On Sunday we heard Jesus refer to his followers’ relationship with him as a participation in him, specifically a participation in his death. When we become followers of Christ, we truly receive him, and our identity is altered. The events that formed Jesus’ destiny—his death, resurrection, and ascension—must now inform the calculations and priorities for our own lives.
For example, the death that Jesus died, he died to sin. So (Paul says) we cannot live any longer in sin because, in baptism, we participate in that death. To “live in sin” sounds intentionally general, as if any act or atmosphere that smacks of sin must be left behind.
But I want to say something of Jesus’ resurrection life that we have shared in. The life that we now live, because of our baptism into Christ’s resurrection, we live toward God. Who we are cannot be made sense of apart from this union. So also what we do cannot be fathomed apart from this union in Christ. And this is what we do—we live toward God.
People of EBC, I highlight this for you: there is a beautiful consistency in more and more abandoning yourself to the mission of God. Your life is bound up with Christ, so in a sense there is no balance that needs be maintained. You don’t have to think in terms of a little spirituality, a little sport, a little work, a little gardening—all towards a trendy idea of holistic living! The broken body and spilt blood of Christ have set us free from fads and other lifestyles to an all-encompassing, focused service toward God.
You waste no time in growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ. There is no energy mis-spent in serving Christ’s body. For you, devotion isn’t superfluous, but in your make-up. Your endeavor to win more people to him, to enjoin others in entering into the benefits of the Gospel, is more than noble, but even appropriate!
I could elaborate on what this life toward God doesn’t necessarily entail: 1) vocational service 2) no space or freedom to cultivate and create ‘on our own’ 3) the end of mirth and start of woodenness.
I could dwell on some sad and pedestrian facts: Some dance around an engrossed commitment to God. Some pause in the shallows and only imagine what it is to navigate the deep. In the life toward God, the players are few; the sidelines are full.
There are further elaborations to be explored; there are reasons to not settle for anything less; but here is one big, evangelical reason to plunge into the life toward God: THIS IS WHAT YOU DO.