Have you read our first posts this month yet? You simply must! Tracy shared two beautiful posts, an introduction and her own response, to help our readers think about the question: how does God’s resurrection power change the way you live? Don’t forget to look for Kim’s post next week!
Of all the questions we’ve explored, this one has been the most challenging and exciting for me. You see, I (Jennifer) had a neatly-ordered worldview and a simple paradigm—or so I thought. Then what I knew shifted slightly and kind of went “Kerplunk!” into a new place. I’m making what feels like a feeble attempt at sharing what I’ve been learning. And in “Jen fashion,” I’ll ask you to walk this curvy road with me and check out the scenery along the way.
The shift began when I heard a song on the radio. You may know Jeremy Camp’s Same Power. I struggled with the chorus for a while, and I wasn’t exactly sure why:
The same power that rose Jesus from the grave
The same power that commands the dead to wake
Lives in us, lives in us
The same power that moves mountains when He speaks
The same power that can calm a raging sea
Lives in us, lives in us
He lives in us, lives in us ¹
My first question was “Where did that lyric come from anyway?” Then I suppose I thought a life filled with that kind of power was reserved for the Disciples, Apostles, and super-Christians. After all, I had never moved a mountain, calmed a sea, or been part of any other radical, miraculous thing with a word. Maybe I assumed my life story disqualified me from witnessing God doing those things or being used by him in that way. If I get honest, I probably thought the Creator of the universe was far removed from creation or just didn’t do those kinds of things anymore. At a certain level I wondered about the strength of my faith, the way I lived it, and the real identity and character of God. Have you been there? (Some call this mindset “practical atheism.”)
I was a little “off base” in my thinking. I’ll tell you about that, but it’s a bit of a long story. Can you bear with me?
What I Knew
A day came when I realized a righteous, holy God’s mere presence would overwhelm and annihilate imperfection. Who is full of imperfection? Me! I, like many, made a decision to pray to Jesus and ask for his sacrifice on the cross to be applied to my life. Jesus, of course, would certainly say yes to that!
Then a group study of the book of Romans wrecked me—in a good way!
What I Learned
There’s something emotional in realizing there are only two kinds of people on the planet. It’s hard to accept that there are black-and-white things when we prefer choice, flexibility, and comfortable shades of gray. But if the Bible is true, there are people who do not yet identify with God and Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection and those who do. That’s it. For Christians, this probably doesn’t sound revolutionary, but let’s be clear about one thing: identifying with is not just knowing about.
It happened when a Bible study group asked a simple question: What is it that separates these two groups of people in the world? I thought I knew what placed someone in the family of God: if you could point to a date on the calendar when you prayed “the prayer,” you were “in.”
My paradigm rattled when we studied the life of Abraham in Romans, Hebrews, and Genesis. Wonderful books, teaching, and discussion filled in some gaps. Did you know Abraham never prayed the prayer of salvation? Intuitively I knew that, but I never paused to think more about the fact that he “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3). That’s the source of the resurrection power! Do you see it?
Let me translate this for our day—God said, “I will make a way for you to come to Me.” Jesus was that way on the cross. His perfectly sinless life as a man and the Son of God paid for every sin. But he is more powerful than death. Sin and death has no claim to a perfect, sinless God-man. And so the Son of God can and does rise in unstoppable power, leaving an empty tomb!
So what do you say to that? It’s simple. God says, “I will.” The response is, “I believe.” Nothing more can be added to that. Our best behavior doesn’t change this moment, and our worst doesn’t either. We don’t clean up our act in order to look more attractive to a Holy God. We can’t do it. Remember: we are sin until we believe. We believe, and we identify with Jesus’ resurrection. Friend, there’s a reason the Early Church was full of “believers” and called “The Way.” And here we are—at the only way.
This is where my “Kerplunk!” happened. The gospel was flexible, in my mind. There were people on a spectrum (even me). I was on my way to a “closer relationship” with God, and so was everyone around me. There’s nothing dangerous about a spectrum, right? But, there are those who have Jesus advocating for them and those who do not yet have that. (Now I’ll begin to cry.)
8 “Those whose lives are in the flesh are unable to please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you.” (Romans 8:8-9).
I don’t know which group you’re in. Maybe you don’t either. I don’t know about you, but I had to wrestle with this at one point. Have you? How will our lives be different when we are one of God’s people? Where is that resurrection power, you ask?
10 Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you. Romans 8:10-11
What does that mean for me (and you) for the rest of our lives here and in eternity (where all of us will be one day)? Our choice to believe provides a resurrection-powered life here and forever!
Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over these Revelation 20:6 CSB
Blessed and holy—one of God’s people. And for that reason—
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection Philippians 3:10a NIV
I want everyone else to know it. So many people will remain outside the church, not part of God’s people—and that’s a whole other life now and eternity waiting. I don’t want that for anyone!
And how will that be done? Noticing people, hearing their stories, and then speaking truthfully and lovingly (something I’m asking God to help me with!).
Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
Friend, I can’t thank you enough for hanging with me. You’re precious if you’re still reading! I just wrote down all the words—and there were still more. Thank you for being gracious. I think you’ve just read an indication of the change in my life just now. The display of the power will have to wait for another post. *grin*
Consider starting a conversation here or at our Facebook Page. This is a conversation worth having. What are you thinking right now?