Friday, January 27, 2012

To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain

I realize I have been harping on the same subject now for a number of days but it is an important subject. It is so important that when we start living its reality much of our perspective is changed. Eternity is real and we will be part of it. The resurrection is real, Jesus defeated death and the resurrection of those asleep in Christ is set. We will not be going into his glory as we are, we have to be changed. When we realize that what we are heading for, the things of this world start to become pretty dull and boring; our problems begin to look pretty small.. As we gain an eternal perspective our priorities in this place begin to change and they must because they are really messed up right now.

Let's start with the fact that what we are right now cannot inherit eternity. First our hearts must be completely reborn. We are not talking about a renovation job, I mean a complete refit. The old is cast aside and the new is installed. Jesus referred to it as a second birth. Then our minds must also be renewed. This can only happen with a new heart. So everything is being redeemed, brought into alignment with God. The slavery to sin is broken as our sin nature is overcome by the power and forgiveness of God. It is still around but it does not have the control over us as it once did. It no longer dictates to us. However, there is still a major stumbling block.

Our heart and mind are made new but they are still housed in this weak flesh that we have. It is why Jesus said that our spirit is willing but our flesh is weak. It is why apostle Paul spoke of disciplining the body, keeping it in check, making it answerable to our spirit. The Scriptures teach that in submission to the spirit our bodies can be used to glorify Jesus Christ. Paul describes them as jars of clay:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Clay jars were cheap and disposable. When you look at how fragile our life is, how easily it is ended and how these bodies are discarded, and the fact we are made from the dust of the earth, clay jars is a fitting term. But they will not be coming with us into eternity. They serve a purpose now but just as our hearts and minds have been transformed so will be our bodies. They have to be:

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:53-54)

When Jesus was resurrected he appeared in his resurrected state to well over five hundred people. He entered locked rooms, ate with people, walked with them, spoke with them, they touched him yet he appeared different to them. Mary did not recognize him until he spoke her name. The two disciples on their way to Emmaus did not recognize him until he did something they were very familiar with. These clay jars of ours will be replaced by the imperishable and immortal.

Always keep in mind that Jesus came not only as the sacrifice for our sin but as the seed to what we will be. He showed us how to live a life in this body under the power of the Holy Spirit. What he did we can do too and what he was we are by the Holy Spirit. He was also the fore runner, the first born, the one who blazed the trail for us. He went ahead of us and destroyed the power of death. The cross meant forgiveness in this place but the empty grave means eternity with God. Jesus made it all possible. Although we serve here with all that we are, our focus, our longing needs to be eternity. If that is where our focus is we will do everything in this place that we can to bring God glory. Heaven is where we are to store our treasure and that is what makes life here tolerable. In all that you face and do today remember that Jesus has given us greater victory than we can presently grasp and also remember this scripture to keep it all in perspective:

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

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