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Monday, March 10, 2014

Living in God's Reality

By Rick Blumenberg / @rickblumenberg

Paul wrote in Philippians 3 about living in the joy of God’s reality. Those aren’t Paul’s words, but my description of what he wrote. After you read this I hope you also read Philippians 3 thru 4:2.
Paul urges us to “rejoice in the Lord” then departs temporarily from this theme to talk about a way of living that steals our joy and fills us with deep anxiety. His thoughts and writings recalled his past efforts to attain salvation by what he thought were “good works”.
There’s nothing wrong with good works. The problem is if we try to use good works as our method of salvation. Paul now knew without doubt it was gained only by faith in Christ—not by any good works he had done. Some, he now realized, not only brought no salvation, they were not really good. They were instead, very bad works. In his zeal he had actually persecuted the same church he was now trying to build. Paul knew others who had tried that same futile road to heaven and he knew such behavior would only steal their joy. He didn’t want others to walk that same dead end road when such behavior would not gain salvation and could even find them fighting against God instead of serving him.
Paul knew God had a better idea. In verse seven he wrote, “…whatever was to my profit I now consider loss…compared to…knowing Christ….” He even considered them “rubbish”.
Paul did many good things. But call them “rubbish”?
Because such good works only bring despair if we depend on them for salvation. They produce joy only when done in response to loving God and loving humanity. We are all God’s people by creation. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we are all forgiven.
Paul’s former life had been lived with a wrathful view of God. Paul’s life reflected the wrath he assumed was the nature of God. When Paul met Jesus, he met God’s grace and mercy. Realizing that grace and mercy was for everyone brought Paul an indescribable joy. He had moved into the awesome light of God’s reality and found it amazing.
God’s reality is that we all are forgiven. Christ died for our sin, but too many people still live in the defeat of hopeless guilt. Mentally, even Paul hadn’t fully attained it (v. 12). Paul knew the truth of forgiveness, but he still struggled to fully grasp the limitless grace of God. Nor the fact it was for him, Paul, a middle-eastern terrorist, who had been saved from his own terror and from the terror he had dumped on the church. He now realized this forgiveness had been granted both to him and to all humanity!
Most do not grasp that God loves everyone. Paul knew his own mind still hadn’t caught up with the reality of God’s grace. In verse 16 he urged “let us live up to what we have already attained”. We are spiritual siblings of the Lord Jesus Christ because God loved us and sent Jesus to bring us all to God.
God opened the door for you to live a life of joy. That door is Jesus! An antidote for past sin, Jesus also offers faith as immunity from future sin and a welcome into God’s amazing grace.
Open yourself to the Joy-giver, Jesus. Give him past failures and claim what is already yours; a loving relationship with God, through Jesus Christ. Then God’s Holy Spirit can help you claim with heart and mind what Jesus attained for you through his death and resurrection. You too can begin to live in the joy of God’s reality. 
I’m Rick Blumenberg and that’s My View from Tanner Creek. 


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