Friday, April 28, 2006

mission and joy

When one read 2 Corinthians and Acts, one arrives to an understanding of the difficulties and trials involved when on mission as the Jesus community. And especially so for those who are set apart for the building of Christ's church in places where it has little or no roots.

There is a special setting apart for some to be involved "full time" in missional work. This involves the bringing and impact of the good news of God's kingdom in Jesus, to bear on people in need. In difficult areas, often devastated by poverty and crime, we need to be servants, serving and supporting others who are called to such places. "Third world" countries and other difficult places globally also see some who are engaged in bringing Jesus and his message of the kingdom. So as to impact people's lives and society, by seeing Jesus build his church there. And doing good to help those in need.

All of us, in a true sense, are called to be those on mission. Wherever we are. In the corporate world. In the factory. At school. In our neighborhoods. In our families. Being on mission is nothing less than a part of who we are, in Jesus. This is true individually and together, for us, as the Jesus community. It involves sharing the message of reconciliation to God in Jesus, and it includes bringing God's restoration and healing to a broken world, in many ways.

Out of the hardships and trials that come, for those who live by faith, is joy. Joy is the sense of God's blessing, grace and peace. It is not merely having "a good time", though it includes that. But it also includes difficult times. Even the worst of times. There is that deep sense of God's hand on our lives which gives us that purpose that keeps us grounded in our commitment. Not without doubts and fears and wavering in our thoughts and emotions. But always, when all that settles, there is left that abiding sense of God's peace and our purpose in him.

Lord Jesus, We are light in you, let us live, wherever we are, as children of light. Let us see your kingdom come, first in our homes, and then out from that among those around us, and to the ends of the earth. And may your joy be our strength. Amen.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

fun and mission

29 What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who are married should live as if they were not; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

1 Corinthians 7 (TNIV)

Fun along with laughter are part of God's lot and blessing for people on earth (Ecclesiastes). This is part of our humanity. And it is especially helpful in that the problems, cares, sorrows and evils (along with complexities) of this life and world can bog us down with heavy burdens. Not what God has for us in Jesus, who promises the weary and burdened, rest (Matthew 11:28-30).

At the same time, we in Jesus are to be those on mission. It is one of taking up our cross, in this world, in following Jesus. It is one of doing good, and bringing his life to all. It is a mission to those who are desperate in need, spirtually- and many physically. It is a spiritual battle, fraught with, at times, what seems to be overwhelming odds against us, and plagued with difficulties. A time that calls for at least much prayer, and maybe at times- fasting.

Paul, in the above passage, does not at all deny using the things of this world. Only becoming engrossed in them, as if that is all there is, is what he is against. We enjoy God's creation, as he makes clear in other writings, but we do so as those on mission.

With a spring in our step, and some laughter in our voices, let us be- and go out- on mission, as those who would be God's light in Jesus to a dark world. Let's be those on mission, and don't miss the fun along the way. Amen.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

humanity's plight

Humankind. How do we understand our humanity and humankind? Identity is the gift we receive from God from the Story of God in Scripture and from the Son of God, who gives new, really renewed meaning to the word human. Of course this humanity is on the one hand great and good: made in the image of God, fearfully and wonderfully made. On the other hand this humanity is flawed: fallen and sinful and therefore broken in true relation to God, to others, to itself and to creation. Both must be taken into account when considering people and humanity at large.

According to Mark Biddle, as Scot McKnight sees it from Biddle's book, Missing the Mark, this is the plight of us humans in our brokeness:
Basic sin: basic mistrust of God
Major manifestations: Pride (straining to be more than we are designed to be) and Sloth (fear to become what we are designed to become).

This is related to what God created us to be in the first place. And what, in Jesus and his atoning work, we can be coming towards and into, again. A relationship that participates in God's dynamic community of love in the trinitarian perichoresis or dance. That God would lift us humans into his very community is astounding. But it is apparent in the reality that God becomes one of us humans, in Jesus. God becoming what we are, so that we can become like him.

I think Mark Biddle's take is true to Scripture and the Story of God found in it from Genesis to Revelation. Sin is at the heart: mistrusting God. And its forms are surely multiple, but could be categorized under pride and fear. Though surely there is alot of interlap as we participate in both running away from and raising our fists towards God.

