Thursday, January 28, 2016

Servant-Slave Symbolism

How much more can Paul have to say about the same thing?

There is only one gospel.  Do not compromise it, modify it, or corrupt it.

The law is not my master. I am crucified with Christ. Christ lives in me.

The law gets us to Christ.  In Christ I am truly free to live the life that God wants me to live.  Why would I want to go backwards to making rules and regulations my master?

Getting this point across to these believers in Galatia was very important to Paul so he followed the age old adage of speakers and writers.  Talk a lot about a little.  Use as many illustrations, examples, and analogies as it takes to make your point.

So Paul comes to what amounts to a chapter of analogies.  Paul didn’t write with chapter breaks so his discussion here really is a continuation of in Christ we are neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free person, or even male nor female.  We are one. 

We are not a composite of men and women or ethnic origins or social status.  This is not a description of a melting pot.  This isn’t an averaging thing.  It is not a unisex thing.  We are one in that we are children of the promise.  We are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.  In Christ we are all blessed to be God’s children.  We are heirs.

Now Paul turns to his first analogy.  A child that is an heir is not treated as an adult heir.  He has masters and in many ways seems like a slave even though he is an heir.  Until the time is right, until the kid comes of age, he will not enjoy the fullness of his inheritance.

Is Paul talking about the Galatians?  Not really, he is talking about humankind.  In this journey that is humankind, we have been kids for most of the journey.  We have had governors and trustees and things like the law.  We as people have never known the fullness of our relationship with God until…

 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

All that Paul left off was to say, “Merry Christmas.”  These two short verses are Paul’s Christmas story.  It is not quite as short as John’s, And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, but is surely a succinct account.

So now, we are no longer a slave but God’s child and an heir.  This is our new nature.  The Spirit of God himself lives in us and we cry out to God as we would our father:  Abba, Daddy, Father.

Next, Paul makes analogy to the way the Galtians lived before.  This was not according to the Law of Moses but according to the worldly precepts of their time.  Surely this involved the worship of idols and rituals.  There has never really been a shortage of false gods in the world and the Galatians had filled their quota.  They had been slaves to falsehood.

But they were under attack by these Jews who said they followed Christ but really wanted their religion back, not go go back to the pagan lifestyle they knew before but to the lifestyle the Jews knew before.  The Galatians were being asked to return to a place they had never been—slaves to the law.

The Jewish believers were pressuring the Galatian believers to observe the festivals of the Lord.  There is nothing wrong with observing these festivals—they are for the Lord’s people, but the motivation was wrong.

These people who wanted their religion back were pressuring the Galatians to live by this Jesus Plus Gospel, which as Paul said from the beginning is not gospel at all.  They were passionate about it but their passion was misplaced and very selfish.  They were losing status in the world and they wanted it back.  Perhaps like the workers in the vineyard that worked all day, they thought they deserved more for following the law all of their lives.

Paul surely not convinced that he has made his point goes to yet another analogy.  Father Abraham had many sons, but he started with two:  Ishmael and Isaac.

Ishmael came by a servant girl because Abraham and Sarah thought that maybe God needed a little help fulfilling his promise.  Then came Isaac who was exactly what God had promised.  This was a story that every Jew had learned from an early age and now the Galatians had been educated to some extent.

Paul, however, attaches some symbolism to these two sons.  The first, Ishmael, was not a son of the promise.  He represents slavery.  He represents the law and what those who held power in Jerusalem wanted.

Isaac, however, did represent the promise and freedom.  Paul says that we are not children of the slave woman but of the free woman.  If we continued into the next chapter, Paul would become instructive again and command:  Do not take the yoke of slavery again!

Do not take the yoke of slavery again!  In the previous chapter, Paul challenged these Galatian believers.  Why would you even think about trying to live by a law that was designed to point you to the freedom you have already been given by faith?

It seems that Paul is driving home the same point over and over and over again.  He is using a variety of explanations, but he is doing every long distance thing that he can think of to keep these new believers faithful to the gospel.

So I ask us to think to Paul’s commissioning to go into the world as an apostle.  Think to the words that Jesus spoke to Ananias, who did not want to this despicable man and restore his sight and baptize him.

