Life + Christ = Fine
"Good morning! How are you?"
The man I was greeting sat at the end of the pew, dressed in his Sunday suit. It seemed to me that he was used to being in that location each Sunday morning. I was speaking in the service that morning, presenting an update on the Lord's work in Ethiopia. (Yes, in the midst of Stage IV cancer treatments, the work of the Lord Jesus continues!) And before the service started, I was going around visiting with folk.
A blank star met my question. "Oh, no!" I thought. "This poor man has dementia. He doesn't understand my question."
However, before my sorrow over him blossomed, he responded. "I don't know how I am. I don't think about it. If I think about it, I get discouraged."
Immediately my sorrow over him reached a new depth. This man was not lacking cognitive function; he was lacking Jesus! "Oh, let me tell you about Jesus! He makes all the difference in the world."
And there in the midst of that old church I told him what I want to tell you, dear friend.
There are difficulties in Life. There always will be. Some are mere inconveniences; some take your breath away. Some last a short time, and some stay until our last breath.
If we define our status according to the presence or absence of Difficulty, we cut ourselves short. And we show that we don't understand the Scriptures.
The Scriptures say that we have died with Christ....and we have risen with Him...and now we live in Him. What does this mean?
My grandfather began some in-depth research into our family history about 100 years ago. I still have his hand-written notes. As we learned our history, our hearts celebrated when we discovered another judge, or railroad president, or preacher.....and our hearts sank when we discovered some ancestor who robbed a bank, or ran off with the preacher's daughter, or shot someone down in the street.
Why were we so affected by the information about the ancestor? Because we were in that person when he or she did what they did! This was not mere information, as we'd read in a history book. This was our family history! These people were our own flesh and blood. We rejoiced over their victories and we agonized over their defeats. In a sense we were there with them as they walked through Life!
In much the same way, those of us who belong to the Family of Faith were with Jesus when He lived. As He fought against temptation, as He dealt with people in teaching and healing, as He wrestled in the Garden, we were "with Him."
And when He climbed that hill, when His clothes were stripped from Him and the nails entered His flesh, and He was raised high above the people....we were there! We died with Him!
And then He was buried; held in that cold, sterile tomb. Three days we were buried with Him!
But then He arose....up, up, up from the grave! That moment of great victory was ours, too! As His descendent in faith, we were with him in that resurrection...we rose with Him!
And now, in this generation, we live His life of resurrection. We live in Him!! Our life is intricately entwined, so much so that we are "lost" in who He is. It's not us living any more, but somehow He is living in and through us. Yes, we have our personality, our strengths and weaknesses, our issues....but they are overshadowed, evened out, patched up, "refinished" by who He is, so that we really can say "Christ lives in me, and the life I now live in this body, I live by the faith of Him who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal 2:20).
So, we come back to our question. "How are you?" In answering that question, we can answer according to Life without Christ, or Life with Christ.
Without Christ, the answer will be based solely upon our circumstances. With Christ, the answer is always "I'm fine!" Because....
Life + Christ = Fine
....every time, all the time!
It's not a matter of sweeping things under the rug. Nor of playing some sort of mind game where we delude ourselves. Nor is it an issue of being "holier than thou," where we won't admit troubles.
No, it's a matter of saying, "Yes, I have trouble. But I and my trouble are wrapped up in the One who rose from the dead. I died with Him; I rose with Him; and today I live in Him. And somehow, who He is neutralizes, overshadows, covers all the pain and distress of my trouble. Because of Him, I really am fine!"
Now, dear one, let me caution you. This message of truly being fine in all circumstances is not for everyone. Christ died and rose again for everyone, but not everyone is descended from Him. Only those who have by faith embraced Him as Savior and are obeying Him as Lord are in His family. Only these ones can live above their circumstances, and always be fine.
So if you are struggling with this issue, if you are rocked by the waves of the Storm, if you are dying of loneliness in the struggle of Life.....first come to Him as your Savior, first commit to follow Him in obedience, living Life according to His instructions....and then you will know the wonderful truth that as His 'child', you died with Him, you rose with Him, and now you live in Him.
And because of that simple truth, you are always fine!
February 24, 2012