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Message from Duncan November 2018
The Apostle Paul wrote nearly all the letters in the New Testament of the Bible. He was the first, and perhaps greatest, to make sense of what Jesus did and work out what that means for those who continue to follow him. So, we should consider his words with care.
I find it interesting that, in what may be the earliest of his letters, written within 20 years of Christ’s death, he can already say how great Jesus is. Jesus wasn’t just a good man who died, but much more. In his first letter to the church at Thessalonica (what we now call 1st Thessalonians), Paul urges the Thessalonian Christians not to be scared about what will happen at the final day of judgement. He says,
‘Your fate has already been decided. You are destined for salvation, because Christ died for you.’
Christ died for us. But what is Paul saying? It obviously doesn’t mean we never physically die. That would be awkward. Paul is certainly aware that Jesus’ death does not prevent ours. People die. And sometimes people die in a heroic way. A woman once wrote of a friend of theirs who died under the wheels of a bus, saving the life of a child. She died that the child might live. So, does that mean her death had the same effect as the death of Jesus?
No. Paul sees something greater. He doesn’t write, ‘Christ died, in order that we might live.’ It that was it, then Jesus is no different to that woman’s friend. Instead, a few verses later, Paul writes,
‘Christ died, in order that we might live with him.’
There’s the difference. The life we live through Christ’s self-sacrifice comes not only from his dying, but from his living again. He has been raised from the dead, and we share that resurrection life. He lives in us.
That is why Christians talk so much about walking with Jesus, following him, living his way, being conformed to the image of Christ. It is because Jesus is alive, and we are called to share in that life. That doesn’t mean selfishly doing the same as we have always done. Instead it means letting Christ live through us, allowing his love, his grace, his compassion, his self-sacrifice, work through how we live our life now. It’s not just for after we die, but for now.
Okay, we Christians don’t always get it right. But, when we strive to say, ‘What does Jesus in me want to do in this situation?’ then, surely, this world would become a better place.
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