 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.  I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Think to how much Paul suffered.  He was beaten, stoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked and snakebit, and run out of just about every town he preached in.  Now that is suffering for the name of Jesus.

But what about having led a group of people to the truth, to the Lord, to the gospel and then being far away and hearing that they are listening to another gospel.  You know that there is no other gospel but somehow, someone was started chipping away at their foundation.

Now you are fulfilling the mission that the Lord himself has given you.  You continue to preach the word in season and out of season and one day will pass that guidance on to a protégée and to the world, but you are hurting.  You are suffering because these believers who heard and received the truth from you, not because you were a great orator, but because the Spirit of the Lord worked among them, are now falling away.

They were accepting some additions to the gospel.  They were diluting the blood of Jesus as not being enough to make them right with God.

I don’t think that Paul enjoyed being snakebit or stoned but I believe he might have rather suffered another episode of one or the other than to feel these believers who had know only freedom in Christ slipping away into slavery.

Can we relate to this?

Parents who know their kids are hurting but can’t be there suffer in this way.

Teachers who see their former students corrupted by the world know this suffering.

Commanders who are separated from their men who are under attack know this feeling.

Pastors and elders who see so many slip away from the Body of Christ into this state of being disconnected know this pain.

Paul had only a letter to bring these children home.  He admonished, equipped, explained, and explained again and again; using every literary tool he could muster.

I have no doubt that Paul suffered for the name of Jesus as he wrote this letter, but he didn’t throw a pity party.  He employed the gifts that the Lord had given him to the fullest extent that he could and he did his best to call these brothers and sisters home.  He did his best to lead them back to the truth.

We don’t live in a time where people pressure Christians to participate in the Feast of Weeks or lose your salvation. Most modern day Christians accept, at least intellectually, this whole once saved, always saved doctrine.

We like the fact that Jesus paid it all.  We like having our sins taken away at no cost to us.  Sometimes we do some bargaining with God or place rules upon ourselves on top of our salvation, but overall, most modern day Christians like the fact that the blood of Jesus did everything.

But we share something in common with Paul.  We suffer for the name of Jesus in the same way he suffered for these Galatians. We see so many people who have accepted this free gift of salvation who have fallen away from gathering together to worship and serve the Lord.

We see so many disconnected from the body of Christ.  We see these people at work or at Walmart or at the ball game but not worshiping our Lord, and not serving our Lord as a vital part of the body of Christ.

For those who love the Lord, I think our pain for those whom we know that have slipped into apathy and ambivalence as their response to the love of God that we know in Christ Jesus, know what it is to suffer for the name of Jesus.

We have neither been flogged nor have we been shipwrecked, but we hurt all the same.

The people that I am talking about are right there in our paths but they have lost their way.

Many have good jobs, nice homes, and at least a couple nice vehicles, but they have lost their way.  Their salvation is intact but their response to this wonderful gift is apathy and ambivalence.

They sing Jesus Paid it All but skip over the verse, all to him I owe.

In response to this wonderful gift of life that comes by way of the blood of Jesus, their response is to worship the things of this world.  We do not condemn them.  We call them home.

We don’t minister to others to obtain our salvation.  We love our neighbor in response to the incredible love of God that we know in Christ Jesus.  And when we do this as an active part of a family of faith, we grow.

We grow in grace!

We grow in grace, knowing full well that we will make mistakes and that God will just keep on loving us as we learn from them.

We grow.  Every living thing that God made is designed to grow, but the Christian who accepts this fantastic gift of God’s undeserved forgiveness, love, and favor and does not respond in love and faith and obedience, remains a child.  They remain a child that is not ready to receive the fullness of their inheritance.

The Christian that gives in to apathy and ambivalence or busyness remains a child and never knows the fullness of being God’s child—of growing up as God’s child wrapped completely in his love and mercy and compassion and full of his strength and power, and yes even a sound mind.

They never know what it is to be fully loved.  They never know the fullness of the blessing that we who grow in God’s grace know more and more each day.

And they never know that we suffer for the name of Jesus when we can’t reach them.  So we are left to do what Paul did with the Galatians.  Which is?

Everything we know how to do to call these people home.  We use our freedom in Christ to call people home and pray that they use their freedom to come home.

