When we talk about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have to ask, “What was resurrected?” We’ve been on this journey for a few weeks now as we prepare for Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. Paul goes to great lengths in 1 Cor 15 to advocate for the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the hope we have! When we think about the afterlife, we often think about our bodies staying in the ground and our souls drifting off to an other-worldly, disembodied existence. Most of these thoughts come from Plato’s teaching and read into the bible rather than being pulled from the bible. In preparation for this week’s sermon, I want to just provide some passages for you to reflect on without me providing much commentary. God created the world, called it good, and made his dwelling among us.
When Paul talks about the Resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, he solicits imagery that brings the overarching story of the Bible together (1 Cor. 15:20-28). He compares Christ to Adam. Death came through Adam and life comes through Christ. Death came through a man and therefore life must come through a man. Paul isn’t just giving us details as to what happened in the world with two separate events. He is painting a picture of what God intended to do, is doing, and will do in the end. To better understand what God is doing in the Resurrection, we first have to understand what God intended with Adam and Eve. This then sheds light on what our purpose is in Christ.
The Teacher in Ecclesiastes pontificates on the absurdity of life, the meaninglessness of it all. Read Ecc. 1:1-11. The Teacher sets the stage for his sobering book by writing a short poem on how the mountains, rivers, and seas all continue on without us. Ultimately, we all die and that is that. He paints a bleak picture of life, comparing it to a vapor. You can see it, but it is short lives and disappears in a flash. Is life even worth living if everything you accumulate in this life is left waste?
With Ash Wednesday falling on Valentine’s Day and Easter on April Fool’s day, I was joking with one of my Catholic friends what this is an awkward season for them. I’ve always had a deep appreciation for a lot of the Catholic practices and traditions. You’ll find differences in how people explain these practices based on what they understand from their upbringing or what their particular branch of Catholicism practices. With this week being the start of the season of Lent, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts from my understanding of Lent to help you get more out of these practices.
When Jesus was asked what the greatest command was, he quoted Deuteronomy 6:5,
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind” (Matt 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). Jesus is quoting from the prayer called the Shema. They pray this prayer every morning and evening, when they leave the house, get home, walking down the road, and some even literally bind it on their foreheads and wrap it around their arms. What does it mean to love God with everything that you are in every capacity?
I was standing outside the other evening when my neighbors got home. They have four children right now. Their two daughters are biological, and their two boys are their boys who have been with them since August through a foster care program. The younger of their two boys came up and gave me a big hug. I helped Devan, my neighbor, take his four kids around trick-or-treating at Halloween while Erin hung out with Allison, handing out candy to kids coming by. Devan and Allison are good people and it warms my heart seeing them interact with their boys. No matter what happens in their lives, Devan and Allison have gifted them with a picture of what family looks and feels like. Their daughters, who treat them like brothers, know a deeper level of love because they have witnessed their parents love others as their own. As I continually witness this beautiful existence from across the yard, I realize the essence of what James is saying in James 1:27.
This Sunday, we will look at what the qualities are of being an Elder in the church. We are all called to live as ambassadors of Christ in this world. A leader in the church is someone who embodies what that looks like. My prayer for this Sunday is that we are all open to hearing the call to be transformed into the image of Christ as we examine what a Shepherding Leader is supposed to look like.
We are part of a Family where we both receive from one another as well as give. No one is above receiving and no one is below giving. All of us have gifts worth giving as we strengthen the body of Christ. We focused this last week on Romans 12 and I want to come back to “Love in Action” (12:9-21) this coming Sunday.