Living the Resurrection Life as the Body of Christ

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GOOD RISING

The first blog in my blogging ministry is called LIFE MATTERS based on the thought that “your life matters to God.”  It is cross-posted on both Blogger and Word Press.  The following post, which originally appeared Easter 2011, is the most popular of my posts on that site. – STEVE

I have a very good friend who is Greek Orthodox. Last week he offered me some words of blessing. He said it in Greek, but I won’t attempt to write in Greek. Roughly translated it means, “Good Rising.” Throughout Holy Week, Greek Orthodox people greet one another or bid each other good bye with these words, “Good rising.” They are words that anticipate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, They remind people to live in eager expectation for that occur.

On Easter the words change. “He is risen.”

For Christians, Easter is the most important day of the year. The Apostle Paul makes it very clear as to why:

“But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.’ – 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

The resurrection is the foundational event for the entire Christian experience. An empty cross reminds us that all of our sins have been forgiven. An empty tomb reminds us that nothing every again will separate us from God. Empty grave clothes in that tomb remind us that death no longer has the last word.

It is a reminder that there is Truth sets men from, that Truth is a person named Jesus Christ, I love this quote from Clarence Hall:

“Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.”

I love this cartoon by the late Johnny Hart:

 

This is the heart of my reflection for you on this Easter Monday. Christ has risen! May you know “good rising.”

I AM SYZYGUS

Normally I reserve this blog for original posts written by myself.  I was intrigued, however, by thus post from the archives of Charles Stone’s  THE CHURCH WHISPERER giving us an imaginative, but quite credible portrait of an original Easter Person who has always fascinated me. – Steve

 

I Am Syzygus

9 02 2010

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

(This is the second in a series of posts from Philippians 4 about church conflict)

Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow,help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Philippians 4:3

Have you ever thought about your name and wondered how it has shaped you or influenced you as a person?  I have…

syzygusMy name is Syzygus.  It is Greek.  There really isn’t a good English translation of it, but “yokefellow” comes pretty close.  It’s a bit of an embarrassing name, actually, because it is a reference to oxen in a yoke.  I have no idea what my parents were thinking.  But today, looking back on my life, I’m glad they named me Syzygus.  When I think of how God worked in my life, it fits.  I suppose it refers to a co-laborer wearing the same yoke as you, pulling along with you.  If there is any truth to the old adage that names do reflect something about us, then I am a true friend who has walked along with you during good times and bad times, never leaving your side.  I am a person who has been coupled with you through difficult service together.  I have grown to trust you and you have grown to trust me.  I am your “yokefellow”.

I suppose I was not surprised, then, when Paul called me out in his letter to my church in Philippi.  I had been yoked with him in ministry and had been yoked with Euodia and Syntyche as well.  I knew them well and they knew me and trusted me.  As much as I did not want this assignment, I was exactly the right person to confront them about their disagreement.  In his wisdom, Paul knew that.

I suspect Paul also knew that all of us in the church were a bit perplexed about what to do with these two sisters.  We knew their broken relationship had gotten out of hand, and we knew someone needed to love them enough to confront them about it, but none of us wanted to do it.  I suppose we were all hoping someone else would step up, or maybe by some miracle Paul himself would be released from prison and he would come and do it.  Hey, don’t laugh, it’s happened before.

But there would be no miraculous prison break this time.  One of us (or perhaps a few of us) in the church would have to step up and deal with this conflict.  Personally, I usually run from it.  I really hate conflict.  I don’t like getting up in other people’s business, I don’t like being perceived as judgmental, and I don’t like sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong.  Frankly, I can probably think of at least a dozen other excuses if you give me a little time.  Bottom line: none of us in the church wanted to do this, but we all knew it needed to be done.  Some argued it was the pastor’s job.  Others argued it was the elders’ job.  I was neither.  I was just someone who cared deeply for these two women, which is why Paul knew I was the right person to do this.  After all, if it were me who needed confronting, I would want it to be someone whom I trusted and who I knew loved me.  Why shouldn’t Euodia and Syntyche have the same benefit?

I pray that, when you need someone to tell you the truth about yourself, you will have a “Syzygus” in your life.  And I pray that, when someone you love needs a “Syzygus” in his/her life who will help him/her see the truth, you will step up and be that yokefellow for him/her.  I pray that, when God touches you on the shoulder with that assignment like Paul touched me, you will kneel down and pray and then go.  And I pray that God will use that experience to change your life the way He changed mine.

I am Syzygus.  And I am so very glad for that.