We will get there in the next chapter, but here is a preview.  I give you this preview because we have had a healthy dose of theology so far, but we are going to get into some discipleship straightaway.  

We are to use our Freedom that we have in Christ not to indulge our selfish and sinful nature but to serve one another in love.  The entire law is summed up in love one another.  The essence of all of God’s direction and directives is that we love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.

We do this individually and we do this as the body working together.  We are God’s children but know because we are growing in God’s grace that we are ruled and fueled by God’s Spirit and not by governors or trustees or the law.  We are not treated as slaves or as those not trusted to manage our own affairs, but are free to fully live and truly be God’s love in this world.

Let’s take that love with the same intensity and diversity and creativity that Paul had and call those who have lost their way to come home.

Come home.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Seed Syntax

I warned you that we would get a little theology as we read Paul’s letters.  In chapter 3 we also get a little grammar and syntax.  That in itself might send a few people running.  Consider the nuances of our own language.

We drive on parkways and park on driveways.
If you transport something by car it is called a shipment but if you send it by ship it is called cargo.
Why does quicksand work slowly and why are boxing rings square?
Writers write but fingers don’t fing and hammers don’t ham. 
There is neither pine nor apple in pineapple.
If vegetarians eat only vegetables then what do humanitarians eat?

Language is fun stuff.  Isn’t it interesting that how much often hangs in the balance in understanding our own language in written form, not even trying to interpret tone and inflection and mood when the words are read aloud.

Now try to understand the idioms and rhythms and syntax of language used centuries and millennia ago.

Paul takes a unique stand on the promise given to Abraham.  He said that it was given to his “seed” and not his “seeds.”  The Hebrew word is lə·zar·‘ă·ḵā and by most definitions means seed and seeds or just offspring. 

Perhaps Paul had a little better understanding of this promise and the language of his day than we do today, though he was surely blinded to it while hunting down Christians in the name of doing God’s will.  Perhaps his mastery of the Semitic lexicons was such that he could make this distinction. 

The real question is, why would the Galatians even care?

They were called out of the Gentile world to life in Christ.  Being Abraham’s children was something that had not been important to them for all of their lives as it was in the Jewish culture.

They didn’t grow up singing, Father Abraham had many sons…

But they were part of the promise now.  It was a promise that was so important to the Hebrew People—to God’s Chosen People.  Now they were a part of it.

God had known and revealed to Abraham long ago that all of the people of the world would be blessed and saved through what God would do through him and his line.  Jesus Christ was always the way to right living with God.

Between Abraham and Jesus were periods of captivity.  First there was the physical captivity in Egypt.  Then came captivity to the law. 

The law as not bad; it just was not liberating.  But just as God used Moses to liberate the people from bondage in Egypt; he also used Jesus to liberate us from sin and death.

The law showed us the boundaries of sin and death.  The law defined the confines of our sinful existence.  Jesus came to liberate us—to set us free.

The Galatians had come to believe in Jesus.  It was not a logical process.  It was not a cultural process.  It was not a natural part of their Celtic history.  It was by faith that they had come to believe.

Now they were part of a wonderful promise given by God long ago to a very special man named Abraham; and some people who wanted their religion back came along and said that Abraham not Jesus was the real foundation of this new found way.

Back to the question, why would the Galatians even care about grammar and syntax and seed and seeds?  Maybe Paul was equipping the Galatians to contend with these know-it-all Jews that said they were following Jesus but really just wanted their religion back.

The real issue for these young believers revolved around a little self awareness.  Paul asked:  Did you receive the Spirit of God by following a checklist or complying with rules or was it by your belief in Jesus Christ?

He challenged them:  Does God do mighty acts among you because you got high marks on your Law of Moses test or because you believe the good news?

The Law was something that got people from Abraham to Jesus but it could never liberate them from sin and from death.    Even the right standing of Abraham with God came from his belief not from his resume or his track record.

The law was never given in conflict to the promise of God to Abraham and that ultimately comes to us.  The law showed us how much we needed to be reconciled to God but it could not get us there.  Only Christ could get us there by taking all of our inequity upon himself—cursed for us if you will—so that we might live in right standing with God.

