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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Christ Is Risen!


Because Christ Is Risen! Colossians 2.6-15

At the beginning of this month, many churches around the U.S., and the world, were saying something significant – something we should be saying all year long: Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! But wait! What if Jesus was only “raised” in the hearts of his followers; if only the memory of Jesus was resuscitated and infused into the life-stories of his disciples; if the resurrection of Jesus is just a spring time myth (a rehashing of the Horace/Isis myth); What If all that remains of Jesus is the “spirit” of Jesus; if by “resurrection” we mean only that the timeless-teachings of Jesus still go on; what if the rising of Jesus is only about some fertile freshness blossoming in our hearts? What if!!!

Because Jesus is risen from the dead:
We Live Different (6-10): Look at all the “walk in him”, “in him” “Rooted…in him” “filled in him” “alive together with him” etc. Because Christ did rise from the dead – body, blood, bones, toenails and hair – and is no longer under the blight of mortality, then something new and restorative and transformative has erupted into time and space and history (see esp. 2.10, “filled [peplaromenoi –crammed full] in him”). We can cast off the determinisms, the fatalisms, the preprogrammed defeatist scripts of victimizations; of our temperaments, prejudices, obsessions, economics, ethnicity, destructive habits. We can live new in our marriages and in our singleness, in our relationships and in solitariness. We can function differently in our business endeavors and in our social activities. We can tackle the depressions, physical debilities, the calamitous and the catastrophic with optimism in God “who raises the dead” (2 Cor. 1.9)!
Christ IS risen! He is risen indeed!

See Ourselves Different (11-15): Because he has risen, we can face ourselves honestly and squarely as rapscallions we are in need of rescue; scallywags in need of saving; scoundrels in need of scouring. And thank God we are no longer justly condemned but graciously liberated (13-14). We now have a new identity-12 (see Baptism….ancient practice of baptism on Easter….renewal of Baptism. Look at Romans 6.8-11!!!!). We are not predestined by mechanistic destinies, genetic proclivities, social predispositions, or imposed identities – Alcoholism, indolence, victimhood or victimizers, violated or violators, anorexia, etc. You have been clothed with the resurrected Christ (Galatians 3.26-27) and so what Jesus is by nature he has made you by grace, therefore the Father says of you what he said of Jesus, “This is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased!”
Christ IS risen! He is risen indeed!

But if it’s not true that Christ is risen, then none of this is valid; there is nothing new, no way to really break free of the old patterns and old ways. No way to flourish in fresh lives. We’re only left with v.8, the vacuous philosophies and empty deceits of mythical “Positive Mental Attitudes” and self-absorbed human traditions with all of their multi-generational abuse cycles, and biologically mechanical determinisms: the “elemental spirits of the world” (v.8). Then all that is left to us is the empty and barren wasteland of our personal addictions, peccadilloes, and barbaric bullying - and then we die. There is no way to honestly face ourselves, or to confront our deadly destinies. If Jesus has not risen from death, then you and I are shackled to the savage, dead-end existence of dog-eat-doggishness (“dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh,” v.13). You and I are trapped in the snare of our creatureliness to crawl and scratch out your ruthless, red-in-fang-and-talon, might-makes-right barbarism, and then you die!
Christ IS risen! He is risen indeed!

Therefore, I am encouraging you to boldly embrace the fact that Christ died for your trespasses and was raised (not metaphorically, not figuratively, not conceptually, but really raised) for your justification. And so to live and relate and talk in that hope (Romans 6.11 and 23). To see yourself for what you were (and sometimes still struggle with) and what you are becoming because of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection on the 3rd day. // If you embrace Christ resurrected (- and so, crammed full in him!), then you can confess your sins to those whom you have wronged, you can repair those relationships you have mutilated, you can face the dead-ends of life with the sure and certain confidence that death and dead-ended-ness are not the final word. You can lift up your head and look beyond the pain, brokenness, catastrophes, and calamities of your bodies and your world to an unparalleled joy of unending life with God. And in this way, you can clear your head and you can bravely confront the tumultuous chaos and turbulent pandemonium raging sometimes in you and sometimes around you.
Christ IS risen! He is risen indeed!

“…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Romans 10.9-10).

Christ IS risen! He is risen indeed!

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