Archive for July, 2012

July 31, 2012

The Love of God in the Warning

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Mark 13:5-6, 23
Full Text: Jeremiah 27; Mark 13

Liberal | Ross Douthat (NYT) recently wrote,  “[The Episcopal Church] is flexible to the point of indifference on dogma, friendly to sexual liberation in almost every form, willing to blend Christianity with other faiths, and eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular causes. Yet instead of attracting a younger, more open-minded demographic with these changes, the Episcopal Church’s dying has proceeded apace … In the last decade, average Sunday attendance dropped 23 percent, and not a single Episcopal diocese in the country saw churchgoing increase” [1]. This is not, however, merely an Episcopal problem: “Practically every denomination – Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian – that has tried to adapt itself to contemporary liberal values has seen an Episcopal-style plunge.”

Warning | Adaption to contemporary liberal values, however, is not always detrimental. At the Jerusalem Council, for example, Paul and Peter were the “liberal” theologians, arguing against the circumcision of new Gentile converts [2]. Yet as the church contextualizes the gospel in changing cultures, Christ lovingly warns us in advance that things may be misleading: “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray’ … But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand” [3].

Steadfast | How are we to handle these times? N.T. Wright writes, “We are the people called neither to take up arms and force the kingdom upon an unwilling world nor to run away into a private spirituality … We are the people called … into prayer and fasting, into betrayal and suffering, into the ambiguous and agonizing position of wrestling with the purposes of God, into knowing that we might have got it wrong, into wondering in anguish if maybe there’s a different way after all, into being misunderstood by friends and family, into fightings without and fears within … [We are called] to be alert, to see what the issues are and what stand must be taken, to do business with the one Jesus called Abba, Father, even if voices all around us, and even within us, tell us we might be getting it horribly wrong” [4].

Prayer | Lord, We long to be a church that welcomes all people into your presence, even as we stay committed to the truth of the gospel in our changing times. Teach us how to do this and guard us against teachings that may lead us astray. For the sake of your name. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Ross Douthat. “Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?” The New York Times. 14 July 2012.  |  [2] See Acts 15:1-35 (Paul and Peter argued against circumcision of the new Gentile converts in order to maintain the centrality of the gospel, i.e., salvation by faith alone). Also not that even Douthat acknowledges that liberals should be credited for teaching “that faith should spur social reform as well as personal conversion.”  |  [3] Mark 13:5-6, 23 ESV  |  [4] Mr. N.T. Wright. The Way of the Lord: Christian Pilgrimage Today (p. 87). Kindle Edition.

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July 30, 2012

The Love of God in the Offering

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Mark 12:6-8
Full Text: Jeremiah 26; Mark 12

Obstacle | Tiffany & Co. has partnered with four artists to interpret “the meaning of true love” in a Soho street art installation. Each artist will display his or her design for two weeks at 97 Greene Street.  The first artist created a lamppost scene that had quotes about her love for the streets of Soho. On Friday, the second artist decorated the space with raindrop characters based on the ancient Greek definition of love. The last artists will wrap up the installation by September [1]. The most accurate meaning of true love, however, will not be included in the installation.

Tenants | We see true love in the parable of the tenants. A man leased his vineyard to tenants and then went abroad. When the harvest arrived, he sent servants one-by-one to collect fruit from the tenants, but they did not welcome the servants. Some they beat and some they killed. Jesus concluded, “He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ And they took him and killed him” [2].

Sacrifice | This is the meaning of true love – that God bore with great patience the rejection of His people, sending prophet after prophet until finally He sent His Son. John Piper said, “This love of God for his one and only Son was … an obstacle almost insurmountable. Could God, would God, overcome his cherishing, admiring, treasuring, white-hot, affectionate bond with his Son and deliver him over to be lied about and betrayed and abandoned and mocked and flogged and beaten and spit on and nailed to a cross and pierced with a sword like an animal being butchered. Would he really do that? Would he hand over the Son of his love? If he would, then whatever goal he is pursuing could never be stopped” [3].

Prayer | Lord, This is true love – that you will not withhold from us any good thing because you did not spare your own Son but gave him up for us all [4]. Yet that image is grotesque and offensive – a body beaten, bloody, cursed and dead. On that cross, however, we see how much you would do for us to remove our sin and, thereby, fellowship with us. This is the meaning of true love. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Charlotte Cowles. “Tiffany & Co. Won’t Settle for Just Any Old Scaffolding.” New York Magazine. 19 July 2012 (includes an image of the first installation). See also Seija Rankin. “We’ve Got The First Look at Tiffany’s Brand-New Street Art (!) Installation.” Refinery29. 26 July 2012 (for an image of the second installation).  |  [2] Mark 12:6-8  |  [3] John Piper. “God Did Not Spare His Own Son.” Desiring God. 18 August 2002.  |  [4] See Romans 8:32.

