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Archive for February, 2011

Dependency

February 28th, 2011
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One of the great fears we have as we grow older is losing our powers of self sufficiency, becoming weaker and thus dependent on others.

When we are young we enjoy the liberty of standing on our own two feet –a sort of pride in our independence. We have strength, energy and our minds function quickly. There are those who life has not bequeathed this and live their lives dependent on the care of others. We tend to pity them. So the idea that as life goes on we are moving towards a state that we pitied in our younger days can fill us with dread.

One could describe ageing as the adjusting to a series of losses. Thus there can be a lot of grief and a growing sense of being insignificant, of  being of no use to anyone. A burden in fact. If our life is measured by productivity, mobility, creative problem solving and helping others we are less than we were 15 years ago.

So what is the Christian reality that keeps us moving forward with hope as we age?

The first scripture to focus on is

Colossians 3:3-4

3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

We have already died once and for all in Christ. We are now alive for evermore in him. But notice the word “hidden”. Outwardly we are like everyone else. This reality, which we cannot see today, will be revealed when Jesus comes to resurrect us.

So there is something happening to us  beyond human sight.

A deeper analyzes of theses verses is from George Hunsinger:

So Colossians 3:3 has three aspects, it seems to me. Our life is real (that means eternal life), our life is real, it’s hidden — we don’t see it directly, we might get glimpses of it, but the point about not having any direct apprehension of it which you quoted from what I wrote — we don’t know about that life, and about our inclusion in it, and about its really belonging to us on the basis of inferences that we can make about what we see in our own lives or on the basis of judgments that we can make in our own case or anyone else’s case.

We know about it from the gospel. Where else would you learn Colossians 3:3 except you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in death? This is proclaimed to us, and it’s proclaimed to us not necessarily because of the spiritual progress we might think we’re making, but very often in spite of the progress that we’re not making or in spite of the setbacks and falls and the disasters that we’re making out of lives. It’s real, it’s hidden, and it’s yet to come. It’s a matter of hope.

Now sometimes, in order to make this more intelligible, people will say. “It’s just a matter of hope. It’s not yet real.” But the way Barth reads that verse, and I think this is correct, it’s already true in one sense, and it’s yet to come as a matter of promise and fulfillment in another sense. Just because it’s yet to come doesn’t mean it’s not already real. Just because it’s hidden doesn’t mean that it’s not already real. We need those three aspects together — real, hidden, and yet to come. You have died and your life is hid with Christ in God.

The second scripture to look at is

Romans 8:22-27

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Just like everyone else our bodies at this present time are not redeemed. Thus we experience all the groanings of life under the sun. But notice we have something hidden deep within us: we are always accompaneied by one who groans within us, leading us in to God’s will by his intercessions.

This hidden life is a reality that we receive through the proclamation of the good news in Christ. The outward man is wearing out, but the inward man is being renewed.

At the heart of our hope is this working of the Holy Spirit. Paul would say his competence was not from himself but from the ministry of the Spirit. He was dependent on this ministry for all things in his preaching on the kingdom.

Thus as we  grow older we are almost forced to look away from the self and our autonomy and realize our dependency on God and the working of the Holy Spirit deep within our inner person. We also are humbled to realize our dependency on our fellow travellers. In fact the Spirit is actually doing more as we do less, preparing us for God’s life which is in its essence  is a mutual giving and receiving.

As we get older we are being prepared for God’s life which we can describe as:

You cannot have the Father without the Son and Spirit. And similarly with the Son and the Spirit. In other word there is no separated life.

Also each brings glory to the other.

There is an interpersonal existence in which each gives to the other.

Over 60's

Time and Chance (10)

February 28th, 2011
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Scripture of the Day:Romans 8:31-39

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.(NIV)

Jesus was spared from nothing. So we can’t expect to be spared of life’s realities under this sun. We rejoice and give thanks for the good days and daily pleasures life brings –never taking them for granted or even as entitlements.

And in the tough days –the days of loss –we also give thanks for three important Christian realities:

• We are always accompanied, never alone or orphans in this world, filled with one who groans with us.

• Nothing that occurs can get between God’s love for us that is in Jesus Christ, and that includes even death. We are always alive in Christ as dearly beloved children.

• God’s sovereignty can use whatever time and chance brings to mould us in to the likeness of his Son and that he will always make it possible to endure and remain steadfast, even delivering us if necessary. The good outcome is not necessarily in this life.

So in many ways we don’t have to get into Why me? Sometimes we could ask Why not me? Life’s circumstances are tough –none of us get out of this physically alive.

Message for the Day

Time and Chance (9)

February 27th, 2011
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Scripture of the Day: Romans 8 :28-30

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (NIV)

Thus whatever happens to us the Holy Spirit will continue to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ.

Then Paul goes on to reassure us that nothing in all creation can prevent this.

But as he declares this he is virtually saying all these things can occur to us who live under the sun. There is no promise to be protected from them.

Message for the Day