Yesterday, an epiphany moment.
Today, I'm still wrestling.
Yesterday I did a radio show with Castle Rock Radio under the Korcast network, and talked most of the show about how we can live the verse in Philippians when Paul says, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." ( Phil. 1:21) We had an incredible chat session going on USTREAM (by the way if you'd like to join the show we go live at 4:00CST right here at http://www.andybraner.com)
In any event, the idea came to me after the show was over.
What if we can't?
What if we can't live a model like Paul suggests?
What if we can't try hard enough to posture our lives in a way where everything we do models the behavior and commandments of Jesus?
And this morning, I drove to work with John Piper. (podcast that is)
He was doing a message on race and our response to different racial issues. He told the congregation how the love we have for different races must come from the core of our understanding that God created them. He went on to articulate the power of sin to overthrow our perception of people, and our giving into our sinful nature propagates this racial issue when we look at other people.
As I sat listening, He said, "YOU CAN DO NOTHING!"
And I stopped the iPod.
YOU CAN DO NOTHING to live as Christ. Sure we all have choices to do right things or wrong things, but if we truly are looking for a place where the "knife is up" so to speak; we must go through the tests and trials of life to know God's Grace. His forgiveness is available to all, but it isn't until we've come to a place of reconciliation between God's forgiveness and our sin that we are even close to a working understanding of 'living as Christ.'
On the radio yesterday we talked about struggle. And it's in the power of the struggle, the eye of the storm, the heat of the fire, where we are made in the image of God. As I think about the characters in the Bible, it's almost as if it's a requirement. Think with me,
Noah and the flood.
Abraham and Isaac.
David and the kingship.
Shadrach Meshach and Abendego in the fire.
Samson and the Philistines.
Peter and his denial.
Paul and the thorn in the flesh.
And Jesus as He walks to the cross. (ok, that one's a little different.) But the point I think is valid.
Nobody had it easy.
Nobody said a prayer and all of the sudden everything was right.
Nobody was blessed beyond belief without some sort of life struggle.
So maybe the secret to living as Christ happens as we endure. Not an endurance provided by our own training, but an endurance that recognizes all is loss without the saving power of Jesus. Maybe it's God's way, mainly the idea that struggles lead to intimacy.
It's certainly proficient in developing human relationships right?
Think 9-11, the whole city of New York loved each other for a time. All because of tragedy.
Think Katrina. The sin city of New Orleans reached out to help their neighbors.
Think Haiti. The world rushed to the aid of a powerless country in the midst of hundreds of thousands of dead bodies.
We come together when it counts.
When we need each other, it glues some part of the human condition together.
So today, I guess what I'm trying to say…
To live as Christ is available when you come to the end of yourself. When you resign the pride, the sin, the muck, and the mire away, and you find the beautiful story of God's love through the death of His son. That's when the reality of "To live is Christ" comes into play.
I rejoice in my suffering, for there I find Christ.
I smile now, knowing God is holding on to me.
It doesn't make it easier.
It doesn't feel any better.
But I know today, FOR ME TO LIVE IS CHRIST, AND TO DIE IS GAIN!!
To Him be All Glory