‘If we have never lived we will be terrified of death.’ To be alive in this life; to be full alive and not half alive or seventy-five percent dead is a daily possibility for all who live in Christ’s gospel of the Kingdom. But not necessarily for those who live in ‘other gospels’ are half gospels.
All my life I have had a passion for life. As a child, I was impatient at dullness defined as life. As a youth, I held the dead motions of religion in contempt. There were, I noticed, not a few who celebrated dullness and sanctified it as godliness. There were ministerial students I knew, who were already half dead before they attempted to minister ‘life’ to others. There was a lecturer so steeped the morbidity and bitterness of the law that his soul was shrivelled and he shrivelled others with the ant-life spirit of those he touched. God, these embers of religion assumed, was as dull and inhibited as they were. Yet all around was life, colour and zest. Wasn’t God supposed to be the Creator of all this extravagant life? Or was all this variety and vigour an un-pious excess?
Sure, there was a Jesus, hidden somewhere in this sectarian briar bush. But Religion constructed Him in its own image – which is why we need the Christ of God and not our own false christs to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.
It’s not difficult to promote a wretched view of life when we have embraced a wretched form of religion sourced in the wretched law of sin and death. The preponderance of false christs masquerading as the son of God is itself A SIGN. A sign that we need Jesus to reveal Himself personally to us so that we will know Him as life, as light, as He is and stop reconstructing Him in the image of our morbid selves. We don’t have to embrace a body of death as though it is life to the full.
‘Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?’ Rom 7.24,25 ESV.
NONSENSE TAUGHT AS LIGHT
Many years ago, a fellow youth at my church, urged that we live today as though today was the last day of our life. Thus every day we could scare ourselves into BEING READY for the second coming so as to make a decent job of the motley presentation of our less than ready selves.
Little did we know that in Christ we were always ready; that we were deeply loved and celebrated in the halls of heaven as sons of God! I didn’t accept such negativism then and I don’t know. I live each day as though each day is the best day of my life – because it is. This is our life in God. It is what it means to proceed from glory to glory in Jesus.
‘To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’ Col 1.27 NIV.
Years later, I was able to encourage my students in Bible class to celebrate their lives in God each day – instead of turning to God only when it seemed much loved aunt Maud was on her death-bed or when we needed a travelling mercy to drive from Melbourne to Sydney.
Jesus, the One who is life, is your companion every day of your life. You are never alone. He is with you and in you as are our Father and Holy Spirit. When we sensitise ourselves to this presence we open ourselves to life.
Today I wrote in my journal that death cannot intimidate me with the thought that I have not yet lived. I have had my fill of life. I have loved and been truly loved. I have the joy of my wife and daughter. Like my daughter, I say that ‘I enjoy being myself.’ I know that God is alive in me and that I am alive because His spirit is in me. Each day is an adventure – an adventure with others and in doing what I was born to do. I live because He lives in me and I live in the certainty that I will continue into eternity knowing God, satisfied in being myself and celebrating the expression of God in others.
THE MANGLED HOPE
Mrs Frobisher is 93. She lives in a nursing home. Not far from death she takes no joy in the fact that her course will soon be run. She wonders instead if she has been ‘good enough.’ Others like her hope they have ‘done enough.’ Some have a morbid view of life because there is no life and no genuine hope in their religion – only uncertainty and a fearful expectation of judgment. Living from the law saps the life out of life today and robs us of anticipating the future with boldness and daring. Pessimism as spirituality is a contradiction and a lie.
Pessimism is the lot of the non-believer and not meant to be the Believers outlook. Yet some have made religion out of uncertainty because their religion is not about life. It’s about NOT DOING SIN. Much of their existence consists of cajoling themselves into shaping up and being worthy of God and earning a place in His Eternal Life. But you already have it. Your inheritance and present reality is union with God. This is why it pays to have the religion of Jesus and not some other gospel hatched up under the influence of deceiving spirits.
‘I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist’ 2 John 1.7 NIV. Christ is in you. You are in Christ and Christ is in God. You are in life and marinated in the spirit of life. Christ is your message of life.
‘I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life’ John 5.24 NLT. Are you listening to Christ’s message or another one?
Paul spoke of Christ our life. By living in life, we enjoy life now and are confident and certain of having even more of life when we see Jesus face to face. One can never really live or be truly alive living from the law and performance. Jesus is life Himself. In Him you are alive because you are connected to the living hub of the universe – the trinity that is God. You are transfused with spirit and life. Robert Rohr writes, ‘If we have never lived, we will be terrified of death. We will have no assurance that this is not the end. Jesus said, “I am life." He came to promise us that this mystery called life and love is eternal, and that we enter into it now. It’s heaven all the way to heaven.’