Tastes of reality in a world seeking to undo reality

December 7 2014 209

13You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

16So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. 17For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.  Colossians 2:13-17

Jesus is the reality that is to come. But He is also present for you now. When we come to Jesus we enter into a reality that was hidden from us by death. Separation from God infects our mind and even our life with death. Deadness is a separation from reality. The Gospel declares that according to the Scripture Jesus was born, lived, died, was buried, and was raised from the dead for the forgiveness of our sins.

Reality as God sees it is to be full of life. A part of Christ Jesus we do get to enjoy a lot of life: food, drink, holy-days,  and celebrations. But these are not THE Reality God has in mind for us in and of themselves. The Apostle Paul shows the Church in Collesea that these good foods and celebrations connect people with their appetites and  longings for satisfaction, for rest, for new beginnings that are only fully realized in Jesus Christ!

So eat. So celebrate. But look always for this reality: Jesus Christ is your life and your victory over death. He is your new beginning.

Our Gospel Realizations: Devastation and Delight

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21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him… Colossians 1:21-22

For those who have received Jesus as Lord two states of mind are held in the same hand.

Once we were alienated from God, hostile in our thinking, and doing evil. That’s devastating!

But now through the very body of Jesus Christ and His crucifixion,

we are presented before Him, the King of Creation,

as reconciled to God, holy, blameless, and above accusation. That’s delightful!

Our motivations are to be progressively shaped by the truth and grace of the Gospel. God wants us to set aside the controlling condemnation that accompanies guilt, shame, and fear in order to live a life in the company of Jesus.

Self-righteousness self-justifies to convince us that we are doing pretty good on our own without God and of course that we are doing better than those “other” people. When this illusion is threatened we become caustic, prickly, and accusatory. Jesus’ righteousness ushers us into a confession of our common condition in sin’s brokenness and into a warm strong humility crafted by His love. Only Jesus’ Gospel-grace can keep devastation and delight together and create abundant life.

Real

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1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.  1 John 1:1-3

Christianity is concerned with what is real. Among the realists and materialists of my community there is a steady fear of religiosity composed of spiritual mumbo jumbo or far out stories or a cult of secret knowledge. I share that fear. However, I also believe our danger is to construct meaning from our achievements with a short-sighted view of life that excludes eternity.

John, the author of this letter, believes reality has a facet that must be  revealed. He treats the life, message and identity of Jesus of Nazareth as an undeniable reality. He writes to the churches of Asia Minor in the last decade of the first century affirming the message of the apostles of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the Life. Jesus is the reality. For John, the Word of Life proclaimed to the churches was a matter of historical reality. The apostles where declaring Jesus, whom they had

heard,

saw,

observed with interest, and

touched.

John says, Jesus was real. Having been with Him, John believes Jesus Christ came from the communion of the Father and Spirit to make the life of God knowable and accessible to us.

the integrity test: alignment and anxiety

On the weekend after the Integrity Workshop we began a new series at Cityview called Integrity Test:  6 realities we have in common with Jesus.  As followers of Jesus we live with a much for severe reality than others do.  We live with the reality of God’s perspective and right to our life.  We live with the costliness of His grace.  Anyone who is a new believer or even consider following Christ is probably already aware of the challenge that accompanies alignment with the Jesus and seeking to walk as walked in this world. (See 1 John 1:6)

 The first reality that the series deals with is that your alignment with Jesus may create anxiety in others.  For the follower of Jesus this is integrity 101 after the matter of honesty.  Our text Luke 2:41-52 opens a window on Jesus going to Jerusalem with Mary and Joseph and then staying behind without their knowledge.  After three days they find him in the temple conversing with the elders there.  His parents are astonished.  And Jesus himself seems genuinely surprised that they did not know where he was or what he was about.  Jesus’ alignment with His Heavenly Father created great anxiety for Mary and Joseph.  In a simple reduction of the problem we can say that when faced with the anxiety of others we are pressed into an integrity test.  Will we be a people-pleaser or a God-pleaser?  You can listen to the message at cityviewchurch.ca later this week.  The listening guide is below.

1.  Alignment with Jesus means you will be doing new things and establishing new patterns.  

“Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”  Luke 2:49
2.  Alignment with Jesus creates change in relationships.  

“When his parents saw him, they were astonished.  His mother said, “Son, why have you treated us like this?  Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”  Luke 2:49
3.  Alignment with Jesus does not mean you abandon all your commitments.   But it does require you to sort out your obligations.

 “But they did not understand what he was saying to them.  Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.”  Luke 2:50-51
4.  Alignement with Jesus propels you into essential areas of growth.  

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”  Luke 2:52

Jesus fully met the demands of reality.  We do not and that problem reveals again why I need a Saviour and why Jesus was fully able to meet the reality of my sin:

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  2 Corinthians 5:21