Jesus calls us back to our real selves as God created us. And bids us come with him to invite others to join in finding themselves- in him and in his community of redeemed humans and in the community of the Trinity. Jesus made the way for us, by becoming one of us, and dying for our sins, and being raised in resurrection for our new life in him. We need to come to God, by simple faith. Acknowledge our brokeness and trust in his grace, his gift to us in Jesus. Then begin to live in this new life, even now. In the community of Jesus' people.

Easy? No. Is this what it's all about? Absolutely. God help us to find the way back to our true selves and beyond that into his Story of true freedom and love, by finding the way back to him, in Jesus. Amen.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


On Friday night our daughter and I attended a Michael Card concert at an area church. In it he talked about lament. He made an interesting comment, something to this effect- according to my memory and surely paraphrased: (I don't mean to be critical...- I believe he said), but in worship music today I am amazed at how quickly hearts are in God's presence to worship God. I'm sorry, I'm not there. I can't just get into that pronto (pronto, definitely not a word Michael used :). But I can always offer to God my lament.

Michael Card does have a book out on lament. I need to read it. I think he has something here.

The psalms are full of lament. And a good number are called lament psalms. Of course we have the book of Lamentations, and we have laments from Jesus himself, over Jerusalem as well as on the cross.

Giving God our lament is giving him our sorrows and pain. It is surely related to casting our cares and burdens on him, because he cares for us.

Lament is being real before God. But in that reality finding his peace, joy and presence. He is the God who is Emmanuel. He knows firsthand our sorrows and pain. He is able to help us, as we come to him.

Lord, You have blessed us. The real us. The person who is troubled and sometimes discouraged and at times even in despair. You are there for us, as one who understands. Let us keep coming to you with our troubles. Knowing you will help us through them. By your love and grace. Amen.

Monday, April 24, 2006

turning 50

Today I join Our Daily Bread (published where I work at RBC Ministries; booklets made on our team's lines) in turning 50 this month.

It is a little scary as you more and more realize that the days marked for you are less and less. More than anything else, for me it is a time of thanksgiving and reflection.

God's goodness and faithfulness over the years has been manifest to me and to us, through some difficult times. Sure, I wish I would have had the faith and understanding to have better realized the vocation through gifts God has given me. But I am thankful for the vision he is giving us and his faithfulness to my wife Deb, daughter Tiffany and myself. As we continue on this walk by faith.

I guess I'm passing the appearance in age of Jesus when he was here on earth (John 8:57). Though I hope that in heart and life, by grace I am beginning to better resemble him. In everything, I hope to have the daily face to face encounters with God through the face of Christ, and so, not only be able to make it through another day, but more, to be changed increasingly into his image in my demeanor and life (2 Cor 3,4).

God, Thank you for these years on earth. And for your goodness to me in so many ways. Let me reflect your goodness and glory in the days you have left for me. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Over on Jesus Creed, there is a group every day, involved in what you might call, "theologizing". Scot McKnight is a Christian scholar and professor who especially works on understanding the Jesus of the gospels and what this means for us today in view of the rest of the New Testament: Paul, etc. The goal, I believe, is for us to arrive to a better understanding of truth. The participation results in "theologizing" together. In this we gain insight from different perspectives gained from other backgrounds, studies, experiences, etc. Or we at least, hopefully better understand the postions of those who differ with us.

Theologizing is often looked down on by Christians. Sometimes for good reasons. If theology is some kind of heady, high falutin stuff, only for the initiated (in those studies) then I wonder what good it is. It may be good for the specialists, but somewhere along the line it will have to be brought down to earth in terms in which we all live. On the other hand, we are to love God with all our minds, as well as with all the rest of us. So it is good to exercise our minds, in love to God, and in seeking to be obedient to his revelation to us, in Jesus and Scripture with the Church.

Theologizing ought to challenge our minds but the goal must be love, that comes out of a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. A love that expresses itself, of course, with ongoing good deeds. And that ever seeks to grow in conformity to Jesus.

Theologizing can be suffocating and BO-RING!!! On the other hand, it can be refreshing, stimulating and helpful for our lives in the faith that is in Jesus.