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July 27, 2012

On the Life of the Mind: Greatness

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Mark 9:35-36
Full Text: Jeremiah 23; Mark 9

Olympics | There resides in all of us a desire for greatness. For athletes, that desire will be showcased for the next 16 days at the Olympics, where more than 10,000 participants from 204 countries will compete in 26 different sports for 2,100 medals [1]. This is the world’s foremost sports competition and everyone will celebrate those who compete [2]. As Jesse Owens once said, “For a time, at least, I was the most famous person in the entire world” [3].

Distortion | Jesus never criticized anyone’s quest for greatness. In fact, God made us in His image and He wants our lives to be meaningful and significant – whether we are runners, bankers or pastors [4]. Yet something happened that distorted our pursuit of greatness. John Piper says that it has been corrupted into a longing not merely to be great, but “to be known as great” and “to be greater than someone else” [5].

Children | On the way to Capernaum, the disciples were arguing with one another about who was the greatest. Jesus “said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’ And he took a child and put him in the midst of them” [6]. Jesus wanted them to see that “the measure of true greatness is to what degree the impulse of self-exaltation has been crucified” [7]. This is why he brought a child among them: “[Children] pretty much take for granted that you will take care of them. They don’t make a big deal out of the fact that you pour your life out for them. And so, children prove, more clearly than any other kind of people, whether you are truly great or not – whether you live to serve or live to be praised” [8].

Prayer | Lord, Thank you for giving us a desire for true greatness. We confess, however, that we do not pursue it by being the last of all and the servant of all. Instead, we long to be known as great and greater than others. Forgive us and, by your Spirit, crucify our impulse of self-exaltation. For we know that the rewards of earthly greatness are fleeting. Even Owens, who returned as a gold-decorated athlete, ended up filing for bankruptcy and being prosecuted for tax evasion [9]. In Christ, however, our pursuit of humility and service that seeks your praise alone has rewards that will last forever. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] See Wikipedia:2012 Summer Olympics; ESPN: “London to feature largest medals.” 27 July 2011.  |  [2] As Mary Lou Retton, winner of the all-around in gymnastics at the 1984 games, once said, “For athletes, the Olympics are the ultimate test of their worth.”  |  [3] Owens won four gold medals in track and field at the 1936 games.  |  [4] I am not attempting to say that pursuing greatness in athletics by excellency in sport and pursuing greatness in the kingdom of heaven by service to others are mutually exclusive. We can do both; we can glorify God and serve others in our pursuit of excellency in sport (or any other type of work). For more on this topic, see The Center for Faith and Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. And, of course, who can forget Eric Liddell’s famous quote in Chariots of Fire: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”  |  [5] John Piper. “Receiving Children in Jesus’ Name.” 23 February 1992. (emphasis mine)  |  [6] Mark 9:35-36 ESV  |  [7] Id. at 5.  |  [8] Id. See also Luke 14:13-14 for how the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind also prove this.  |  [9] Wikipedia: Jesse Owens: Post Olympics.

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July 26, 2012

On the Life of the Mind: Desire

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Mark 8:34-36
Full Text: Jeremiah 22; Mark 8

Desires | As our consciences guide us [1], our desires often come into conflict. We may want to eat chocolate cake, but we also want to lose weight. We may want to sleep late and relax at home, but we also want a paycheck. How do we reconcile these competing desires? Jonathan Edwards wrote, “Free moral agents always act according to the strongest inclination they have at the moment of choice” [2]. In other words, we always do what we most want to do.

Gethsemane | As we saw a few weeks ago, Jesus had competing desires in the garden [3]. Although he wanted the cup to pass, he wanted to partake in the Father’s will even more. Therefore, he chose the latter and let himself be killed in order to accomplish the salvation of his people. In response, what does he call us to do? Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” [4].

Truth | In our daily decisions, we are confronted with the question: What do you want more – the whole world or your soul? When we thoughtlessly choose fleeting pastimes over daily prayer, what are we saying about what we really want? When we effortlessly spend money on our own creature comforts and reluctantly give to widows and orphans, what do our actions reveal about the kingdom for which we really long? Jesus is saying, in effect, “Desire my kingdom to come ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ more than you desire the fleeting pastimes and creature comforts of this world. For those things will soon pass away and become worthless. But my kingdom will last forever.”

