Jesus' Resurrection Changes Everything.
His resurrection is not merely restricted to a blessed assurance of eternal life for every proclaiming Christian; rather, the resurrection means life now! As ambassadors of Christ, we have access to the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead. We have a high calling to bring heaven to earth, whether it be through our relationships, our lifestyles, or our responses to injustice.
In Philemon, we see how the Gospel has practical implications for real life situations. Because of Jesus, relationships are restored. Because of Jesus, forgiveness and reconciliation come. King Jesus has the victory forever and ever amen!
The Rightful King.
Sometimes we like to pick and choose what we allow Jesus to be King over in our own lives: His way when I want it, but my way when I don't. Where in your life do you need to surrender the throne to the rightful King? How can you step out in faith, trusting that the Lord's way is always better than your own?
We can be so quick to serve the Lord, but before we experience fruit from an outward response to the Gospel, there needs to be fruit from an inward response. Without this inward response, our efforts will essentially be fruitless. Jesus shared a word of caution with those who would listen:
What is our heart’s response to the Lord?
Do we want more of God, or simply more of His favor and good gifts? Where lies the delight of our hearts? Brother and sisters, let your roots sink deep into the Lord. Be still and know Him as God.
Delight in His presence, just as He delights over you! This is first and foremost what you were created for: to be in an intimate relationship with your Creator and to know and experience a love which surpasses all understanding.
We need to first know God if we want to know how to serve Him. In knowing God, He will reveal to us His will and how to do it His way. My own efforts will not produce lasting treasure because I am working out of my own strength and doing what looks right through my tainted vision. I want to be yielded to the Spirit, motivated by the Spirit, and moved by the Spirit. When we know Christ, we then experience the mighty power of His resurrection.
Bringing Heaven to Earth.
The book of Philemon shows us that in Jesus we have been given a calling to bring heaven to earth as we pursue justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him. His spirit leads us to see and respond to the places (even within our own communities) where heaven is not realized. How do we as Christians respond to the injustice, the hurt, and the heartache that pains our world? Racism. Abortion. Human trafficking. Persecution. What can we do?
- Listen. Listen with compassionate ears and be slow to speak when listening. Ask good questions and ask God to bring solutions.
- Partner. Come beside people in their passions to help them move forward with determination. Be an encourager and find ways to purposefully be in their corner.
- Love well. Love is a foundation for change and a foundation for healing.
- Ask God for a passion for heaven to come through your life. Your passions are relevant. What injustices ignite a righteous anger deep within your spirit? God has a plan and a purpose to use them. When you pursue your passions you are stepping into the calling the Lord has over your life. Rejoice! The Lord has given you His heart for certain issue(s) because He wants to bring redemption through your hands and feet!
- Guard yourself from becoming critical. People will not always be as passionate as you in addressing the injustices God has placed on your heart. Be patient with them and know that God carries every burden He has placed in your heart. Do not grow weary, but rejoice that God has allowed you to feel what He feels. Press into Him in prayer as you long for heaven to come into that specific area.
I would like to leave you with a challenge to respond to your calling to pursue justice. This week, listen and partner with someone experiencing injustice. Have an intentional conversation with them where you ask them about their story. Follow-up by asking how you can love them well and walk alongside them in that area. The resurrection changes everything, so let's step out in believing that!