Archives For Death

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Samuel Hamilton in East of Eden once wrote, “Two stories have haunted us and followed us from our beginning. . . . We carry them along with us like invisible tails—the story of original sin and the story of Cain and Abel. And I don’t understand either of them. I don’t understand them at all, but I feel them.

Original sin is the story of the fall of humanity. Adam and Eve disobey God and death had a birthday. The story of Cain and Abel is the story of violence finding its first platform of death and destruction.

Brian Zanhd in his book, Beauty Will Save The World, teaches that the picture of individuals going wrong is seen in the story of Adam and Eve and the picture of civilization going wrong is seen in the story of Cain and Abel.

Separation from God and violence was never God’s plan for us as individuals or for civilization. We were created to reflect the image of God. We were designed to take care of each other. Violence is not the way of the kingdom of God.

God’s rule and reign in the here and now is not through violence and power. His rule and His reign are through the work of the Holy Spirit working not only in us, but through us toward others by the power of love.

Love is the greatest power ever known to man. Love was perfectly demonstrated on the cross. When violence taunted Jesus to fight back, He fought back with love and not violence. He took all the sins of the world and its violence upon himself and said, “It is finished!” He defeated it with love. So must we!

We can only love like God when we move toward God in submission. We must not be violent to get our way. The Gospel was never gifted to us to force upon the sinner. It was gifted to us to love the sinner to the foot of the cross. Violence will always and only be seen as corrupt in God’s sight. (See Genesis 6:11-13)

The Church is called to be God’s new humanity in the world. We are not called to call down fire like James and John wanted to do when Jesus was rejected. They asked to call fire down, and Jesus warned them that they knew not what spirit they were being lead by.

When we live God’s peace to the world, we show forth His lordship. The world system cannot bring peace. Only God can do that, and He did it by the cross. When we follow the politics of forgiveness and redemption, we find that we are following Jesus.

When you and I answer the call to deny self and take up the cross and follow Christ, we are baptized to the imperative call to love our enemies. Christ sending His sheep out among wolves is about love and never about retaliation. I’ve heard it said many ways and it is true…the beauty of love and kindness is most strikingly seen in the darkest of places.

We are called to be light. We are called to walk in His love. Both are done in the darkness, and both cast darkness out. Now walk bold today my friend. Walk in love. You will find you are walking in the footsteps of Christ Himself.

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Isaiah 55:1 (ESV) “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

In Isaiah 54, God has offered forgiveness and now in chapter 55 the call to walk in forgiveness is given. It is not enough to be free; we must live free. We don’t have to order our lives around the axis of a world system that begs for us to dance as its puppets. We don’t have to order our lives around a fragmented social system that includes only those with more power.

In God’s order, everyone is included. We have a Christ centered alternative to be fully human and live fully human in Him and His redeemed order of justice. We have been given the choice of the one that choose us. In Christ, we are the tribe of Revelation 7:9-10

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (NKJV)

We are His redeemed community living a life of radical love in a sea of hatefulness. We render not evil for evil, but we love our way through this age until the age to come overtakes us, and death is swallowed up forever.

We need not use violence to fight for our rights, but instead as one writer has so eloquently put it, “Our violent ways find an end in the wounds of Christ, and in his forgiveness we are offered healing from our self-inflicted pain.”

For now, death remains but soon death will be swallowed up forever.

Isaiah 25:6-9 (ESV) 6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. 9 It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

 

 

nofaithDo you need faith for God to break into your life and do the unexpected? If you read all of Luke chapter 7, you will find the answer. Luke Chapter 7 is a beautiful portion of scripture of both faith in the heart of humanity and the absence of faith. God works in both situations.

In Luke 7:1-9 Jesus heals a Centurion’s servant. I post about it here. A short review revels that Jesus is sent for in order to heal the slave of a Centurion. As Jesus is on the way to perform the healing, the Centurion sends another word for Jesus not to even come, but to speak the words of healing only, and it will be done.

The Centurion confesses that he is not even worthy for Jesus to come under his roof. Along about verse 9 the Bible says that Jesus was blown away at that kind of faith. In other words, Jesus was astonished! That is something powerful to think about in and of itself.

However, the very next miracle begs the question, where is the faith? In the healing of the Centurion’s servant we see the faith, but here Jesus moves and does the greatest of miracles without the faith of anyone. Jesus is not tied to the faith of man. He never has been tied to the faith of man, and he never will be tied to the faith of man. It’s a beautiful paradox because on one hand without faith it is impossible to please God, and yet on the other hand he moves without any faith exercised by anyone in the crowd that day. That is simply breathtaking and beautiful to me.

The whole miracle is even more beautiful when you realize that Luke would have us to hear the future echo of the death and resurrection of Christ in the present story. Here in Luke 7:11-17 the widow and her dead son are being carried outside the gate to the burial ground to rest in death. Think ahead with me to the Jerusalem. Jesus is followed by a crowd also, and his mother, as he is on his way to death and a grave. The only difference is unlike the boy who he raised from the dead and had to die again physically, Jesus will rise to never die again. He is alive forevermore.

Put yourself in the crowd the day Jesus raised the young man from death. Professional mourners and wailers were making noise as they did in the 1st century. The mother could cry without embarrassment with those around her doing the same. The family would have been carrying spices for the body, and they would have been heading for the family cave where they would place the young man’s body.

Suddenly in the middle of all of this, a stranger and his disciple appear along side of them. Jesus walks up to the crying mother and whisper in her ear, “Do not weep.” Then he turns and touches the coffin and speaks, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”

Everyone is shocked! A miracle requiring no faith on their part has been done. They glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.” They would have been thinking of Elijah and Elisha. They found themselves standing along side God between the echoes of Eden and the cross and resurrection to come. God was with them. The resurrection and the life was standing right in the middle of death.

Now, what are you worried about today? What life problem has you worried that your faith is not strong enough to make it? Yes, faith is important. Yes, faith is a gift. Yes, faith at times can even astonish God himself. However, what about when you have no faith? Can God still move in your life? YES! Just ask the young man raised from the dead.

Let God whisper in your ear today, “Do not weep.”