Wednesday, December 13, 2006

living out the life

This is nothing short of a life that we, in the Jesus community, all of us in Jesus, are living out. It is "the Life". As the new life in Jesus by the Holy Spirit. In communion with each other, in Jesus, and in union and communion with the triune God.

This is why, though rules have their place, they really do not have a kind of prior place in the living out of this life. For example, as one in Jesus, I don't refuse to steal, simply because it's a rule from God I must keep, and because it's part of a choice, among the many choices I must make along the way. No. But I refuse to steal, or fight any temptation I may have to do so, because I have this life in Jesus. And having this life, I want to live it out. And I have the dynamic in God to do so.

I was brought up with a form of legalism that made how one dresses (especially women), or what one does (and doesn't do) to be of prior importance in living out Christianity, in being a Christian. Fortunately there were those who knew better. But by and large Christianity was seen more for what we do and don't do, rather than who we are and "the life" that we have in Jesus. When I finally became a Christian, the new life in Jesus was at the forefront of my experience. I overflowed with this new love and grace I had found. But I gradually receded back into a kind of orientation, that, while not surrendering "the life" aspect entirely, nevertheless relegated it to a status that put the onus on me. As if living out this life, and remaining in it, depends on me.

In truth we live out this new life, only because of the dynamic of this life. Yes, we must choose to remain in it, or abide, just as our Lord tells us (John 15). But I live and move and have my being, as a Christian, as one in Jesus, only because of this new life from God. Within that comes freedom to obey God. Not by rote. Not by formula. Not by many ponderous decisions I must make every day. But as an expression of this new life given to me in Jesus. This means there is kind of a mystery and an unpredictability in it all. While at the same time there are parameters in the kingdom of God, in which we live.

And the living out of the life is communal. Though we individually live in it, we don't live in it just as individuals. We live this new life with others. Both with those who participate in this life with us. And with those to whom God would touch and transform through our lives, with this new life. In many ways. Into the Way. The Truth. And the Life. Jesus.

What do you find important, helpful or true in living out the life?


jps said...

Amen! Good preaching!


L.L. Barkat said...

I like to think of communal life like a painting. What color am I today? And what texture? Am I overwhelming, or invisible?

Ted M. Gossard said...

James, Thanks. Preaching can be fun. (Though I didn't know it when typing this post).

L.L., Interesting thought. I guess one color scheme, just as with reference to one's physical appearance, would predominate. But I have to admit to different hues at different times. And our color certainly can affect the color of the community. So I think it good to be kind of invisible at times, while still being present- maybe in a way that lets others' colors especially come through clearly.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Good post. Having the life in Jesus.

I like it!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks Allan.

I was reminded of 1 John 1 today, in just reflecting on this subject some. The apostle speaks of the Word as the life, in which believers participate together in fellowship with.