Future Dread There’s a lot to concern us about the future; global, local, personal, and even trivial issues. Global climate change and terrorism, Euro financial crises; catapulting house prices and the impending vacancy at Forrest Hill; my own health and finances, whether I should keep favouring this cafe with my service, and what should I wear to my friend’s wedding. These aspects of our future are often subject to influences and movements over which we have no control, or tentative control at best. There is a special place in many of our hearts for the futures of our young ones and we wonder what will become of them. Unfortunately it’s not always something we view with confidence or assuredness, because of all the uncertainties and variables that bear down on our futures. And yet as believers in the crucified and risen Lord we have a future, in the short, medium and long term that is in fact quite assured, not just because of Who we believe to hold our future, but because of the environment in which we now live.
Coming Alive [We look at Romans 6] Our past is already dealt with – we have been crucified with Christ, and as such our sin-characterised pasts have died with Him – they no longer have any significance for our present. We are not subject to the agency of the Law, but rather we are now subject to God’s grace. Having died to sin, we no longer live in that reality, rather we “walk in newness of life” by the decision of God, to which we responded with our own decision, which is inevitable because God declares that we are no longer enemies but His friends from now on.
This is our present and the future that lies before us – a future characterised by an important work of God – our sanctification (the work of making us holy i.e. God-like). This is the state of those who have been buried in Christ and raised in Christ in baptism. We are alive in a whole new way, it’s our own resurrection reality, caught up in the resurrection of Jesus’ own defeat of the grace forever. This is not a continuation of the old life, but a complete change to a new life, a transformation – this is after all what being born-again is about. The death of the womb-like grave must be surpassed by living and breathing in the pure, life giving air of the eternal, everlasting life.
I used to think this imposed a moral imperative upon us to live differently, but it’s more than that, in fact this the life we do live, and we do, henceforth, walk towards this new lasting future. That’s what doing Life means. Living in sin is not living, and you and I can’t go back there, even if we wanted to. In front of us from here on is life in Christ that corresponds to His resurrection. From now on the past is precisely that, the past – no matter what creative fiction says, you can’t go back – it won’t be fun.
We live now for God, for His Kingdom, for His mission. We praise God because of what happened to and through Jesus happened for me, for you, for us. So all the honey-traps of our pre-baptism, pre-conversion life are no longer us, no longer for us…they are irrelevant. So as Paul says we no longer make our members available as instruments for sin. They are instead instruments for God’s righteous purposes – precisely because we are under grace into eternity. (Praise God for the riches of His Word.)
Truly Living What then does this mean for us, here and now, in our not quite so everyday world? It doesn’t mean a maddening, dangerous cycle of denial. We must own to what is happening to us and around us, and admit the temptations to fall back into old life patterns and into the clutch of addictions to which we have died. How else can we know those aspects, in the midst of which we need to lean into God, and His ever-present resurrection life? But it does mean not accepting that this or that trouble is my life now. This is no longer me. God has moved me on to Life, having put to death that sin-dominated past and raised me to life with eternal quality and without end.
This is why we read the Psalms and plunge into the wonders of scripture every day; to remind ourselves who God is and what it is He has done and is doing for us; to make available a door for the Holy Spirit to take over for another day and bring to fruition those wonderful characteristics headlined with love, joy and peace. But we also remind ourselves where it is we now live so that we will gladly expend our lives in His service – not just waiting for opportunities to live for Him but actually looking for ways we can bring His realm into the lives of those whose path we cross every day. See how it’s not just an “everyday” world?
The wisdom, the power, the love of God demonstrated perfectly in Jesus are all aspects of this Life into which He we have been baptised and made new. We are daily being renewed into this new world, this land of eternal opportunity. Live in it – now.