“Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do” (Philippians 3:16-17, NIV).
In the 3rd chapter of his letter to the Philippians the Apostle Paul delineates two conflicting lifestyles. One lifestyle is characterized by having confidence in oneself and the material things of this world. Let’s call this living down.
The other lifestyle is characterized by faith in Christ and believing in His resurrection power. This lifestyle is characterized by living one’s life on this earth in preparation for the world to come. Let’s call this living up.
“We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich, as having nothing, yet possessing everything” (2 Corinthians 6:8-10, ESV).
Paradox is used to reframe a reality that is outside of normal perceptions. When used in the Bible, paradox helps us perceive an alternative universe–the Kingdom of God–where God rules and reigns.
The normal Christian life is a great paradox. It’s life, but it’s death. It’s sorrow, yet joyful. It’s deficiency and sufficiency.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you” (2 Corinthians 4:7-12, ESV).
The “treasure in jars of clay” verse (2 Corinthians 4:7) is probably in the top three of my favorite Bible verses!
The treasure spoken of refers to “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (vs 6). And God gives this knowledge of Himself–this treasure, revealed in Christ Jesus, to human beings to do with as they please–accept it or reject it.
In these verses the Apostle Paul describes what life is like for those who possess this treasure. He describes what we might call The Normal Christian life–affliction, bewilderment, persecution, adversity AND eternal life.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones” (Psalm 116:15, NASB).
With Easter approaching it seems appropriate to be thinking about death. And the good thing about death!
While Easter is the time we celebrate the Lord’s resurrection, we should also remember that the only way human beings enter into eternal life is through the death of the physical body.
“When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, He was angry in His spirit and deeply moved. ‘Where have you put him?’ He asked. ‘Lord,’ they told Him, ‘come and see.’ Jesus wept” (John 11:33-35, HCSB).
This meditation is Part 4 of a four-part series from the story of the raising of Lazarus from death. When Jesus arrived in Bethany after Lazarus had died, He encountered family and friends mourning over the death of Lazarus.
Jesus exhibited a wide range of emotions as He shared in the sorrow of Lazarus’ death with family and friends.
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die–ever!” (John 11:25-26, HCSB).
This meditation is Part 3 of a four-part series from the story of the raising of Lazarus from death. When Jesus reached Bethany where His good friend, Lazarus, lived, Lazarus had already died and his body placed in a tomb where it had been for four days.
Martha, one of the sisters of Lazarus, came to meet Jesus as He approached the tomb where Lazarus was buried. Martha told Jesus that Lazarus would not have died if Jesus had been there before he actually died. And the words in these verses were the response of Jesus to Martha’s grief-filled complaint.
“Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after that, He said to the disciples, ‘Let’s go to Judea again.'” (John 11:5-7, HCSB).
This meditation is Part 2 of a four-part series from the story of the raising of Lazarus from death. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days…
“When Jesus heard it he said, ‘This sickness will not end in death but is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it'” (John 11:4, HCSB).
This meditation is Part 1 of a four-part series from the story of the raising of Lazarus from death. In this opening part of the story of Lazarus, Jesus received a message from Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, that their brother (and Jesus’ dear friend) was on his deathbed. They wanted Jesus to come and heal Lazarus so he wouldn’t die.
“An hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live” (John 5:25, ESV).
Since Jesus came to this world the first time and inaugurated the Kingdom of God on earth, the time has come when many “dead” people hear the voice of the Son of God and He grants them eternal life.
“Set your sights on the realities of heaven…For you have died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1,3, NLT).
Every once in a while we need to stop and remind ourselves that the life that we live in this world is not our real life. It’s a virtual reality and eternal life is the real reality. That’s why Paul admonishes us to “think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth” in verse 2.