I am grateful for the good responses to this sermon series we concluded Sunday. I’m excited to start a new series on Worship this week, but before we move on, I want to share a summary of the last 4 weeks. What follows is a devotional I wrote years ago, but it works well as a wrap up.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
“…in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:17
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… Ephesians 2:4-5
After Adam and Eve eat the fruit, the predicted death comes, but not in the way we expect. They do not fall over where they stand, but instead they experience death in 4 primary relationships.
- They are dead to God: so they hide from him when they hear him in the garden.
- They are dead to each other: so Adam blames Eve for what has happened to them.
- They are dead to the self: so they attempt to cover their guilt and shame with fig leaves.
- They are dead to creation: so now there is a curse: pain in childbirth; thorns and thistles to infest the ground.
From that moment on, death is described as the great enemy of humanity, and it is an apt description of why the world is the way it is today.
- Why are there so many religions? Because we are dead: afraid of God.
- Why is there animosity between individuals and on a global scale? Because our relationships with each other are subject to the curse of death.
- Why do we vacillate between the poles of self-aggrandizement and self-loathing? Because we are dead to self, confused about our own true identity.
- Why are there natural disasters? Terrible accidents? Because what once was pronounced good is now subject to the curse of Death.
Yes, death is the great enemy of humanity, and it is a formidable foe, even stronger than the law. (Consider how the 10 Commandments bring order and structure to those 4 relationships but do not solve the problem of death.) Something stronger than death is needed to break the curse.
Friends, that is why the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important even in the history of the world. In the resurrection of Jesus, death is undone, and the curse is broken. It is why the message of the earliest Christians was focused on the resurrection. They did not risk their lives to proclaim a gospel of “be nice like Jesus.” They risked their lives to declare the resurrection: Jesus is victorious over death, and the ones who are in him share in that victory. We have, as the apostle says, been made alive together with Christ. That means:
- We can be alive to God! No longer afraid, but walking with the Lord in intimacy.
- We can be alive to our neighbor! No longer with hatred or blame, but alive in love and fellowship.
- We can be alive to our selves! No longer filled with guilt or shame but fully aware of our value in Christ.
- We can be alive to creation! Rejoicing that disasters, illnesses, and accidents do not have the final word.
When Jesus tells us that he has come that we might have life and have it abundantly, do you see what he means? In him, we are no longer captive to death. In him, we are alive!
Prayer: Offer a prayer of gratitude to God. Through Jesus Christ he has done something for us that we could never do for ourselves.