We who are many form one body.

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4Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. Romans 12:4-5

The New Testament writers used many images to help followers of Jesus get the church. One of those images is the “Body of Christ.” Today we are the living representation of Jesus in and to the world. And you are a part of it. Paul writes here that you have a special function in the body of Jesus. You are a part of the body.

Here’s a challenging feature to our hyper-individualization as it comes to our idea of private spirituality and the church: we all belong together in Christ. Jesus has actually called us into relationship with each other. The cool feature is that as you grow and relate within the Body of Christ you will discover the special ways He has gifted you for the mission and ministry of the Church.  I’m glad to be in this family, His Body, and adventure of faith with you.

Never Separated!

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38And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

Belonging to Jesus means nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God. In Christ you are firmly in the grip of His love. And that is a reality yours by grace to never be changed by death, authorities, powers, fears for today or worries about the future. You are loved!

No Condemnation

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1So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.  Romans 8:1-2
I love these verses. So encouraging. Can you imagine being sentenced to death? Death because of independence from God, brokenness and willful rebellion against God. But now in Christ. You are not condemned. You are freed from both the sentence or eternal consequence AND the power of sin over you! If you are in Christ, there is no condemnation from God.

Are you correction adverse?

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People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray. Proverbs 10:17

When a close friend or even someone outside of your circle of comfort identifies an attitude, action, or belief that is wrong what do you do? How do you respond?

Are you reactive? Or, are you responsive?

A reactive person is correction adverse. Immediately feels judged and condemned, even disrespected. A reactive person will lash out at the one who has offered a corrective criticism. The reactive person feel diminished as a person if their attitudes, actions, or beliefs are called into question or if they are called to give an account. There is a kind of foolishness shaping the reactive person and it will lead them astray.

The responsive person is celebrated as a wise one. The responsive person pauses and considers whether there is anything true in the criticism and corrective word. The responsive person is willing to change his or her mind. The responsive person has found their identity not “in being right” but in truly being righteous. The responsive person is not diminished by correction but embraces the opportunity to apply discipline to their life and thereby enter the pathway of life.

So you, are you correction adverse? Or are you responsive to correction?
It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance, and therefore to Jesus and His pathway of life! There is no discipleship without responsiveness to correction.

We don’t like to think about this.

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5This is what the Lord says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord.

6They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land.  Jeremiah 17:5-6

I appreciate the “people are awesome” line. People are awesome. It is incredible what people can do. I like the stories of hard, smart, persevering  work. However, the Scripture shows us we are always in danger of turning the blessings of strength into our own personal Babel. And that is grievous!

When Jeremiah expresses God’s view of the human situation we must remember, God is grieved by our situation. God is so grieved that He uses the word “cursed” or “under a curse” to describe the situation of living without Him. He uses the most dramatic images to capture the deathly impact of the evil seduction that limits our faith to just humanity and  that turns hearts away from the Lord.

People apart from a relationship with God are like stunted shrubs in the desert. God is grieved for these people who had such potential in Him for now they are living barren, lonely, hopeless lives. Ah you may say, “I know many people who seem to be doing well without God.” Jeremiah goes on to say that we do not yet see the whole story:

11Like a partridge that hatches eggs she has not laid, so are those who get their wealth by unjust means. At midlife they will lose their riches; in the end, they will become poor old fools.

12But we worship at your throne— eternal, high, and glorious!

13O  Lord, the hope of Israel, all who turn away from you will be disgraced. They will be buried in the dust of the earth, for they have abandoned the Lord, the fountain of living water.  Jeremiah 17:11-13

The heralds of a DYI-life seduce people with stories of stuff, praise, and power. But life without the one true God — well we don’t like to think about like this — is empty. Only He is the “fountain of living water,” the hope of Israel and the blessing for all the nations.

So it is in the Gospel of Jesus that we enter into the restoration work of the  creation and the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Israel. Jesus says, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” 39(When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)  John 7:37-39

There is hope for those who are living under the curse! Though we all have a deceitful heart that turns from God, Jesus can transform the heart. Even Jeremiah knew God’s power to change the heart, so he prayed in response to this word from God, “O  Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone!” Jeremiah 17:14

Let’s come to Jesus Christ the Lord, who entered the wasteland of death, bore our curse, and defeated sin. Let’s trust Him for life. Let’s ask Him to heal our hearts. May He quench your thirst!