2014-06-06 - His Death & Our Life
Part 2 ~ Jesus Died so We Can Live
Okay, so all of this has been very academic, but so what? Well because he took every bit of our punishment, in order to "reconcile us to God" (Ephesians 2:14-16) "in accordance with the eternal purpose which he carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ephesians 3:11), we can begin to comprehend "the breadth and length and height and depth [and] know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge" (Ephesians 3:18-19). And all of this brings us to the "Therefore" in Ephesians 4:1. You see - it is because of his death - that we can live our life. Let's re-read Ephesians 4:1-3:
Ephesians 4:1-3 (NASB)
We understand why Christ died, so now we can can consider the question: How do we live?
First, in verse one, we see we are to live worthy of the calling. In other words, have an attitude of gratitude. Because you were worth saving, act like you are saved. Worthy is literally "bringing up the other beam of the scales". You say something, so act that way - balance your profession and your practice.
Justin will be turning six soon. I regularly call him a "big boy" or my "little man". When he whines or says he can't do something, I assure him that he is a "big boy, and that he needs to act like one. Jordan, on the other, hand at thirteen is turning into a "young man, and with that comes "young man" activities like doing his chores without being told every one of them, every day. I tell him he is a young man, and must act responsibly for himself. This is saying the same thing; if you are a follower of Jesus, then act like you're following him. Do the things he did, and don't act like a whiny little baby.
Paul thought this concept was important enough to mention to multiple congregations to whom he wrote. As well as Ephesus, he said similar things to Thessalonica and Philippi.
Philippians 1:27 (NASB) - Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel;
Next, verse two says we are to live with humility, gentleness, patience, and tolerance. Humility means the opposite of pride. It means knowing ourselves, accepting ourselves, and being ourselves to the Glory of God. Gentleness (or meekness) is power under control. J. Vernon McGee defines meekness as "a willingness to stand and do the will of God regardless of the cost. Meekness is bowing yourself to the will of God." Patience is the ability to put up with provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain without complaint or loss of temper. Put another way, the Holman New Testament Commentary defines patience as "believing God's timetable is good, no matter what it is." Lastly, tolerance is overlooking differences and enduring them for the long-term. It is lovingly putting up with stuff that might drive you nuts about other people. To me, these call to mind the fruit of the spirit and the definition of love in 1 Corinthians.
Thirdly, verse three says we are to live our lives watching to preserve the unity of the Spirit. In John 17, Jesus prayed that we the church might be united as one so that the world might know God's love by our actions, not just our word. We don't make the unity; that is the work of the Holy Spirit, but we do preserve or maintain it.
"California's giant sequoias have roots just barely below the surface of the ground. That seems impossible. If the roots don't grow deep into the Earth, it seems that they would blow over in a strong wind. But not sequoias. They grow only in groves, and the roots intertwine under the Earth's surface. So, when the strong winds come, they hold one another up. There's a lesson there. People are like the giant sequoias. We need to grow in groves. Our roots are just below the surface. Standing alone, the winds of life would blow us over like a cheap umbrella. We need to intertwine our roots, our lifelines, with the others. Then when the strong winds of life blow, they have to take all of us, or they can't take any of us. If there are enough of us, the winds can't blow that hard. We'll stand, in groves, and grow toward the sun." (Holman New Testament Commentary)
In times like those that we face now, we are in much need of unity. Let us watch to preserve it, as we move forward as a church. In closing, Jesus would rather go to Hell for you, than live in Heaven without you.
Romans 5:8 - But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
He died for us; let us live for him.
All scripture references are from the KJV unless otherwise noted.
Note: This devotional is based on a sermon that I preached for Easter 2014. It was my first time playing in the Super Bowl of all Sundays, so I enjoyed preparing and preaching it, and hope you will enjoy it as it is reincarnated as a devotional now.