Saturday, December 15, 2012

Work, Christ, Horrors, and the Life to Come.

As if Christ Himself lives in You. Because He does.
There is so much to do here on earth, but so much that we really cannot do.  A day's worth of living in this world is like a day's worth of watching a series of train wrecks from behind a plexiglass wall.  And then there is the struggle to wake up to the same wrecks every day, without becoming hardened.  In Psychology they call this hardening to a stimulus "habituation". We become habituated to all this, to the point that we can drink our tea or coffee and debate over which chair is more comfortable on our side of the plexiglass, all the while ignoring the series of daily crashes until the inevitable crash that will one day come through our pane of separation and crush the whole set, ourselves included.
But how can we NOT become habituated? Even in action we are so very powerless. We would quickly lose hope if our efforts were contingent upon immediate success.  After a little pounding on the glass, or for the very athletic, climbing over the pane to wave at the conductor in warning - only to have him wave back in greeting (or worse, try to wave you out of the way); almost all would retreat wearily after a few such attempts and make the best of what life they had on their side of the glass.

Where does Jesus Christ come into all this?  We talk a lot in our chairs over tea about His power, His defeat of evil, His cross.  But can we take Him with us? When we're screaming at the conductor or sifting through the wreckage, evil seems to be anything but defeated, and power seems anything but on the side of right; that is, on the side of Christ.

What do we mean when we say that Jesus has defeated evil then?  Does it mean that the train crashes are just an illusion? Is it license to sit back in our chairs and watch, perhaps shed a tear, and then say with a little bit of theatre in our voices "ahhh, yes, there is tragedy, but evil has been defeated!" and keep up this bit of amateur stagework until we ourselves get caught in the massive wheels?
What does scripture mean when it says He has defeated evil by His cross? In general it has to do with the defeat of sin, through forgiveness on the one hand, and through the injection of Christ-life on the other.  This forgiveness places us in a position to expect a future transfer to a better world in which the trains do not crash and all goes as ordered.  If this were all the Spirit of God in the apostles meant then we could really sit back in our chairs and repeat our lines with a little more conviction as we waited for that one train which would eventually plummet through the glass to take us to the better place.  But there is the injection.

And this injection is nothing other than the life of Christ Himself.  The Lord Messiah who never habituated to this earth, who was a man of grief and acquainted with sorrow.  He didn't merely shake his fist at the train crashes, but stretched out his hands to heal.  He spoke loudly against improper relating to God, and also spoke out against those who devoured widow's houses. He informed us that Love of neighbor is the echo of the Love of God.  And then He walked the road of obedience all the way to the cross - and then out the other side.  In this He showed us that the road of obedience is really a road to the cross, a "bidding to come and die".  But in the resurrection the Father shows us that the cross is not a dead end, but a doorway Jesus' "narrow door" into LIFE.  We don't get to the door or through it but by obedience born of true belief-His own life inside of us.

And with Him inside of us, it can truly be said "As is He, so are we in this world"  Will we speak? Will we act? And if we do, will we do it limply, looking around for Him to come to our aid?  He is inside of us.  We are His hands.  We need only know and believe  His word that we are in the Father as we "do His commands"- and move out.  If we are struck by oncoming trains, so be it. That will be our door. We have met His fate in death, and will meet it also in resurrection.  If His power is in us, can we not stretch out our hands in His name and watch Him heal? It would seem so, and sometimes is the case; God knows that I don't know why this so often fails. I believe we must and ought to cry out for a change in this area, which can be nothing but a deficit in His Church.  But if after our asking it does not please Him to stretch out His hand through us to heal, we cannot let that stop us from living out the life of Christ in every path of obedience which remains open. We must reach the door of the cross and go through.

Christ has conquered, through putting away of sin and its guilt, and cutting off its mastery over us.  To the degree this is not so, Christ's conquering has not yet reached where it must.

We have this power inside of us, a light to the world, and His teaching, which is its seed.  We have also another vision and promise, the promise of that world to come.  This promise that lives inside of us as Christ its Lord lives inside of us, allows us to be habituated to that perfect world, and jarred anew by this broken one with every new day, but stirred up again with the knowledge of what is (His creation, His presence in us), and what will be (that world to come).  Jarred, but not just to tears, rather to obedience.  Never forgetting that one of His commands is that we Believe in Him, believe His word, remembering also that what in the heart we call faith, in the will we call obedience.

Christ's victory is going to come with power as He comes on the clouds with all the Holy Angels in blazing fire. Yet until that day, that great Sabbath (and in anticipation of it-for us who have entered into the sabbath rest of Christ) Christ's victory over sin, Cross and Resurrection, looks like you and I stepping out into the world to do our Father's will, Loving Him with all the heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving neighbor as ourself.  And it is lawful on the sabbath to do good, not evil, to save life, not to destroy it.  To let our good works (yes, they will be work, and work requires effort) so shine before men that they will glorify the God-in-Christ who works in us, and perhaps welcome Him into their own being before He comes in Judgement and Restoration.