Living the Life: Daily Reflections on The Upper Room Discourse
for Lent 2018
Loving Father, may I have the power to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:18-19).
“In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me;
because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that
I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”
“Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!” I thrill to think that all around the world Christians are joyously celebrating the crucified Christ’s triumph. In countless languages and dialects they exult: “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!”
But there was a time in my life when the joy of this day was much like the joy of commercial Christmas: here today and gone tomorrow. Come the next day and it was back to life as usual. It was as though the news that Christ had risen changed nothing for me. I had allowed a God-gap to come between God’s wonders in the past and the wonders He would work in the future. I went about life and made decisions as if the risen Christ did not live in me today. I lived as though God had left me to myself to figure out what He wanted me to do.
I was much like Parker Palmer’s “Functional Atheist” in thinking “if anything decent is going to happen here, we are the ones who must make it happen — a conviction held even by people who talk a good game about God.” (Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak) I did talk and preach a good game about the living Christ, but functionally I lived as though everything depended on me.
Then one day I pondered Jesus’ amazing words in today’s scripture, “because I live, you also will live.” I love how The Message translates it: “because I am alive and you’re about to come alive.” I thought about Jesus’ words and it was like a light went on for me. I saw that Jesus is promising more than to raise us up to life on the last day! He is talking about our coming to life in Him today! And we can come to life, new life, because it is as Jesus says, “I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
The apostle Paul revels in the good news of our new life with the risen Christ: “…even when we were dead through our trespasses [God] raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6). We pray for the indwelling Holy Spirit to teach us more about living the life Jesus gives us now! This is the “abundant life” (John 10:10) that Jesus said He came to give us. It is “eternal life”, zoe aionios, “the life of the age to come.” Jesus didn’t come just to take us to heaven, but to get heaven into us today!
Just look at the life Jesus promises us in the Upper Room! It is being loved by the Father even as He loves His only Son, Jesus. It is being given authority in prayer as we stand before the Father and pray in Jesus’ name. It is abiding in Jesus as He lives out His life in us. It is living in a peace that the world knows nothing about, and can never take away. Jesus has conquered the world! “Because I live”, Jesus promises, “you also will live.” We too can come alive with Him on this Easter Sunday!
English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins had sunk to a dark place in his life. He had not written any poetry for seven years. Then, on the morning of December 8, 1875, he read in the newspaper about the SS Deutschland, a steamship sailing from Bremerhaven to New York that had run aground in a blizzard near Kent. Hopkins read about the cries and sobbing of women and children as more than fifty passengers and crew were drowned.
Hopkins told others that he wished someone would write a poem about the tragedy. It was then that he again took up his pen to write the poem considered to be his masterpiece, “The Wreck of the Deutschland”. In the poem Hopkins prays for the life and love of the risen Christ to flow into his life and the lives of others. He asks God: “Let him [Christ] easter in us.” He asks for Easter, not as a day or a noun, but a verb, an act of the resurrected Christ to come alive every day in His people.
Oh Lord, we want to experience Your life today! We long to live the life! Easter in us! Amen and Amen!
- Have I thought of Christ’s resurrection as just an historical event or as God’s life abiding in me today?
O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may I know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, and follow Thee more nearly, day by day.
Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)
Previous Lent Devotional 2018 Entries
Dr. Timothy Smith
Water from Rock Ministries, Founder and Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Timothy Smith, has dedicated much of his life to helping people grow in intimacy with God and experiencing spiritual renewal. During his 35 years of ministering to people from various backgrounds as an ordained minister, chaplain (hospital, hospice, and prison) spiritual director, adjunct seminary professor, and retreat leader, Tim has experienced firsthand the renewing power of Jesus Christ. And his many experiences of renewal have taught him the need for connecting an intelligent biblical faith to a warm, heart-felt devotion to God. We must be people of head and heart, together.
Thus, in his teaching and ministry, Tim focuses on laying a biblical foundation for faith, along with training in the spiritual practices that Christ and his Church have pursued. In seeking renewal for our day, Tim draws upon the disciplines and vitality that shape the various streams of Christian devotion and welcomes all who seek to know God better.
Tim’s daily prayer for the Spirit’s renewing power is taken from the Apostle Paul:
I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
— Ephesians 3:16-19