Tomorrow is the day when believers around the world will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, the day He proved once and for all time that death has lost its power over Him and over us as well. As much as we should celebrate it I can’t help but offer for your prayerful and heartfelt consideration another wonderful truth that can be celebrated each and every day.
Traditionally an author will “paint a portrait” and introduce colors (different shades of meaning) and with deliberate strokes of the pen or keyboard they’ll continue on until the canvas (or monitor) is filled with the picture which has been in their heart and on their mind.
Rather than pursue this time tested approach, one which I delight in myself, I’m going to get right to the heart of the matter. It is my hope and my prayer that these words will be His words to you and that you will see for yourself the ways that only God can “breath the breath of (His) life into man and he became a living being.” His use of CPR is so wonderfully different than ours.
A paramedic may administer CPR to an accident victim and actually succeed in reviving them; that is, the life that was in him (the paramedic) was given to the victim and he revived. The remarkable difference is that although a paramedic may have a genuine concern for the helpless and hurting person he is ministering to; at the end of his shift he’ll go home embrace those he loves and the victim will eventually become a memory.
Not so with our God. He administers CPR to us, actually breathing His life into us, but at the end of the day He doesn’t return home to the embrace of those He loves and we become a pleasant memory. Not at all, in fact, He comes to us, breathes into us and takes us home to the embrace of One who loves us every bit as much as He loves the Son. His Father has become ours.
It’s a magnificent truth and one that we rightly celebrate, but isn’t this absolutely true statement also one that can be thought of and pondered every day and should our “remembering Him till He comes” also cause joy to literally spring up in our hearts and not just on Easter Sunday?
Why then is it that we seem to so easily forget such a glorious resurrection? Not just the resurrection of Christ for us to see, but more importantly, it’s the resurrection of Christ not only “outwardly” and proclaimed around the world, but in our day to day life it is the resurrection of Christ “inwardly,” that is, His being raised up from within us.
Although we’ve had many teachers over the years who mean well and have never intended any harm, but actually seeking our good; I suggest we take another look at a traditional teaching that I am convinced is depriving too many of us of the joy which Jesus said is ours.
The saying goes that “We are called to live the life of Jesus.” It has its basis in scripture and we know this because Paul has said, by inspiration, that we are to be “imitators of God.” (Ephesians 5:1) and this seems to imply that we are actually able to “live the life of Christ.”
For years I tried with all my might to live the life of Christ. I’ve also watched my brothers and sisters struggle beneath the weight of this incredible burden of trying to be “like God” for the call to live the life of Christ can also be thought of as “living God’s life.”
I’ve seen more than one man, one woman walk away because of their inability to “walk as He walked” and sadly, I’ve also seen the god of this world tear them apart because they were not able to live the life of Jesus in this world.
If it’s such a tremendous burden and we as finite men who see through a glass dimly, that is, we don’t see the whole picture this side of heaven, how can we even hope to live His life? After all, wouldn’t living His life also mean that we have perfect vision and heaven isn’t a mystery to us any more?
Wouldn’t our living His life also mean that sin is no longer an issue? Living His life can only mean that we no longer sin, have no desire to sin and obedience is no longer a struggle.
In fact, if we are to live His life, shouldn’t more of us be visiting hospitals, making our way to the ICU and touching those who are literally standing on the threshold of eternity? Perhaps on the threshold of hell?
If, in fact, we are called to “live the life of Jesus” in our here and now, then we dare not limit our activity to mere character. Sadly, we stop short of living His life when it comes to the supernatural and continue to believe we are actually living His life now.
If you are living His life now, then take some time to go to the morgue and raise one from the dead. The hospital staff may offer some resistance, but if they don’t allow you to go in, then drive to the nearest cemetery and find a Lazarus. The groundskeeper at the burial place will only think you’ve come to grieve.
But, they who tell us we are called to live the life of Jesus in this life have never considered visiting the morgue or a cemetery. When was the last time any teacher who alleges we are to live His life took that life to its only possible and scripturally logical conclusion and went to a cemetery or morgue themselves and said nothing but “Come forth.”
Okay, the words have been spoken and I’ll be the last one to say that the bible never said “be imitators of God.” But, why have we been told to do the impossible? Why have so many turned back from following Him because of this command? Why are you now considering going back to the life you lived now that you’ve seen your total inability to keep this command?
Why have you shed rivers of tears now that you’ve discovered that living the life of Jesus is completely out of your reach? The guilt, the condemnation has been almost more than you can bear as you’ve tried with all that is within you to live His life and the god of this world has nearly succeeded in getting you to “raise the white flag” of surrender and he’s nearly convinced you that “you can’t live the life of Christ” and he’s plagued you with the idea that maybe this Christian life is nothing more than a fanciful dream that offers hope it can’t deliver and joy that clearly has evaded you?
Why then are we told to “be imitators of God” by God Himself? The answer is so simple it easily evades our prideful minds. He has told us to imitate Him because He knows we can’t!