Prayer | Lord, We agree with Jim Elliot, who said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Yet we confess that we have been foolish. When confronted with competing desires, our choices often reveal that our hearts prefer earthly treasures more than heavenly ones. Therefore, sanctify us by your Spirit by giving us new hearts and new desires. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] See 843 Acres. “On the Life of the Mind: Conscience.” 24 July 2012.  |  [2] Jonathan Edwards. The Freedom of the Will.  |  [3] See 843 Acres. “Praying in Gethsemane.” 16 July 2012.  |  [4] Mark 8:34-36 ESV

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July 25, 2012

On the Life of the Mind: Guilt

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Mark 7:15, 20-22
Full Text: Jeremiah 21; Mark 7

Guilt | As we saw yesterday, our consciences remind us what is true and encourage us to choose it [1]. No matter how much we follow our consciences, however, all of us have a nagging sense of guilt. Even Sir Kingsley Amis, who once replied, “It’s more that I hate Him,” when he was asked whether he was an atheist, acknowledged his own sense of guilt: “One of the great benefits of organized religion is that you can be forgiven your sins, which must be a wonderful thing. I mean, I carry my sins around with me; there’s nobody there to forgive them” [2].

Heart | The Pharisees tried washing away their guilty consciences by strictly observing the clean laws. In their obsession with obedience, however, they had forgotten the purpose of the laws – namely, to show that sin does the same thing to the soul that dirt does to the body. Jesus explained that their problem was much deeper than they thought: “There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him … From within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness” [3]. Yet how could they wash their hearts?

Forgiveness | The blood of Christ cleans the hearts of sinners. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he told them that they were guilty of the sins that Jesus said defiled a person, e.g., immorality, theft, murder. Yet he said, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” [4]. How does this good news shape our daily lives? We pursue obedience and, when we inevitably falter, we confess our sins in the name of Jesus our Advocate. Then we praise God that He has given us a sense of godly regret that awakens our heart to recognize His amazing mercy.

Prayer | Lord, We draw near to you through Christ, “in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from evil consciences” [5]. Yet we confess that, although we are forgiven, we still sin. Yet we praise you that, in Christ, you are forgiving. Therefore, we listen to our consciences and, instead of hiding in shame, we run to your grace and give you glory. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] 843 Acres. “On the Life of the Mind: Conscience.” 24 July 2012.  |  [2] Kingsley Amis. Memoirs.  |  [3] Mark 7:15, 20-22 ESV  |  [4] 1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV  |  [5] See Hebrews 10:22 ESV.

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July 24, 2012

On the Life of the Mind: Conscience

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Mark 6:26
Full Text: Jeremiah 20; Mark 6

Consciences | As we saw yesterday, denial keeps us from acknowledging truth [1]. Our consciences, however, remind us what is true and encourage us to choose it. Yet we must feed our consciences by the Spirit and the Word if we want to overcome our old nature. George Bernard Shaw said, “A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: ‘Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time.’ When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, ‘The one I feed the most’” [2].

Parties | Herod Antipas had a conscience. When he was married to another woman, he conspired with his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias, to divorce their spouses and marry each other. Everything was fine until John the Baptist condemned their marriage. Herodias wanted John dead, but Herod – “knowing that [John] was a righteous and holy man” – feared and protected him [3]. Then Herod hosted a dinner party and Herodias’ daughter danced for his drunken guests. Herod was pleased and vowed to give her anything. Herodias answered him: “The head of John the Baptist.” Herod immediately sobered up: “The king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her” [4]. This was his moment. Which dog would he feed – the one that wanted to admit the folly of his oath or the one that wanted to please his drunken guests? He chose the latter and demanded John’s head on a platter.

Peers | Herod knew that John was special. He was prepared to listen to him, but he wasn’t prepared to repent. Repenting would have been too hard – What would he do about Philip? Herodias? His oath? He knew John was right, but he didn’t know what to do about it. Instead of working it out, however, he yielded to peer pressure. And don’t think for a moment that his guests respected his decision. After all, everyone knew John was righteous.

