“Good News For All The People”—Daily Reflections for Advent 2016
THE NINETEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, December 15th
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
Christmas is such a wonderfully lovely and moving time of the year. It’s a time when people think about Jesus and how His life is a life to be imitated. I choke up when I read James Allan Francis’ “One Solitary Life”, and think that Jesus is a life worth imitating. Yet, in today’s Scripture the apostle Paul writes about something more marvelous than trying to imitate Christ’s life: to participate in His life.
Paul sets forth the almost unbelievable, infinitely incomprehensible good news that the God who is love longed to enter into deep personal oneness with us. At a certain point in time and space the Creator became a creature, born in a manger in Bethlehem. By means of His incarnation, God took on our humanity and became the representative of all humanity. All that Christ did, He did in our place for all of us. When He was crucified, we were crucified with Him. When Christ was raised from the dead, we too were raised to new life with Him. The heart of God’s good news is: In Jesus’ life, death and resurrection something was happening to you and me.
I heard a story about a man who was visiting Jerusalem and was taken to the supposed placed of Jesus’ crucifixion. Overwhelmed with emotion the man began to weep. His guide asked him: “Have you been here before?” “Oh yes,” the man replied. “I was here 2,000 years ago!” That man knew that Christ included us in His life, death and resurrection. His story is made our story. We are personally incorporated into the life of Christ without losing our identity.
Paul is writing to people who are obviously alive, and yet he says they have died. In what sense then can he say that they have died with Christ? Is this mere metaphor or a sweet sentiment for a Sunday morning? When Paul says that they have died, he is saying they have died to all the wrong they have ever done. It is crucified with Christ. All the guilt and the shame are gone.
When Paul says they have been “raised with Christ”, he is saying they have been raised with Christ to a new dimension of living. They are raised “where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” There with Christ they sit at the place of highest honor and authority in heaven and earth. At God’s right hand, God delights in them as He delights in His own Son (John 17:26).
I have a friend who wears a T-shirt stating, “IT’S NOT ABOUT ME — IT’S ABOUT HIM”. His shirt helps remind me of God’s good news: Christ is our life! We “have been raised with Christ” in the past. Our lives are “hidden with Christ in God” in the present. And when Christ returns, we “also will be revealed with him in glory” in the future. How richly satisfying, how freeing it can be to live knowing that it’s not about us, but about Him.
When I say that I am a Christian, I am not so much saying that I behave in a certain way or live a certain kind of life. Rather, when I say that I am a Christian I am saying that I believe God has made me one with Christ. I have been crucified with Christ and raised to new life in Him. So, it’s never about me. It’s all about Him! Rather than trying to imitate the life of Christ, I get to participate in His very life! I can say with the apostle Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:19-20). Good news! It’s all about Him!
- What does it mean for you that you “have died with Christ”?
- What does it mean for you to be seated with Christ “at the right hand of God”?