He didn’t tell us to do this so we would succeed; He said it so we would come to Him when we fail. An elementary school teacher may delight in their “straight A” students, but once that child moves on to the next grade there is no relationship and there is no dependence upon that teacher for more insight, instruction and correction.
Our God is not that kind of a teacher. He tells us to do things we can’t do and He does it knowing that our trying will literally wear us out and create within us that dependence upon Him that He’s desired all along. Sin has made us wholly independent. The notion of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” encourages us to maintain our independence and we err when we bring this fallacious belief into our life as a believer.
Although this raises a multitude of questions in your mind and as much as I would like to ask some of them for you and help you to see the beauty of our salvation, time and space don’t allow me that privilege. (This may be the topic of a book, who knows? But time and finances don’t allow me that either)
Notice the “God breathed” words of Paul in his address to the believers at Philippi.
Philippians 3:10- “…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,”
Did you see it? Read it again and again until you hear Him say “let there be light.” Try as I may, I cannot grant revelation or illumination to any man, but what I can do is offer something for you to either consider for the first time or reconsider whether or not what you believe has been good, right and truth. (2 Chronicles 31:20) Just because something seems good, it may not be right and just because something seems to be right doesn’t mean it’s true.
Notice Paul’s words and tell me whose resurrection he is referring to? His own or the resurrection of Christ? Obviously he’s not speaking of his own resurrection. Not just that, but pay special attention to the way it’s been written; Paul is also asking for the power of His resurrection.
If Paul, who already knew that Jesus was alive, were only praying an Easter prayer, why then does he say he wanted to know “the power?” It’s because Paul knows that there is only One who can live His life in Paul and in you and me and that is Christ Himself. The only way we can conclude that we’ve been called to live the life of Christ is by saying something just the opposite of what the Spirit is clearly saying through no less than this apostle.
Remember the heartfelt declaration of this Apostle and tell me that if we are to “live the life of Jesus” then why did Paul also say that he “travails… till Christ be formed in you?” (Galatians 4:19) If I am, if we are to live the life of Christ then there is no need for Christ to be formed in us at all.
Consider this and remember that Resurrection Sunday can be more than His resurrection from the grave. It can also be His resurrection in you. We are made from the earth and just as Christ has been raised from the depths of the dark, cold earth and is alive forevermore, may you see that He alone can be raised up from within our dark, cold hearts and free to “show Himself to the world” around us.
Not only is this glorious; it does so much more than just that. It frees me to worship Him when I realize that all that He’s told me to do, He fully intends to do through me, for me and with me. Not just that, but when all is said and done, He alone gets the glory!
What’s amazing is that although He’s done it all, at the end of the day He has the grace to actually say “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
There is none like You! Indeed!
May this Resurrection Sunday be the day for you that you realize that you are not called to live His life, but that He desires to live His life in you, to you, through you and for you. This is the meaning of the fellowship our God delights in. Helpless children that are dependent on no one, especially themselves, but have come to depend on Him to do what they cannot do.
Grace is hard for us to accept because it requires that we admit to the very thing we hate the most; our own helplessness.
Tomorrow morning, may the Lord of Glory rise up within you and may you see that you no longer have to bear the unbearable burden of being like Jesus, but you are free to simply worship Him for all that He has done and all that He will do. Most of all, He’ll be the Christ and you’ll be the person He delights in; one who gives Him all the praise for being so gracious to wretches like us.
I have to say that I was excited to read your article to see what you had to say on the subject of resurrection but was sadly disappointed. You quoted this scripture but glossed over the big & necessary part of the fellowship in sufferings & conformity to His death. We cannot truly know or experience Christ except on the resurrection side of the cross. To even be ABLE to do so means that we have joined with Him in the sufferings of the loss of ALL things (as Paul mentioned in the previous verses) & are thereby also being conformed to His death. This is our absolutely necessary consecration unto God from everything of the old creation, including our old man, the old nature & the sinful flesh. This also includes everything of & in the world so that we might be unencumbered & unfettered in our souls making the soul a useful & proper organ. To fellowship means to experience. Without the literal experiences of suffering the loss of all things there is no real fellowship. You can reckon by faith all you want in the knowledge of His resurrection but without joining with Him in the true fellowship of suffering, there is simply no fellowship & no conformity to His death. This is what Jesus was referring to when He said to follow Me (he who wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross & follow Me). These two passages compliment each other, speaking of the same thing. The church today suffers greatly because of ignorance on things such as this. People want to focus so much on the positive that they ignore the negative aspects of the cross to their own demise. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth & dies it abides by itself alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit.” Jesus was speaking of Himself but also of His brothers who are to FOLLOW Him ! Dieing is the negative but necessary pre-requisite to bearing fruit through the power of resurrection! People can give the appearance of bearing fruit just as the tares but it is not real fruit unless it is derived directly from the tree of Life ! If you have not died , your fruit is your own, but if in fact you have died then the fruit can be of God. Peace. Be blessed !