I encourage us all, let us be challenged by some good books and blogs that help us learn to "theologize". A great book to start would be Scot McKnight's: The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

the Church as the Pillar and Foundation of the Truth

...the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
(1 Timothy 3:15; TNIV)

A high view of Scripture is not necessarily at odds with a high view of the Church. I believe Scripture is the Word of God written. And I believe that the Church is God's household (1 Timothy 3:15) on earth, by which people can come into a living relationship with God through Christ.

Evangelicals (my tradition) have a history of a "high" view of Scripture and usually a low view of the Church. Give me a Bible and I'll get the truth. What the Church or councils say means nothing.

But this has caused us plenty of problems. Not to mention even more denominations. Starting over variant readings of Scripture. To be sure, these are churches. So you kind of go back to square one. Where do we find God's truth of the gospel of Christ? In churches. But with us as evangelicals, usually with the roundhouse: sola Scriptura, to the Scriptures alone.

The Church, for all its faults is what Christ has promised to build. On the rock of Peter. The apostles and prophets being the foundation with Christ Jesus himself as the Cornerstone.

And that Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth. Locally and collectively, together- in the world. Of course not all "churches" are part of the Church that Paul describes in 1 Timothy 3:15. Nor does any church (or denomination), much less any one person have it all together when it comes to the revelation of God's truth to us. No. We need the Church at large. Its testimony through time and space. Yesterday, today and until the marriage supper of the Lamb when the Church is together forever with Christ.

So let's put more confidence in our gatherings, in God working in them so that they are part of the Church: the pillar and foundation of the truth. And let's put less confidence in our own ongoing study of Scripture. Granted: Do test all things. Each of us needs to be in Scripture regularly to be able to do that. That ends up being part and parcel of what the Church is. And is by God, the safeguard as well as vanguard for advancing God's revelation of the truth of his kingdom in Jesus, by the Holy Spirit.

Lord, Thank you for your Church which you are ever building. God, For your household in which we dwell. Let us be those who know and follow you and who help others to join us in doing the same. Through your Church. In Jesus. By the Spirit. Amen.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

all ages needed

Looking at Scripture and life, I find that all ages are needed. All ages, from infant to youth all the way to old age (and everything between) are needed. The older building into the lives of the younger ("leading by example"). There needs to be an essential unity of community that includes all ages (better to have a crying baby than to divide everyone up so everyone can be more "comfortable").

Tonight there was a gathering of West Michigan emergents led by John Frye (at the Black Rose Irish Pub). Yes, the beer was good. There were no underage there, of course. But what did stand out, among other things was the difference in ages among us. How we are to be the Jesus community to the world was the heart of the conversation. Old and young shared. John had a fine presentation and paper for us, and stimulated a good conversation. Some of his basic points I will ponder.

A couple older gentleman, especially one at length shared. And some younger ones, including John's daughter shared, with that refreshing youthful enthusiasm. And I was impressed with the content of what was said.

I believe we need to guard participation in gatherings and events by all ages. Now granted, it can't take place most the time in the setting we met in tonight. We need all ages, including the very young, to enter in and be part of the whole.

We remember Jesus gathering little children and blessing them. And telling his disciples that one had to become like a little child to even enter into the kingdom of God. We all, of all ages, need each other.

Jesus. Let us be your people. Together. Those we're comfortable with, and those we're not. Young and old. Let us be generous and open. Knowing you are with us all. Amen.

Monday, April 17, 2006

a spirit of the age

I want to rant a little. Complain. Whatever you like.

I see among us a spirit. A spirit of the age, no less. There are many spirits that make up the totality of the spirit of the age.

A spirit that likes to criticize and marginalize. A spirit that really believes that might makes right (and God therefore must see us as right -"justify" us- since we have the might). A spirit that cuts off all who don't see eye to eye with it. A spirit that sees itself as among "the best" and on "the cutting edge". And a spirit that insists others join it, and if not, than they are out.

Do I see this spirit everywhere among us? Thank God no. In fact, though it is very strong where it is (how could it be anything but strong where it runs its course? it is a form of slavery), it seems to be at least in "germ" form in many places among us. After all it is part of the spirit of the age. The world in which we live and move and have our being. Though for us, in the Jesus community, this being should be from another place.

