Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The good life, the better life, the best life

I am a human being, naturally depraved, and if you are reading this, so are you. This is alright. It is natural. Being a bad person is the original state of being every single baby is born into. By all rights, we have no reason to do good. But there is this chance for redemption which is presented to all of us as a choice. It is to accept the supernatural death and rebirth of self into a new person, no longer bad. Through Christ we can become more than natural. Paul clarifies this with a statement, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come." The object is to go from a natural state to a supernatural state.

This concept is simple, but at the same time confusing to some people. Jesus spoke once to an educated man, a ruling council member in Jewish society, a Pharisee named Nicodemus. This man recognized that God was with Jesus, but Jesus told him in order to see the Kingdom of God, a man must be born again. Nicodemus did not understand at first. He thought Jesus meant be born from their mother again but Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." We are all born and we all die, but we choose when to die and when to truly live. All are faced with the choice, the blood of Jesus is enough to cover everybody who was ever alive and ever will be. Not everybody accepts. So many reject God's offer of salvation. We all choose our second death; we can die to our flesh and live in spirit eternally, or we can live in our flesh and die spiritually for eternity.

This is not a happy topic. It is sad and hard to understand, but Heaven and Hell are very real. And so is God. We who are saved, who have died to self, who daily carry their cross, who were crucified with Christ, are called to a higher purpose, to higher standards. No longer can we live as though we were members of the world. We are to be above reproach, to live with love and faith and goodness. To seek holy, righteous purity of flesh and spirit. In our DNA is flesh, sin, and ultimately death, but we receive a new, spiritual DNA when we receive our new life. The DNA of truth, love, and ultimately life.

In Ezekiel, God gives the prophet this vision:
The calling of the watchmen.
If you see danger and do not call out in warning and a man dies, his blood is on your hands.
If you see danger and do call out in warning and a man dies, his blood is not on your hands because you sounded warning.
This is true still, but under the new covenant with Christ we will not be condemned to Hell for not warning our friends, family, neighbors, and even enemies of the eternal danger, but it is our greatest calling. We are to speak the Truth and proclaim the Good News. We are to offer Life to those who are dead. When I say dead there, not the death of their flesh, because then it would be too late, but spiritually many are dead as they live in this world. They do not know the Truth, but they are accountable to be judged nonetheless. For Christians, the judgement is not of our sins, which God chooses not to see because of the lens of Jesus' blood, but of our fruit. He cares about what we do with the resources and gifts we are given.

In the Christian life, there are levels of commitment we can work toward. ( I am trying to be cautious here, I am not saying that we can be saved by anything but faith, but our faith is made alive through our deeds and when we bare Christian fruit.) The first level is good. When we are good, it is just the simple transition from darkness to light. It is becoming a follower; simply accepting the offer. That is good.

The second level is betterBetter is where a Christian starts to explore the Word, to pray, to live a loving life, to fellowship, but mostly there is not a full maturity. It is a stage of development in which the relationship between a human and God grows, but the person does not fully understand God's will and purpose in their life. This could include being discipled, attending church regularly and other similar things. They are on the right track, but there is work to be done. That is better than good.

Finally we come to best. The best are not easily angered; do not hold grudges or keep score, do not delight in evil; always rejoice in truth, always protect, always trust, always hope, and aways persevere.

What I just described as best, it is impossible, but it is the goal. To make ourselves more like Jesus everyday. As Christians, we have to recognize our failures in order to grow. The Devil has no footholds if we do not try to hide in darkness. In the light, Satan has no power. Daily, we need to remember that God did not create us to work alone. As individuals we fail, as a community, in fellowship with one another and God, we can do all things. (Not that God cannot use a person alone, but more often he works through a group.) The truth of the matter, if we are striving to be like Christ, to better ourselves, to help each other, to do good always, and to live lives of Christian love, we will be the best Christians we can be. I am a human being, supernaturally redeemed, and if you are reading this, you could be too.

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