Saturday, August 21, 2010

NAKED AS THE DAY WE WERE BORN

NAKED AS THE DAY WE WERE BORN
A. Brother
©2010 Narrowgate Publishing

“For you died, and your life is now hidden
with Christ in God.”
Col. 3:3

When the westward movement of men and families was in full swing in the United States, wagon trains loaded with people, possessions, and precious keepsakes trundled across the plains and mountains.  These people, in essence, were pioneers, looking for a new start, a new life, and huge change.

What they found was hardship beyond their dreams, and the cost of this new life was often death to all they held dear.  The evidence of their struggle was strewn across the grassy landscape.  The way was so hard they had to abandon furniture, clothes, baggage of all kinds.  Heirlooms were the last to go, but just before the final ascent through the western mountains, whole meadows were piled with the leftovers of their old lives, heaps of things that were now useless to them.  They had found that the price of new life was the death of the old one.

In the spiritual realm, this presents a useful picture to us.  Christ is all we need, and all we can use in the new Kingdom.  None of our precious possessions, whether carnal or religious, will be able to come with us.  The narrow gate means nakedness. 

How did I miss this secret for so many years?  Why did I work and reach out and try myself to live the “Christian life” that I thought I was supposed to live?  When was this preached to me and I missed it?  Where was my mind and my heart that I didn’t hear this, or see this in Scripture?  Who was telling me this, or showing me this, and I didn’t get it?

Many of you might be asking yourselves the same questions, as God speaks to you through His Spirit.

God’s will is that we learn His secrets.  God’s Word teaches us clearly, but because of our own religious leanings, our own filters we’ve built in our minds; because of what we’ve been taught and modeled, and taken up ourselves and carried on, we are blind to the true riches of Christ which are held out to us.  Our own religious thoughts and preferences become huge stumbling blocks to us, keeping us from the Christ-life.

If we would know Christ, we must allow Him to take us through death and into His new life. 

“Since you died with Christ to the
basic principles of this world, why,
as though you still belonged to it,
do you submit to its rules…”
Col. 2:20

Brothers and sisters, do you realize how addicted we are to rules?  How loathe we are to live the life of Christ without limits?  How tightly we grasp our precious religious icons, our concepts of church and living the “Christian life” by keeping whatever “basic principles” we’ve learned are in the Bible, or in our religious heritage?  Do we realize we are compromising the very heart of the gospel, and living contrary to the Scripture when we do this?

I cringe now, after finding freedom through death and resurrection to these things, when I hear Christians talking about living by the “basic principles and precepts of Scripture.”  This is a phrase that spells religion, and not the true, empowered-by-the-Spirit Christ-life we’re to live as believers. 

When we step through the cross with Jesus, dying to ourselves, our own religious thoughts and ideas, we die to all things in us, the “good” and the “bad”.  We are born again, not by the letter of the law, but by the power of the Spirit in us.  We don’t replace our “bad” rules with “good” rules.  We replace all rules and regulations with Christ. 

Paul tells us in as quoted above, that our lives are not here on earth anymore.  We no longer live, but Christ lives in us.

“I have been crucified with Christ,
and I no longer live,
but Christ lives in me.”
Gal. 2:20

That’s why Paul tells us here in Colossians to set our hearts on things above, where our life is hidden.  That doesn’t mean to long for heaven when we eventually physically die.  This means to have our hearts and minds with Christ now, in heavenly places, where our life actually dwells.  We no longer live, but Christ lives in us.  He is in us to give us the power to die, so that His life takes over in us more and more.

The old man, that creature of sin and rules, that creature of religious filters and habits, that self-focused man or woman, is to die.  We are to put it to death each day, and that is our daily cross.  We can’t do it, but the Spirit of Jesus in us will do it as we yield to Him.  It is Christ’s work in us, not our own work for Christ.

We now put off the old man and put on Christ.  He clothes us with Himself, His love, His power, His grace and mercy, His purity.  We have stepped into heaven already.  And we live here, on this earth—through the gritty darkness of a world temporarily held by the dark prince, the enemy of God—by Christ’s power alone.

If we are religious Christians, striving and worrying through our own efforts to live a “Christian life”, hoping that someday it’s all worth it and we’ll be in heaven when we die, we’ve missed the point of God’s plan.

Once we step through the narrow gate, dead and buried to our old life, called out from the tomb by the voice of Jesus like Lazarus, we no longer live, but Christ lives in us.  We are citizens, not of whatever earthly nation we inhabit, but of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven as Christ Jesus called it so often.  Now:

“Here (in this heavenly kingdom)
there is no Greek or Jew,
circumcised or uncircumcised,
barbarian, Scythian, slave or free,
but Christ is all, and in all.”
Col. 3:11

Brothers, today, let’s throw off the heavy mantle of Christianity and dead rules we’ve learned.  Let’s go unencumbered with old religious thoughts and ways, shedding them as we go with Christ, letting Him do the work in us, letting Him be the power in our hearts and minds, letting the old man go. 

When a baby is born, is he fully clothed?  When we are truly born again, we must rise from the resurrection naked as we were on that day.  This understanding is at the core of what it means to follow Christ, and be a disciple.

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