Jesus presents and has made for us a completely different way. The way of the lowliest servant. Taking everyone seriously and reaching out even to a Judas. It is the way of love, a love that will not let go. A love that when rejected is grieved. A love that is contrary to and unable to mix or be a part of this spirit of the age or the spirit of the age.

God, help us. Help us to live in your kingdom even down here in a world in which another kingdom holds sway. Yes, help us do so, even when such seems to have taken hold among your people. Let us be those who are really of the community of Jesus himself. Amen.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Lord has risen!

"The Lord has risen!" "The Lord has risen indeed!"

At Easter Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. This is a celebration of Jesus' victory over death, sin and the powers of the darkness of this world. It is the victory of God by which God's kingdom comes to earth, as it is in heaven.

Jesus' message was nothing less than the kingdom of God coming to earth. And ultimately bringing God's shalom (blessing, peace and prosperity) to the world. It is the hope, and more than that, the confidence that, in Jesus, God will make all things new. That all creation is to share in God's redemptive work in Jesus. That in Jesus there is nothing less than a new creation.

The Jesus community, all who put their faith in Jesus and gather together as Jesus' body in the world- is where we find the risen Lord today. What we as Jesus' community are to be about, is what our risen Lord is about, the proclamation and demonstration of the kingdom of God in Jesus. As we who have faith in Jesus are partakers of his resurrection life, so we are to breathe and carry that life, wherever we go.

Jesus' resurrection and the new creation is, in the end, the only future there is. In it is the new humanity. A new world of justice, peace and blessing.

Like Jesus was, we as the Jesus community are on mission in this world. We are God's resurrection people. To proclaim and perform the kingdom of God in Jesus. That Jesus is Lord. And his lordship brings new life and hope that will ultimately see all things made new.

Father, Thank you for the resurrection of Jesus. Thank you that we who have faith share in his resurrection- over sin, death and the powers of the darkness of this world. Thank you Jesus for now living in us. Individually and in community. And that by your life, even our mortal bodies will be raised to immortality. Thank you Spirit for your work in helping us proclaim and perform this good news to a world desperately in need of it. Let us be faithful. To the end. Knowing that you win because of the new Day, that first Easter. Amen.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Bob Robinson again in need of prayer

Bob Robinson is in serious need of our prayers again. See Jesus Creed for the latest.

known by the scars

Known By The Scars

Mother Mary cried as she held heaven in her arms
For the shadow of the scar she saw was clear
As her own bewildered baby lay weeping for the world
Whose frightened tears would free us all from fear

The marks of death that God chose never to erase
The wounds of loves eternal mark
When the kingdom comes, with its perfected sons
He will be known by the scars

For a time he sought to tell the world he was the way
That God the Father had a human heart
With his own holy hands he sought to touch and heal their scars
But they chose to tear those gentle hands apart

What was there to wipe away the tears
That burned the holy eyes of God
As he looked upon his one and only Son
Who'd never sinned nor lied
Yet was crucified


And after they had slain him and laid him in the grave
And the ones he loved had fled into the dark
Then his love and power raised him
God won the victory
But they only recognized him by the scars


Michael Card

Of many favorite parts in Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ", perhaps my most favorite part is the end (for some of you, that is the best part: the end, since you don't like the film, which I would agree does have its flaws). Jesus has just "awakened" out of his "sleep" of death. What is clear (if too much so) is the scar on his hand.

We remember that Jesus, after the resurrection was recognized by his breaking of the bread before his disciples. But scars in his hands and side were present, if not that easily noticed. Jesus showed them to Thomas, inviting him to touch them, to cast out his doubts.

Jesus suffered for us. The great war that he won was through the cross. By his victory all God's world is to be made new- a new creation. This is why he could say just before he commits his spirit to the Father: "It is accomplished."