But all of this wonderful, good as new relationship with God came through belief not compliance.

So Paul challenges these Galatian Christians:  Why would you even think about trying to live by a law that was designed to point you to the freedom you have already been given by faith?

That’s just backwards.  That’s upside down, inside out—that dog just don’t hunt.

You foolish Galatians!  Or does that translate into you foolish Americans?

How many of us came to Christ in high school?  We were getting our classes lined out for the next year.  I need algebra, chemistry, English, oh and let’s take salvation this year.  It would be good to checked that off early.

That’s not how it happens.  The Spirit moves in us and we respond with a profession of faith.  This isn’t mental or emotional.  It is a led by the Spirit beginning to a new life.

Sometimes we are so Spirit filled in the beginning that people get out of our way.  “Oh she’s got it bad.”

“Look out.  Here he comes.  He’s going to be praising God and talking Jesus.”

Some are more timid at first and gradually explore this Spirit of God that lives within us, but it was the Spirit that led us to this relationship.

But at some point, most believers hit a point in their lives where they want rules or regularity or predictability or routine.  We want our faith to be comfortable.  We like to know what is next.  Perhaps that explains much of the interest in end times events.

Perhaps comfort and complacency are the modern equivalent of the Galatians dealing with the Law of Moses.  We start out led by the Spirit but eventually we gravitate to something more predictable.

We like practical. We like predictable patterns.  We like known quantities.  Tangible things appeal to us.

Paul is admonishing the Galatians in the same way that John conveyed the words of Jesus to the church at Ephesus.

Repent and do the things that you did at first!
Remember the height from which you have fallen and repent.
Dance with the one who brung ya.  Okay, that’s a stretch, but not too much.

Our new found relationship with God began in the Spirit.  In some cases we have suffered through some trials because we have been faithful to following Jesus.  Led by the Spirit we have stayed the course of following Jesus.

Why now, would we want to trade all of that in for rules and regulations, statutes and signs in the flesh, for comfort and complacency?

Just when we finally start to live and live in the liberty of Christ Jesus, why would we want slavery?

In the 21st century it’s not because of people wanting us to follow the Law of Moses.  It is fear.  It is fear that God’s Spirit will urge us to do something that we have never done before.

Rules are easy.  If P, then Q.  A plus B = C.  Slope equals rise over run.

Rules are easy and we gravitate to them but they are not living.  They are existing with a master other than the Lord Jesus Christ.  They are too much like existing under the law.

Jesus came so we could live.  Paul makes his grammar and syntax case for one purpose—to show that everything has been leading us to Christ, including the law.

The law is not our master.  Christ alone is Lord and Master.

And in Christ we have freedom.  In Christ we are one.  We have freedom and unity in Christ.

Let’s not be foolish Galatians but wise Christians who value the liberty and honor the unity that we have in Christ Jesus.

We don’t contend with people trying to cram the Law of Moses in our lives.  We contend with our own nature that becomes a bit dogmatic and blinds us to the freedom that we should enjoy and employ in the name of Christ Jesus.

We are finally free to live as God wants us to live.  Let’s not retreat.  Let’s go forward in freedom and unity.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Crucified with Christ

In conjunction with chapter one, we discovered a little about Paul.  As we take on this second chapter, let’s learn something of the Galatians.

We know that Galatia was in Asia Minor, probably in present day Turkey.  The Galatians, however, were transplants.  They were Celts that had come to this part of the world mostly as mercenaries, perhaps 20,000 of them about three centuries before Paul wrote to them.

They occupied land and perhaps expanded their territory somewhat over the centuries.  When the Romans became the dominant power, the Galatians initially opposed them, but later decided there were benefits to supporting the empire.

These Celts—the same tribes that for a time dominated France and Britain—came to be called Gauls as they were mostly associated with what is now France, and hence the term Galatians.

Their government changed from tribal representation to kingship and perhaps even to a totalitarian form over the centuries. 

This account is sometimes disputed.  Some historians believe that the Galatians were just a diverse consortium of various ethnicities in Asia Minor.  History is not always an exact science and is sometimes subject to revision.
What is not subject to revision is the gospel. 

Some of these people called Galatians had come to believe in Christ and Paul’s letter revolved around two concepts that we must grasp today:  freedom and unity in Christ.

