Friday, March 29, 2013

From Death to Life (2 Corinthians 5:16-19)

I find great comfort in the characters who appear during the course of the Resurrection narrative.

The Bible does not surround Jesus with superheroes.  His followers included people who were once possessed by demons and employed by the world's oldest profession; Jesus' friends and family wept in despair when he was crucified; the disciples hid in fear after his death (and Peter completely disowned him during Jesus' arrest). So why does this list of failures bring me comfort?

Because they are us. 

Jesus died and rose to save people who really needed saving. That's great news in itself, but the even better news is that this offer of salvation wasn't limited to just those folks.  I recognize myself in the story. I, too, am in need of a Savior who can take all my messy sinfulness and make something better and new.  I'm thinking of something like this:
"In Christ [we] become new people altogether—the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new. God has restored our relationship with Him through Christ—not counting our sins against us —and has given us this message of reconciliation. We are now Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were appealing direct through us…’” (2 Corinthians 5:16-19) 
Paul is writing this. Paul, cold-blooded killer. Paul, who fit very comfortably in the company of the sinful and broken. But this man who once killed the followers of the Risen Christ becomes the voice of the Resurrected, the face of the Restored through whom God wants to spread the Good News of New Life to the entire World. 

Jesus was dead; now He is alive. And if the physically dead can truly live again through the power of God, certainly those who are dead in other ways can find hope. Tragedy can kill our spirit; betrayal can destroy our trust; sin can deaden our soul.  But because of Jesus, we can find all kinds of new life through Christ.
  • The cowardly can become bold. 
  • The used can become worthy. 
  • The broken can be mended. 
  • The grieving can find comfort. 
  • The despairing can find hope. 
  • The sinful can be restored.
This is the power of the Resurrection.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Unveiled Glory (2 Corinthians 3:7-18)

Paul makes a remarkable claim in 2 Corinthians 3:18. He writes that we are able to see and reflect the glory of God in such as way that we can increasingly display His splendor throughout our life.

Considering what I know about myself - and what I've seen in others - that seems like a very counterintuitive observation.  But if Paul is correct, there is a principle here that can take us from merely what we are to what we can be.