Jesus. You won the victory for us. By the cross. By your death. And by your resurrection. Thank you for your great love to us. Thank you for your scars for us. We worship you, and give our lives to you. To follow you as your community and become like you in your death. That we might bring your life to all. Amen.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

in the Garden

In the Garden

Trembling with fear
Alone in the garden
Battle before the final war
Blood became tears
There in the garden
To fall upon the silent stones

There in the darkness the light
And the darkness stood still
Two choices, one tortured will
And there, once the choice had been made
All the world could be saved
By the One in the garden

The light of the dawn
Was seen in the garden
By gentle eyes
So sadly wise
The angels appear
They come to the garden
Clothed with sighs
They realize
The One they've adored from the start
Will be broken apart
By the ones he had come to save
So they're here
Simply now to be near
He's no longer alone,
They sit by him and moan

Michael Card

This is one of Michael Card's most beautiful and poignant songs, very moving in words and music. We get the sense, as we should, that we are stepping on holy ground here. That we need to remove our shoes (our normal activity) and meditate in silence.

Jesus' full, undiminished humanity is never more evident than here, in the Garden. He has to face this alone (his disciples were to pray for their own sake, and to watch with him, for one hour, but failed). Only he could face this issue and bring it to resolution. But it was a dark, pitched battle. Though unsullied by sin and having lived a life of complete trust in the Father- by the Spirit, Jesus struggles to the breaking point as he submits his will to the Father's will, after asking if possible that this cup would be removed.

Because of Jesus' choice made in a pitched battle in the darkness, he will walk through this dark and bloody road, for the salvation of all humankind. But only because of his choice, here.

Angels appear and strengthen him. We can only wonder what they thought. This song's words capture their love and sorrow which surely was present that night.

Jesus. Only you could go to this dark place of prostration of your soul to the Father. Only you made that choice by which we can now be yours. Let us more appreciate and bow before the mystery of what you did for us that night. And let us enter into your ongoing work, because of your death and resurrection, for the salvation of all. Amen.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

come to the Table

Come to the Table

Come to the table
And savor the sight
The wine and the bread that was broken
And all have been welcomed to come
If they might
Accept as their own these two tokens
The bread is his body
The wine is the blood
And the One who provides them is true
He freely offers
We freely receive
To accept and believe him is all we must do

Come to the table
And taste of the glory
And savor the sorrow
He's dying tomorrow
The hand that is breaking the bread
Soon will be broken
And here at the table
Sit those who have loved you
One is a traitor and one will deny
Though he's lived his life for them all
And for all be crucified

Come to the table
He's prepared for you
The bread of forgiveness, the wine of release
Come to the table and sit down beside him
The Savior wants you to join in the feast

Come to the table and see in his eyes
The love that the Father has spoken
And know you are welcome
Whatever your crime
Though every commandment you've broken
For he's come to love you
And not to condemn
And he offers a pardon of peace
If you'll come to the table
You'll feel in your heart
The greatest forgiveness
The greatest release


Come to the table he's prepared for you
The bread of forgiveness, the wine of release
Come to the table and sit down beside him
The Savior wants you to join in the feast

Michael Card, Niles Borop

The Lord's Table is open to us all. We are ever invited. To remember what Jesus has done for us in his death. In giving his body and blood for us. So we can share in his body and blood. In the forgiveness of our sins. In becoming a part of his body.

It is solemn in one sense, and celebratory in another. It is accepting what he has done and provides for us. And becoming a part of the fellowship of the Table. Our Lord gathering us as his people. To be forgiven. To be healed. To know and be known. To worship our Savior and Lord.

Thank you Jesus for your Table open to us. Let us be those who come. And keep coming. Knowing you are ever there for us. And that we are together with you. We worship you. And love you. Because you first loved and love us. Amen.

Monday, April 10, 2006

tired, yet ever going

Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 4:16 (TNIV)

There is something invigorating about a relationship. Though the passage is speaking about blessings that come from our relationship to God in Christ, yet at the heart of it all is a relationship. To God, the triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. To each other, as sisters and brothers in Jesus.

Relationships are not easy. But this is where we derive strength. In this passage it is about deriving a resurrection life kind of strength. But this is really in the context of knowing God, of knowing Christ (Philippians 3:10). And as this passage says, though we are tired due to growing older in our bodies, and facing the hassles and pressures of life- yet God is at work in us, to renew us spiritually, day after day.

I have been depressed lately. But somehow, somewhere, in spite of hassles and pressures and even anxieties on my part, this depression seemed to dissipate and disappear. How? I don't know. But I do believe it has something to do with what this scripture is talking about.