© Blake Coffee

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“I DO DEATH”

God has always blessed me with a sense of peace in the presence of death.  As a pastor I have stood by many a person and their family as the neared that threshold into eternity that is known as death.  I have even had the boldness and the God-granted confidence that God will take someone home to be with Him.  Funeral homes are not intimidating places.  ICUs are simply another place to be the reminder of God’s presence.  Even accident scenes, as gruesome as they may be, are not a place I fear to tread.

More than once I have been asked to accompany someone to a funeral home.  In hospital rooms where siblings are fighting and grieving while Mom breathes, God has allowed me to be His presence and to anchor them once again to the Rock of our Salvation.

Once I was with a family at the hospital after their father had been taken in following a serious heart attack accompanied by other complications. He had made his living will several years before and had given me a copy. He had explained very carefully to his family that once he reached a semi-vegetative state with his organs only surviving on life support, there were to be no extraordinary measures taken.  This was the third trip within a few months and each one had become progressively worse. He was in a coma, non-responsive with only a 10% survival chance and no chance that his organs would operate again without serious and costly assistance.  The family had made their peace and said “good bye” and indicated that they were prepared to adhere to the living will.  Then the doctor balked saying he’d like another day before withdrawing life support,  which then itself sent the family into a crisis mode.  And I had to duty to talk the doctor into adhering to the patient’s wishes, the family’s consent and to surrender his feeling that he could not be at peace with allowing a dying man to die.  And this I did without hesitation and inner strength.

“I do death.”

No, that does not mean I advocate assisted suicide or callously consent to agreeing to let a patient die because his survival could bankrupt his family.

It’s because I know that one someone has placed their trust into God’s hands of salvation, when I myself have become one of His Easter People – that nothing will separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.  I affirm with the apostle Paul that we who have passed from death to life need no longer fear death.  It is not an unwelcome intruder.  Death has been defanged by our Living Hope.

“Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:54 New Living Translation

So when someone must walk in the deep valley of  the shadow of death, they can count on me as a willing travel companion.

(C) 2011 by Stephen L Dunn

HELL AND HEAVEN

What happens when you die? Many people today simply believe in a concept called annihilation. You simply cease to exist.  The only thing that lives on is your memory or your legacy; but for you, personally, life is over–no tomorrow nor eternity … you are simply gone.

In some sense, that’s a comforting thought–when it’s over it is over.

Unfortunately it’s not true. The Bible teaches us a hard reality–there is a very real heaven and a very real hell. Not Hell as a metaphor but as a state of existence for eternity.

Popular images of hell like to play up the lake of fire dimension of Hell. A place of eternal torment. The Bible does speak of Hell in this way. But the most powerful image of Hell to me is that it is the place of eternal separation from God. God who is life, love, hope and more will not be where you have chosen to be. That’s a torment far greater than pain inflicted upon my body – even if that physical pain is eternal.

Easter People do not fear Hell but neither do they forget it. They have been delivered from it by the power of the Cross of Jesus Christ. They will be eternally united with Him. The resurrection is the evidence that they will not be separated from God.

But since they what they truly means and they know how, but for God’s grace, that would have been their destiny–they fear that others whom they love might have Hell as their eternal destiny. Easter People live with a compulsion, that no one should have that tragic destiny.

The apostle Paul said it best:

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 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. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

THE RESURRECTION LIFE

” … we’re not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying. We’re in the land of the dying, trying to get to the land of the living.” – Larry Moody

I resonate with this observation by golfer and Christian teacher, Larry Moody which was quoted by Paul Azinger at the memorial service for another great golfer and Christian, Payne Stewart.

Too many of us live as if Christ came, died, and was raised from the dead – but nothing has changed.  Perhaps it is because we still must live in the presence of sin and sin always brings our focus to death, not life.  But the apostle Paul reminds us eloquently that things have changed, at least for those of us who have surrendered our lives to Jesus Christ.

“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.” – Roman 6:5-10

Do we truly understand what that means? We have been delivered by the grace of God from the penalty of our sin. We are not longer separated from him, but united with him and his righteousness.  We must live in the presence of sin until Jesus returns, but sin no longer has any power over us – except the power that we give to that sin.

Because Christ is now living in us and through us – we have the power to resist that sin.  We no longer need a life of shame or regrets. We are no longer victims, but overcomers.  We are now people who possess the righteousness of God so that we can be on mission with Jesus.

Life now has eternal purpose. And life now will be rewarded with life eternal.

Are you living a resurrection life, or do you still live as if you are forever in the valley of the shadow of death?