20 Apr, 2011 Go! (1 Corinthians 5:11 to 6:12)
General William Booth said these words.
“What is your duty here? Oh that you realized your true business in this region of death! Having eyes, oh that you could see! Having ears, oh that you could hear! Having hearts, oh that you could feel! What are you going to do with this graveyard? Walk about it in heart-less unconcern, or with no higher feeling than gratitude for having been made alive yourselves! Or will you content yourselves with strolling through it, taxing its poor occupants for your living while leaving them quietly in their tombs as hopeless as you found them? Heaven forbid!
God has sent you into this dark valley for nothing less than to raise these doom-struck creatures from the dead. That is your mission… Go and do it again. Go and look at them. Go and compassionate them. Go and represent Jesus Christ to them. Go and prophesy to them. Go and believe for them. And then shall bone come to bone, and there shall be a great noise, and a great army shall stand up to live and fight and die for the living God.”
William Booth as quoted in “William and Catherine–the life and legacy of the Booths.” By Trevor Yaxleys with Carol Vanderwall
In my Bible reading today (reference above) the Apostle Paul speaks from the same perspective of reality as General Booth does above. General Booth encouraged us to see this world as it really is from the Bible’s perspectve when the ‘veil of the flesh’ is removed – a region of death, and a graveyard. A dark valley of doom-struck creatures, living unaware of their condition and predicament.
This world, we are told in Scripture, will pass away. ‘First come death, and then the judgment.‘ The older I get the more I realise how short life is – not only have contemporaries died in vehicle accidents, some have even of cancer now – and I am but 37 years old.
Physical life is short, and is not secure. If we can see from God’s perspective this is indeed a graveyard – all who are as yet without Christ are separated from God by their sin. All that really counts is that we come to know Christ. Our lifetimes are but opportunities to discover that this life is not all there is – to recognise a problem exists (suffering and evil point toward it – its root manifestation in us each, when we have humility to accept it, is sin). Eternity is before us all, and our relationship to the eternal God does matter.
Enjoy my paraphrase of Paul’s words here
——————– 1 Corinthians 5 ————————
v13 We might seem crazy for this focus we have with our lives, but…
v14 …it is Christ’s love that compels us. Seeing as He sees, how can we live any other way than to be radically sold out to the cause of gospel proclamation.
We have become convinced His death was for all, and that life comes only through Him.
v16 Therefore we do not view people as they look in this physical world – but we consider their spiritual state.
We also do not consider Christ as we did before we believed (I, Paul, having given my life at that time to the destruction of His followers). We recognise He was – amazingly – exactly who He claimed to be. God come in flesh.
v17 Therefore, if anyone accepts Christ, their core identity is fundamentally changed – they are new creations – eternally re-created as children of God. This is the true reality!
v18 It is because of the mercy of God. It is the purpose of God. And, joining with God, it has become our purpose also!
v19 We are therefore no more on this planet than Christ’s ambassadors
v20 What happened, in summary, was that God made Him who had no sin (Jesus) to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become righteous.
6:1 So, what is your role in all of this? If you are a believer then you are God’s’ fellow workers too (just like us!), and we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. In other words, you have a purpose to live out. Do not lose sight of this:
v2 Now is the time for telling of God’s salvation – not tomorrow – not in a week, or month, or years time.
This is your calling, just as it is ours. Give yourself to it!
Paul then goes on in v3 to v11 to explain how he embraced any and all sufferings in living for this call, for it is truly God’s call upon us, and such an attitude to life is the only true and right response to God’s mercy, love, and specific calling to us to actually accept our role as ambassadors as our primary calling in life.
A challenge, from the Bible’s perspective
The world around us – as wonderful as it can be – often serves as a distraction from our truest call.
While we must live and survive in this world, it is temporary and passing.
As Christians, we are called to have our true values based in the the other world – heaven. We are called, therefore, to live and to love without limit in this world, seeing our rewards and comfort as being in a future time, rather than trying to take hold of our ‘rewards and comfort’ right now, for our own benefit now.
‘Delayed gratification’ is a recognised key to wealth and success. We sacrifice the use of money now so as to invest it and hopefully have more later. We sacrifice out pleasure now to work and study, hoping to reap the benefits of this later.
‘Delayed gratification’ is the world view that we Christians are called to live with for our entire lives!
Amongst all the necessities of life, we have a temporary mission – to make Christ known. It is only for the duration of this lifetime.
There are no second chances in this purpose. Each day can be lived only once. Each opportunity can come only once.
How true is our devotion to Christ? How sincere our faith?
The only right response:
We unshackle ourselves from the things of this world (i.e. heart attachments to things), and begin to restructure and reorient our lives toward living entirely for the things and purposes of God!