out the trash, to holding the door open, to hanging out with a friend, parenting, looking for our life partner, teaching a class, browsing Facebook should be done to the glory of God. How we live our lives is as important if not more so than where we go Sunday morning. We can and should worship God with our whole lives not just on Sunday mornings in a building designed for that purpose. People call where Sunday service is held sanctuary and consider it more holy, making it more special than the rest of creation. I think it is special, but so are an ordinary garden, the library, a parking lot, a street corner, and our homes. All of it is holy and good because God made it and God is present.
Christians are not dominated by the flesh but are under the rule of Christ. Though the body is still subject to death, life prevails because united with Christ we live to and with God. We stop living for our own happiness and seek to bless others with our life. This is how God created us to live. Life with God is not about escaping this world to some otherworldly paradise, but making this world as it is in heaven. Being citizens of heaven means bringing heaven to earth. We repent, turn from the life we were living and trust that God knows what he is doing that by embracing God’s grace, we will live the life we have always wanted to live.
If God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into our life, He’ll do the same thing in us that He did in Jesus, causing us to live vibrant fresh life. When God lives and breathes in us, as surely as he did in Jesus, we are delivered from dead life to eternal life. God makes us into the people we are to be and live the life we are meant to live. This is done not because we deserve it, but because we trust, God to do what Jesus promised he would do. In trusting God, making God our center we live into the grace lavished on us. As Spirit-filled, Christ-centered, and God-glorifying people, we are on the way to life eternal; death is only an interlude that all must pass through on the way to the Kingdom.
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