Prayer | Lord, We admit that we are blind and ignore our consciences. The more we willfully disobey, the more we feed the “bad dog” inside us. Yet we confess that we long to meditate on your promises so that, even when obedience seems difficult and complicated, we will choose to follow you. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] 843 Acres. “On the Life of the Mind: Denial.” 23 July 2012.  |  [2] See also Romans 7:7-25.  |  [3] Mark 6:19-20 ESV  |  [4] Mark 6:26 ESV

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July 23, 2012

On the Life of the Mind: Denial

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Mark 5:15, 17
Full Text: Jeremiah 19; Mark 5

Denial | “Whatever … the postmortems reveal about the [current economic] crisis, one culprit is abundantly clear: denial,” writes HBS Professor Richard Tedlow in his book, Denial: Why Business Leaders Fail to Look Facts in the Face. He says that denial is, “the unconscious calculus that if an unpleasant reality were true, it would be too terrible, so therefore it cannot be true” [1]. What does it look like? Winston Churchill said, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”

Response | The authority of Jesus is an inconvenient truth for some people. When Jesus went to Gerasenes, a madman came running at him from the mountains. The man was bloodstained and scarred. He had demonic strength; even chains and shackles could not bind him. Yet he called out to Jesus, who drove out the man’s demons and sent them into two thousand pigs that, in turn, rushed down to the sea and drowned. Immediately, the man was calm and in his right mind. Yet no one praised Jesus. In one of the saddest moments of the gospels, the people asked him to leave. Mark wrote, “They were afraid … and they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region” [2].

Willful | Jesus was too powerful and, even worse, too costly. After all, he sent their income (the pigs) into the sea. Yes, they stumbled over the spectacular truth that this man Jesus had authority even over the demons. Since it was also an inconvenient truth, however, they picked themselves up and hurried off as if nothing happened. They ignored (or denied) the greater reality that Jesus wielded his extraordinary authority to show compassion on the sick. Instead of seeing his authority as a refuge, they saw it as a threat. They should have run to Jesus, proclaiming, “What shall we say to these things we have seen? If God is for us, who can be against us?” [3]

Prayer | Lord, We praise you because, in Christ, your authority is not a threat, but a refuge. Yet we confess that your authority sometimes seems like an inconvenient truth. When obedience seems too costly, we often choose to live according to our own authority. Forgive us and, by your Spirit, open our eyes and melt our hearts so that denial has no place in our lives. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Richard Tedlow. Denial: Why Business Leaders Fail to Look Facts in the Face and What to Do About It.  |  [2] Mark 5:15, 17 ESV  |  [3] Romans 8:31

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July 20, 2012

The Scandal of the Weak

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Mark 2:17
Full Text: Jeremiah 16; Mark 2

Military | Earlier this year, in Foreign Policy, Vladimir Putin argued that Russia needed to rebuild its military in light of the “new regional and local wars [that are] breaking out.” He wrote that 23 trillion rubles – that is, $709 billion USD – would be allocated over the next decade for military-development programs. Why this strategy? He explained, “We should not tempt anyone by allowing ourselves to be weak … Falling behind means becoming vulnerable” [1].

Vulnerable | As we’ve seen this week, however, Jesus tempted everyone – the lawyers, the high priest, the governor, the soldiers, a thief [2] – by allowing himself to be weak. Then he let himself be slaughtered. His strategy for victory was fundamentally opposed to our modern way of thinking; he voluntarily became weak in order to bring the strength of his salvation to the world.

Scandal | This was his message from the beginning. Early in his ministry, when his disciples questioned why he was eating with “tax collectors and sinners,” Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” [3]. This was a scandal to their expectations. They thought the Messiah would come to judge the godless and preach the kingdom to the faithful, powerful, influential and connected. Yet, as Abraham Cho taught at Redeemer on Sunday, “This is the scandal of the kingdom of heaven: that the kingdom of heaven is filled only with the weak … Jesus said, ‘It’s the strong, the self-sufficient, the self-reliant, the self-satisfied that are out; it’s the weak, the needy, the utterly reliant that are in’” [4].

Self | Therefore, Cho suggested, “We have to ask ourselves this: do you see yourself as ‘the weak’? When you think about who you are, do the words weak, broken, flawed, needy, blind, helpless and poor come to your mind? … Does that offend you? It probably should. It offends almost every one of our cultural sensibilities as New Yorkers. Yet Jesus says that the kingdom moves forward only among the weak.”

Prayer | Lord, We admit that we oftentimes think as our culture does – that salvation comes by strength and might, not by weakness and vulnerability. Yet the scandal of your love is that you came to save sinners. By your Spirit, make us humble people, who readily confess our weakness, blindness, brokenness and neediness. For we long to enjoy the kingdom of heaven [5]. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Vladimir Putin. “Being Strong: Why Russia needs to rebuild its military.” Foreign Policy. 21 February 2012.  |  [2] See Matthew 26:47 – 27:44.  |  [3] Mark 2:17 ESV  |  [4] Abraham Cho (Assistant Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church). “Are You the One?” 15 July 2012.  |  [5] See also The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-11), about which Cho said, “Remember the Sermon on the Mount? Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are meek, those who hunger and thirst. It’s not blessed are the wealthy or the comfortable or the strong or the satisfied.”

