This Blog-space is dedicated to the musings of a gospel preacher celebrating 43 wonderful years of church related ministry in Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, and Texas, and missionary related travel to Australia, India, Kenya, Russia, and Mexico.
Romans chapters 5-8 are rich in meaning for the born-again follower of Christ. In this section of text we uncover the meaning behind being new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). We remember Paul's words concerning baptism in Romans 6 reminding us that as many as have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into his death. In fact, we participate in Christ's death in such a way that just as Christ resurrected from the dead, we also enter into a new life connected to Christ. So, in what ways are we new and different than we were before our connection to Christ? Here is a brief list of spiritual realignments that take place, and cause us to be different creatures than we were before our spiritual rebirth:
born into a new family: Romans 5 compares Adam with Christ letting us know that the sin of one man brought judgment and condemnation on all men, but the obedience of the one man (the second Adam) brought grace and righteousness to all men. The point is that all humanity shares Adam as its progenitor. "Son's of Adam" is the default position of every human born on this planet. Praise God, those who choose to die to that sad condition and are regenerated into Christ, become sons of God, and members of His heavenly family. Our baptism is a declaration of that realignment where we shed Adam's race through death and are born into God's family by being raised into a newness of life.
born into a new servant-hood: Romans 6 declares another realignment involving a death and resurrection. Once again, by nature, we were all slaves to sin. It is natural for a son of Adam to also be enslaved to sin. This was part of the consequence of the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil brought experiential knowledge of disobedience, leading to a universal slavery of everyone born on the planet. Sadly, we are all in the same sinking boat, but gladly, we can choose to die with Christ to our sin condition and be reborn as servants (slaves) to Christ. Romans 6:16 reminds us that who ever we offer ourselves to obey will become our master, and we will be his slave. Whether it be to sin with the result of death, or to obedience which results in righteousness. It is a major realignment to leave sin behind and to become Christ's servant.
born into a new wedlock: Romans 7 paints a picture of the law being like an unsatisfied and legalistic marriage partner who cannot die, and who is impossible to please. All who are born into Adam's race are likewise married to the law which can only condemn but cannot justify anyone. Though the law cannot die, we can die to the law and be resurrected with the ability to choose a new marriage partner. We are then free to join ourselves along with everyone else born of God into the bride of Christ which is the church. This major realignment not only frees us from the bondage of the law, but binds us together with other Christians as we await the arrival of our heavenly bride groom to rule on earth. He is within us now in the form of the Holy Spirit, but we will be with him when he returns to rule and reign.
born with a new mind: Romans 8 paints the fourth picture of spiritual realignment by letting us know that the mind on the flesh means certain death (the default for all born of Adam's race), but the mind on Christ means life and peace (Romans 8:5-8). When we were slaves to sin (our former condition) our minds continually dwelt on the things of the flesh, but when we came to know Christ we were set free from that kind of bondage when God enlivened our spirits and connected them to His Holy Spirit. Though we may occasionally drift back into fleshly thinking, we are no longer bound in slavery to that kind of thinking. Christ has set us free from all bondage and given us the ability to abide in Him and to set our minds on Him.
Notice, here, the defaults and the realignments that come with our spiritual birthing: The defaults include: Adam's race, slavery to sin, marriage to the law, and fleshly thinking. This is a hopeless and depressing condition for all who are spiritually dead and separated from God. But notice the realignments which take place when we die to self in order to be resurrected into the new creation which brings new life, grace, and peace (with God, others, and self). The realignment is a chosen change coming from your faith in God's ability, and it is all of God's doing. He takes our pitiful state, puts it to death, and resurrects us as His children, His servants, His bride, and with His mind. No Christian simply becomes an adherent to a different religion. He becomes a completely new and different person in every way. Talk about a paradigm shift! Nothing is the same as it was when were simply another offspring of Adam's race. Now we are a completely new and different creature with a new heritage and a different destiny. Praise God for our complete spiritual realignment.
I have a new video on Youtube. It is a video of me singing My Grandfather's Clock while sitting next to my newest acquisition. which is a Barwick Grandfather's clock given to us by good friends who are getting ready to sell their house. They said it wasn't working, but evidently it must have been healed by the ride home to our place, because when we brought it inside it was ticking, and when we set it it has been keeping time ever since. The Youtube link is as follows http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCrakJUPwO8
Our church just finished a four week series on friendship evangelism entitled "Just walk across the room" from a book by the same title written by Bill Hybels. Not only did we preach four sermons on various aspects of this topic, but many of our Pueblos (home Bible study groups) viewed related dvd's and discussed questions in the accompanying work-books. We've been through many series before, but I believe that this one seemed to strike a chord with many of our people. I know it was meaningful to me.
The encouragement was for us to get out of our own circle of comfort and to venture forth into the zone of the unknown while relying on nudges from the Holy Spirit to direct our steps into adventures God might set up for us. We were also spurred on to develop friendships with people who are not currently close to God, and to take the trouble to listen to their stories rather than just unloading our verbiage on them. Once again, we were admonished to determine what the Holy Spirit might want us to do next rather than just shooting gospel bullets from our hips. We learned how not to tell our own story in a way that might scare people off, but how to briefly share how we have been changed by our connection to Christ. We were also urged to develop friendships for the long haul rather than just looking for conversion scalps for our belts.
What I took away from all this was the fact that Jesus was often called a "friend of sinners" (Matt. 11:19, Luke 7:34-36) which was a derogatory slam coming from the religious leaders of his day, but I believe that was a title he gladly bore. He was a tremendous example of radical inclusiveness and the impact it can have on others. I believe that his example should inspire Christ followers to walk out of their cloistered circles of safety and comfort, and into an adventuresome world of sinners and seekers where we can finally flesh out Christ's call to be salt and light. Perhaps the best insult that could be leveled against us would be for some to call us "friends of sinners" as well. Now, that would be an abuse I would gladly endure for Christ any time! Just a thought!