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Monday, March 09, 2015

The Reality of New Life in Christ

  For Lent this year I am led to share with you news about the new life we have here and now, in and through our Risen Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus stated that he came that we who come to him will have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). Our experiences in this world, however, often seem so far from that reality of abundant living. What will help us to awaken to the greater reality of victorious and abundant living in Christ? I believe that the answer is that Jesus wants us to have a Christian perspective and live into the faith realities in his presence as our Risen Lord, here on earth.
  In praying about having new life in Christ, I find the story of Lazarus most helpful. Have you ever thought about what perspective Lazarus gained in his faith after he was raised from the dead and brought out of the tomb by Jesus? How did this life-transforming event affect his life and faith as he lived "beyond the grave" in new life? He would have come to know through personal experience that Jesus was truly the Resurrection and the Life. He must also have gained an eternal perspective and must have encouraged many others to believe in the reality of new life in Christ, even while still living on this earth (see John 12:9, 12, 17). How may we have the same faith and how may we live in this new life here on earth?
  To understand what we must do, it will be helpful to review the story of Lazarus so that it is fresh in our minds (see John, Chapter 11). Both of Lazarus’ sisters exclaimed to Jesus: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Does believing in Jesus mean that we won’t experience physical death? Of course not. Yet, true faith in Jesus will mean that we will live in new life beyond the grave. As Jesus says: “He who believes in me will live even if he dies.” This was the essential lesson we learn from Jesus' conversation with Martha, Lazarus' sister. Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that you are the Christ, the Son of God, even he who comes into the world”(John 11:23-27).
  Once Jesus, himself, was raised from the dead and had revealed himself as the Risen Lord, all of life changed. Believing in the Risen Lord means that we are invited to live in the Kingdom of God now—here on earth—and forever. Living into the new life in Christ means that we are meant to be currently living into the reality of life beyond death. We are to be living in our earthly lives more and more with the faith perspective of God’s will being done and his kingdom coming forth on earth as it is in heaven. Yes, as we consider what we are praying in the Lord’s Prayer we gain new life perspective in faith: "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven," NOW! That is a prayer that is meant to be answered here and now on earth—not just a prayer for the future! Let us learn to live the new life here and now! Let us live with whole-hearted faith in our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, NOW, not just with hopeful thoughts focused on the future.
  The story of Lazarus brings forth an important faith lesson: death is not the end for the believer. Jesus has the final word in the believer's life. He is the Resurrection and the Life. Though we die (and we experience death in so many ways while living in this world)
yet shall we continue living eternally, with heavenly perspective now here on earth. We are meant to live abundantly through realizing the presence and life-giving power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Our Lord Jesus Christ is life himself, and through living faith he is living and working in us. We are more than conquerors through him (Rom.8:37).
  Today let us consider what new life was like for Lazarus once he was raised from the dead and brought from the burial tomb. At that point he was already living the new life reality in Jesus. He lived the rest of his earthly life in the new life after death through Jesus. May we live into this same reality. May we know that we have, now, real new life in our Risen Lord by trusting Jesus: that he is risen, that he is the Resurrection and the Life, and that he calls us from death into new life, eternal life, abundant life! (see Romans 6:1-13 & 2 Corinthians 4:7-11).
  May we have the faith that allows us to truly trust Jesus: he is with us, he is alive in the new life beyond death, and he calls us into the same reality now—even before our own
physical deaths.
  In his holy love, David+

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