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July 19, 2012

When the Honeymoon Ends

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Jeremiah 15:16
Full Text: Jeremiah 15; Mark 1

Hamlet | Shakespeare’s Hamlet has an existential moment. He questions whether it would be better to deal with life’s troubles or end them for good: “To be, or not to be – that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them” [1].

Jeremiah | Similarly, Jeremiah lamented, “Woe is me, my mother, that you bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land!” [2] Often called “The Weeping Prophet”, Jeremiah wasn’t a popular guy. After all, he had the unfortunate job of revealing the sins of the people and telling them why they were going to be destroyed and deported. As God commissioned him, “When your people say, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all these things to us?’ you shall say to them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve foreigners in a land that is not yours’” [3].

Reality | Whether we get disappointed with life’s troubles like Hamlet or discouraged by God’s call like Jeremiah, all of us have existential moments when the honeymoon ends. Yet don’t despair. As D. Martin Lloyd-Jones wrote, “Nothing is so false … as to give the impression that the moment you believe and are converted, all your troubles are at an end … That is not true, and it is not true because we have an enemy, the Adversary of our souls. But not only do we have to contend with the enemy, there is still the old nature within, and these two together make it certain that we shall have troubles and difficulties” [4].

Fight | How do we fight the enemy and our old nature? Jeremiah did what Jesus did in the wilderness when he was tempted [5]; he treasured God’s promises: “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts” [6].

Prayer | Lord, We are called by the name of Jesus. In him, we live and have our being. Yet we know that this world has troubles from within and without. Give us hearts that delight in your promises and minds that soak them up, as we agree with Paul, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” [7]. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] William Shakespeare. Hamlet. Act 3, Scene I.  |  [2] Jeremiah 16:10 ESV  |  [3] Jeremiah 5:19 ESV  |  [4] D. Martin Lloyd-Jones. Spiritual Depression (p. 121).  |  [5] See Matthew 4:1-11.  |  [6] Jeremiah 15:16 ESV  |  [7] See Philippians 1:21.

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July 18, 2012

His Resurrection Gives Meaning to Our Work

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Matthew 28:18-20
Full Text: Jeremiah 14; Matthew 28

Commissioned | Jesus walked the Via Dolorosa alone and then died on the cross alone. After he was crucified, his body was prepared for burial [pic] and then laid in a tomb [pic]. Three days later, when the Jews were celebrating the Feast of First Fruits, Jesus was raised as the first fruits of our resurrection [1]. He appeared to his disciples, saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” [2].

Meaningful | We are not merely forgiven in Christ; we are also commissioned in him: “We are the ones through whom the unique victory of Calvary is to be put into practice in all the world” [3]. When Paul wrote of Jesus’ resurrection, he didn’t say, “Christ is raised. Therefore, be assured that there’s life after death.” Instead, he said, “Christ is raised. Therefore, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” [4].

Work | How does his resurrection connect with our work not being in vain? N.T. Wright explains, “What was begun at the resurrection of Jesus will be continued until it is thoroughly finished … In the Lord, your labor is not in vain. When God’s new world is finally revealed, what you have done to bring healing and hope, beauty and joy to your bit of the world will shine out as a glorious part of the rich tapestry of the new creation. And the wounds and scars which result from announcing Jesus’ lordship in a world where other lords guard their territory with tanks, bombs and laws will be the sign that we have fought Jesus’ battles with Jesus’ weapons” [5].

Prayer | Lord, You call us to make disciples of the nations, living out the gospel in our lives. In Christ’s resurrection, we know that our present work is not in vain. Therefore, we work as your hands and feet to bring the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven, knowing that you are making our work into a beautiful tapestry that will be unfurled at the end of this age. Give us a vision of that tapestry so that we might endure in pursuing the great commission. Amen. [6]

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Footnotes

[1] See 1 Corinthians 15:20 (where Paul calls Jesus’ resurrection the first fruits of our resurrection, directly calling into mind the Jewish high holiday of the First Fruits, see First Fruits, Wiki).  |  [2] Matthew 28:18-20 ESV  |  [3] Mr. N.T. Wright. The Way of the Lord: Christian Pilgrimage Today (p. 105). Kindle Edition.  |  [4] 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV  |  [5] Mr. N.T. Wright. The Way of the Lord: Christian Pilgrimage Today (p. 110, 117-118). Kindle Edition. For additional reading on how our work today will be seen in the age to come, see Richard Mouw. When the Kings Come Marching In.  |  [6] For a wonderful worship hymn in response to this reflection, see O Holy City, Seen of John.

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