By Tim Bloedow [www.christiangovernment.ca] March 21, 2008
Happy Good Friday! I mean, Happy Easter! Why do Christians wish each other Happy Easter, and not Happy Good Friday? Because we know that Jesus is no longer on the cross. He defeated sin, death and hell. He overcame… He conquered.
The question today is, Do we really believe this? Do we really believe that Jesus conquered? Do we really believe that Christ is King? Do we really believe that we live today as vice-regents in this world under King Jesus? Or do we live our lives as though we were sitting at the foot of the cross, looking up at Christ, wondering when He’s going to get off the cross? Maybe we’ve been sitting there so long, we’re now wondering IF He’s going to get off the cross!?
I suspect that most Christians in today’s backslidden Western, North American church are living at the foot of the cross.
It’s time to MOVE ON.
Christ doesn’t even want us to simply sit around basking in the glow of glory. In the Transfiguration incidence when three of His 12 closest disciples saw Jesus transfigured (Matthew 17:1-11), Peter wanted to stay there. He suggested the building of three tabernacles so that they could remain there and continue worshipping God and enjoying the glory. But that wasn’t God’s plan. At that stage, Christ still had to do His great work for the salvation of His people. But today, He’s engaged in an active “mopping up” process in history following His great victory over His enemies in His death and resurrection … and He mops up through His people. We are His agents in this world – His vice-regents.
So many Christians are so introspective over their sin that they can never move on to live in intentional Biblical victory in their daily lives. They are living in the realm of justification instead of sanctification because they have no real assurance of forgiveness and salvation. That is a big reason why there is so little difference between many Christians and many non-Christians… because Christians don’t study Scripture enough to know what Christian living looks like when it comes to their family life, their economic decisions, their social priorities, the way they use their money, etc.
In many branches of the church, this is the first generation of believers in decades that has even thought that the Bible could and should govern the way they raise their children and the decisions about how to educate them. How many older Christians turned to Dr. Spock instead of the Bible to learn how to raise their children?
The lack of interest by Christians in pursuing culturally influential vocations – business owners, politicians, educators, pastors, lawyers, etc. – is indicative of today’s non-comprehensive approach to life by so many Christians. Christians don’t seem to be any more interested in positions of influence in our society than the non-Christians around us.
This is all evidence of how little today’s Christians understand about their position as vice-regents under God in this world. This is all evidence of how little we understand about what it means to ACT AS vice-regents of God in this world. Because of this, we are effectively living at the foot of the cross instead of living as post-Resurrection Christians.
Let me ask you another practical question: Do you live your life as though it is one problem after another with some good times acting as filler between each problem? Many people pray like that. Or do you live your life as though you are living from victory to victory with some problems to deal with in the midst of this victorious living? The latter posture is the one that reflects post-Resurrection thinking.
One passage of Scripture that is so hard for many Christians to process emotionally – at least today, which may be more reflective of today’s kind of Christianity – is that passage (2 Samuel 12:15-23) which talks about David’s passionate and desperate appeals of God to save the life of his sick son – but when his son dies, the Bible says that David got up, washed his face and went about his daily life. It’s so easy for today’s Christians to rationalize David’s behaviour rather than following his example – in any number of areas of our lives.
Here’s a very different incident, but one which, in another way, also demonstrates the call to live productively and victoriously before the face of God; the call to celebrate life rather than to live in death. And this is another example from the Old Testament, from history prior to the Great Work of Christ. It’s found in Nehemiah, Chapter 8. The Israelites had discovered the Book of the Law and Nehemiah brought a team of Jews up to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of the city. During this time, the people were brought together to listen to the reading of the Book of the Law of God. As they listened, God brought great conviction of sin over all the people and they were mourning and grieving and weeping and repenting of their sin.
So what did Ezra and Nehemiah tell the people to do? Wallow in the misery that they were rightfully feeling? Keep repenting until they ran out of tears? Keep asking for forgiveness until they could no longer think of anything they needed forgiveness for?
No! Look at verse 10. It shocked me when I read it. “Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your stength.’ The Levites calmed all the people, saying, ‘Be still, for this is a sacred day. Do not grieve.’ Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.”
That is an amazing account. Today, so many Christians seem to associate sacredness with solemnity. Here, the repentant people were told to recognize the sacredness of the day by rejoicing and celebrating. To be sure, for real joy, there must first be repentance. In fact, maybe the lack of joy and celebration in many Christian circles today is due to a lack of real repentance. Generally speaking, North American Christians today seem to live very average, mediocre, ordinary lives. There’s not much passion, certainly not about our faith and about living in general. We get our passion from the same escapist activities that everyone else gets excited about – professional sports and video games.
But Christians should be passionate about life. We should be enthusiastic about living. We should be aware of what it means to live in the victory of a ruling King. We should know what it means to rule with Him in this world.
Many Christians today treat the Church as though it is only a Therapy Centre, a place to go to get healed and stroked. It is that, but it is also a living, dynamic, industrious Body. It is also a Palace in which dwell kings and queens. And it is Military HQ. The one-dimensional, girlie-man therapeutic notion of Church today is maybe a big reason why it holds so little attraction for men in today’s Western society. I laughed when I read another passage in Nehemiah. He was confronting the idolatry and wickedness of the people – right after they had repented of sin and promised to live righteous lives going forward. Some of us who advocate the value of harshness in its place in Christian expression have our favourite proof-texts from Scripture. Well, I’ve never heard anyone use this one. Nehemiah, Chapter 13, Verse 25: Nehemiah writes: “I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair.” Fifty percent of Christians today who were subject to that kind of treatment would probably file assault charges against their fellow believer!
Notably, Nehemiah wasn’t a prophet, so the typical dismissal of harsh behaviour as peculiar to the office of a prophet doesn’t work in this case. Nehemiah was a governor, an administrator and a general contractor, among other things. But he had zeal for God. How many of us have that kind of zeal for God? How many of us are that confident that God reigns – and vindicates His people?
I listened to a very dynamic message many years ago called “Friday’s Here… But Sunday’s coming.” The speaker was talking about the discouragement and trials people face, and the fact that we should persevere through them, because God’s light is at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.
But this sermon title was wrong. Sunday’s not coming. Sunday’s already here. We are living on the other side of Christ’s victorious Resurrection. We worship not just a lamb, but the Lion of Judah. We serve a king – the King of Kings. And we must remember that the Scriptural call to live in this world as servants is made in the context of also declaring us to be kings. We are servant-kings. What does that mean in the way you live your life from this day forward?
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