Paul explained to the Galatians that the gospel was not up for negotiation, regardless of anyone’s standing or perceived standing in the church.  Peter, James, and John had all walked with Jesus and were already pillars of this new faith; but Paul drove home the point that God doesn’t care what your rank or title or status among men is.

Paul recounts a run-in that he had with Peter over being hypocritical in his conduct when Jews were present.  Paul said, “I called him out on it.”

You can almost chuckle through this part of the letter.  The big boys were getting a little worldly having to defend their turf, which wasn’t their turf at all.  Of course, Paul also recounts what is essentially an endorsement by Peter and James.

In Paul’s perspective of the world that the Lord has set his apostles upon, Peter was to work mainly with the Jews and Paul was to go unto the gentiles.  Now we know that Peter also went to the gentiles and Paul typically visited the Jews first in whatever part of the gentile world he happened to be in at the time.

We need to understand that we get a little first person, historical narrative from Paul mixed in with the theology of this emerging faith.  These are the early days of the church.  There is no Bible with 66 books.  There is no curriculum to order from Standard Publishing.  There were no Standard Operating Procedures, Policies and Procedures, or even Rules of Engagement.  These followers of the resurrected Jesus didn’t even have a Facebook page.

This was led by the Spirit go be the salt of the earth evangelism.  This is dive in headfirst ministry.  And sometimes, the apostles bumped heads. 

We get Paul’s account of this head bumping and with good reason.  Peter, James, and even John had acquired some distinction among believers but perhaps none of the apostles was more tuned in to ministering to the gentile world than was Paul.  The man who had spent his entire life learning to be a Jew among Jews was now the chief advocate for the gospel that was for all men.

It’s a little ironic, don’t you think.  The men from Galilee—not Jerusalem Central—but these quasi outcasts now that they obtained some status as apostles were becoming a little dogmatic.  All the while, this Zealous Pharisee who surely thought that he could obtain righteousness by upholding the law, was now pleading the case for the gentile world.

For the law or the sign in the flesh to be essential to salvation was to say that Christ died in vain.  Paul presents a basic dichotomy that every believer must reconcile.

Either the blood of Jesus was powerful enough to cover all of our sin or it was not.

There is no middle ground.  There is no option C or hybrid model for the gospel.

And so we come to this wonderful word—faith.  It has a variety of meanings even within Paul’s writings.  Jesus used the word often.  The author of Hebrews said: 

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 

Here is another translation, this one from The Message.

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. 

Paul said that he had been crucified with Christ.  We know this to be a metaphor.  Paul was not on a fourth cross just behind the other three.  He is saying that his faith in the one gospel is so solid it is as if he were on a cross next to Jesus.

Paul tells us that he put all of his eggs in one basket—the gospel of truth.  He did not hedge his bet in any way.  This gospel of peace and love and salvation was in Christ alone and his faith in it was such that it was if he had truly died in everything that he was before.

The law, men of distinction, rules, protocols, signs in the flesh, and anything else that men held in the highest regard could never come before his relationship with Christ.

To add anything to the gospel was absurd.  This is from the man who if righteousness could have been obtained by the law would have been there long ago.  Saul would have been the only name that we ever knew this man by and would have never written a book in the Bible.  He would have ordered the Tee Shirt that said:  RIGHTEOUSNESS – BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, GOT HE TEE SHIRT!

The race that Paul ran as a Pharisee enslaved by the law was like trying to run a marathon on a treadmill.  You just don’t get anywhere. You can log in 26 plus miles but you don’t get anywhere.

But in Christ, we truly run a race of faith, and we get traction and progress and even a wrong turn here and there, but know that we resume our race because of God’s grace not because of some external action that does what the blood of Jesus couldn’t handle.

Our faith is in Christ alone.  We die to the world, we die with Christ, and we trade in our every contingency plan and put our faith in Christ alone. 
Christ lives in us!

This is the message that we should take from this part of Paul’s letter.  We begin with assurance of our salvation through Christ alone.  There is no other gospel and we turn away from the world by faith in God’s grace that we know in Christ.