This passage is about mission. It is also about "the face of Christ". We need that "face to face" relationship to God through Christ (like Moses). Let's turn our face towards God through Jesus. And seek to do that with like-minded followers of Jesus. Knowing that we do so as those who would bring the light of Jesus' face to the world. Then we'll be tired, yet ever going. Amen.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

he rides on to die

Perhaps my favorite of music remembering "the Holy Week" is from Michael Card and his album, Known by the Scars. The following is remembering what we remembered today in our gatherings, "Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem."
Ride On To Die

Sense the sorrow untold
As you look down the road
At the clamoring crowd drawing near
Feel the heat of the day
As you look down the way
Hear the shouts of Hosanna the King

Oh, daughter of Zion
Your time's drawing near
Don't forsake him, oh don't pass it by
On the foal of a donkey
As the prophets had said
Passing by you, he rides on to die

Come now little foal
Though you're not very old
Come and bear your first burden bravely
Walk so softly upon
All the coats and the palms
Bear the One on your back oh so gently

Midst the shouting so loud
And the joy of the crowd
There is One who is riding in silence
For he knows the ones here
Will be fleeing in fear
When their Shepherd is taken away


Soon the thorn cursed ground
Will bring forth a Crown
And this Jesus will seem to be beaten
But he'll conquer alone
Both the shroud and the stone
And the prophesies will be completed


Jesus' triumphal entry was not triumphal as the world saw it. But for a moment, we see a glimpse of the kind of triumph God brings and will bring in the coming of his kingdom in Jesus.

It is one of humility. Of lowliness being exalted to the highest place. Of fitting praise to God for the salvation in the Messiah, who is and will completely, at long last, bring in God's kingdom. It is one that is recognized and blessed by those who are child-like in faith.

It is one of Jesus' loving act of death, to bring in true life to all and to this world.

Lord Jesus. We bless you as the coming King. To you belongs all glory and honor and praise. Let our lives be about letting you and your rule hold full sway. That we might see your mercy and justice extend from your reign among us, into this world. To your eternal honor and praise. Amen.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

my blogging on stories of the atoning work of Jesus

I began to post on the various stories of Jesus' atoning work as told by the Church through the centuries: recapitulation and ransom, which were to be followed by satisfaction, penal substitution and example, as found in Scot McKnight's book, Embracing Grace: A Gospel for All of Us.

I've come to realize, in reflecting on it, that I simply am not qualified. I could see that I was writing these summaries from too narrow a perspective (my own tradition, which is only part of the Christian faith) and most importantly, that I lack the necessary reading to do so.

As so many of us do, we depend on good Christian theologians and scholars a great deal in trying to better understand God's revelation to us. I would especially recommend Scot's book since it is clear and can be depended on for a good overall view of these matters.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Gospel of Judas

Scot McKnight on Jesus Creed has begun a series on the Gospel of Judas. This will be helpful in understanding what it is and what it means, relating to what is being said about it, in the media. And why the Church has rejected it from the beginning to this day.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

41 Things Parents Ought to Know (Part 4 of 4) (Jim Martin)

Great wisdom for us parents from pastor and blogger Jim Martin. Don't miss any of these: one, two, three and four.

hard to be like Jesus

I think of Rich Mullins' song to that effect. And so true. But to this, nothing less, we as the Jesus community, are called. Over and over again in the New Testament, we see that (example: Philippians 2:5-8; 1 Peter 2:21).

It would be nice if this new Adam thing happened to us in a garden of Eden-like atmosphere. But not so. Instead in the same world and life that Jesus lived, down here on a wonderful and fallen earth.

But really, this is to our benefit. We're to become like Jesus in his death, no less (Philippians 3:10)- and so participating in his life through his resurrection (beginning now- Romans 6). But that can only be so as we live in the same existence that he lived in. The way he made for us and in which we can now walk/live.

I think oftentimes the struggles we have are from hearing voices that water this down, or drown it out completely. Their "gospel" may be popular. But it is not the gospel Jesus preached. Not a glorified existence of this world, but an existence of the kingdom of God breaking in to this world- in Jesus, and in his community.

Father, Let us live as your Son did. In this world and in the way he has made for us, once for all. Let us become like him in his death. And so live in his life, more fully, even now. That we might be a blessing to many. As your children. Amen.