Previous posts in the Live Alive series can be found here.
On Sundays throughout 2018, I have been reading through The Heidelberg Catechism: A Study Guide, by G. I. Williamson. It is divided into 52 readings, one for each week of the year. Overall, I would recommend it, but there were some of the author's commentaries that I thought went more into diatribes than was necessary. Reading through a Catechism slowly has definitely been beneficial for adding new knowledge and energy to my faith. I would recommend doing so!
Yesterday's Catechism questions were about how Christ teaches us to address God as Father in the Lord's Prayer. The Catechism says Jesus did that to awaken in us, at the beginning of our prayer, that childlike reverence and trust toward God ... . This serves as just another reminder of how dependent we are on God. We come before Him in prayer and call Him Father, which reminds us how much we need Him and that He is in authority over us. Calling Him Father also reminds us that we are now members of His family and that He is the kind of Father all fathers long to be and that all children desire. He does not abuse His authority or neglect His children. We can come to him with childlike reverence and trust. Looking at Jesus enables us to do so without hesitation.
In the commentary, Williamson wrote something that struck me about how we can't reach God on our own, but Jesus is a sufficient mediator:
The reason is quite simple: Jesus is both God and man. Both the divine nature and the human nature are there in one person. Because in his human nature He is our brother, and in His divine nature is the only begotten Son of God, he can reach both God and man and bring them together. p. 213
I know Williamson was specifically speaking of salvation, but after some conversation in our Life Group last night, it got me thinking about how alive people connect with their new family.
When we are made new in Christ, brought back to life and called God's children, we are also adopted into a new family, the family of believers. Jesus is our brother and our Lord and as such we are bound now and eternally to anyone else who calls on His name. This can be super awesome, because we each have different gifts and abilities and can work together for the advancement of the Gospel in the world. This can also be super awful, because we all have different gifts and can become divided and lose sight of the mission to share the Gospel with the world!
Paul hits it all in Ephesians, guys! He talks about this very thing, reminding the Ephesian believers, and those of us who read the letter today, that we are united in Christ and are headed somewhere with/in/through Him!
Alive people interact with their family in some specific ways:
- They keep the first thing the first thing! Alive people fight to be unified with their family, remembering that we are all one under Christ. Alive people also remember that we have not attained "mature manhood" yet as a body, so they are patient with the process living in a manner worthy of the calling, like Paul says in the first few verses.
- They know what their gifts are and use them to serve the family! We are all different. There is incredible diversity in the body! Alive people know God has given them specific gifts to use to serve the family (the body or Church) to help maintain unity and to help the body grow. They rejoice in how God has made them and pursue opportunities to serve with them. They know the Church needs them to use their gifts - it's God's call on their lives!
- They help their brothers and sisters to discover their gifts and use them! Alive people don't waste their time in jealous pride, they know that they desperately need the rest of their family. So they encourage other believers to know and exercise their God-given gifts, so they can delight in watching the Lord use them for His purposes.
Cynicism is easy. We all know how hard it is to be unified with people who are different from us. We still live this side of heaven and our sinful natures are still demanding dominance in our hearts. We won't see the body perfected till Christ returns. But alive people are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Hebrews 10:39
Living alive denies cynicism a seat at the table, leaving the space for hope. Christ calls us to be unified; we will fight for that. Christ calls us to use our gifts; we will use them. Christ calls us to encourage our brothers and sisters to use their gifts; we will encourage and enjoy them.
We are family because God made it so. Alive in Christ, we can have faith, press on, and rejoice together at what God does.
Not shrinking back,