Our faith is real even though it is one of those intangible quantities that’s hard to see or feel or taste or measure.  We are people who like to count and measure but faith does not subscribe to metrics.  But we know our faith to be so real that it is as if we had died with Christ.  It is as if we were one of the thieves on the crosses that flanked Jesus.

We have come to the point where we can say:  I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

We proclaim the good news that we know in John 3:16 every Sunday and on several other days as well.  God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

That’s quite a promise.  Our part is to accept this incredible gift by faith.    We believe and in so doing die to the world.

Sometimes we struggle because we still live in the world.  We have died to the world but we still live in the world.

We still need to keep our job, but our job must not become our God.

We still need to go to school, but it must not supplant Christ.

We still need to eat and drink but what we eat and drink and when we do it must not come before Christ.

We very much need to heed the words of Jesus as we study Paul’s letter.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

While theologically we might try to separate our salvation and our discipleship, the former should take us seamlessly to the latter.  Faith in this gospel of salvation should empty us of the world and fill us with Christ.

Many of us want to say that Christ lives in me, but we have a hard time loving our neighbor; don’t even think about asking me to love my enemy.

We want to say that we died with Christ, but we might just have some old habits or thinking that doesn’t want to die.

We would like to get to the point where we can say, “I am crucified with Christ,” but we just have some “stuff” that we won’t let go of.  That stuff is not going to the cross with us.

It seems like that we may never get to the point where we can say, “it is not me but Christ who lives in me.”  This seems like a bridge too far.  It seems like a state which we can never reach.

And I would say that we have put the cart before the horse.  For the generations that don’t use that literary analogy any more—we are doing it all backwards.  We have made our own law to enslave us.  We look to our behavior and performance and conduct to see if we are ready for Christ to live in us even though we have professed him as Lord and Savior.

We need to change our thinking!  Our thinking is enslaving us even though the gift of God that we know in Christ Jesus liberated us.

Christ made us whole.  He redeemed us.  He made us right with God.  He justified us.  So why is it such a big leap to say, “Christ lives in me?”

Why?  It is because we have made our own law that says, “I’m still getting ready for him to live in me.  I’ve still got some work to do before he can move in.”

We need to change our self talk because the world has corrupted our thinking.  The world says, “You might be saved, but you sure aren’t good enough for Christ to live in you.”

Our thinking would have us believe that Christ isn’t quite living in us yet.  Oh, sure, we get moments every now and then, but he’s not a permanent resident.

Here is the theological term that addresses that sort of thinking:  Horsehockey—and that’s not an equine sport played by horses with no teeth.  Rubbish.  Here is one that you don’t have to explain to the kids:  Stinkin’ Thinkin’.

We need to defend the freedom that we know in the gospel.  We got that from the first chapter.  We also need to defend everything that we have been given in the gospel.

Christ does live in us!

It is not salvation plus get your life in order and then Christ will live in us.  Christ lives in us.

We have listened to the junk that the world has been offering us for too long. Christians have been repeating this junk for too long. We have died to the world and Christ lives in us. 

We need to resolve this cognitive dissonance in favor of the truth.  Christ lives in us.

Our self talk needs to sound like this:
I am crucified with Christ.  Christ lives in me.

We don’t contend with contingencies that are pressuring us to live by the 10 Commandments or specific sections of Leviticus or anything else that could roughly be categorized as the law. We contend with thinking that tells us we are not good enough for Christ to live in us and too often it is our own thinking  that gets in our way.

Christ lives in us not because of what we have done but because of what he has done.  Christ lives in us.

Christ lives in us!

Do people see any evidence of this?  Not if we believe that we are not good enough for him to take up residence in our lives.

We need to stop listening to the world.  We don’t owe the naysayers an audience so they can present their opinions of the truth.  We know the Truth.  His name is Jesus Christ and he lives in us.

If we want to see manifestations of his presence in us, we had better resolve any dissonance we have that he is there, belongs there, or anything else that the world is feeding us that happens to be a bunch of horsehockey.

I have been crucified with Christ.
Christ lives in me.

If we venture to John’s first letter we are reminded:  You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 

This makes no sense unless we believe that Christ lives in us.

Here is our charge for the week ahead.  Begin each day just saying:

I have been crucified with Christ.
Christ lives in me.