The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 10: 10

 

There might have been another way for the Creator to become reconciled with the creation. Yet, God chose to do it in the way that He did by descending out of the eternal and engaging personally and directly with our lives here on earth. In so doing, Jesus brought a renewed definition of what it means to be alive into humanity’s vocabulary. In Christ, we are alive in the fullest sense of that concept, and with all of the implications that being vital, functional, and valuable carry along with them. The blood coursing through our veins has a revived force and power within it that has nothing to do with a literal cardio strength or conditioning and is compelled by the state of our souls and the renewal of our minds by Christ. In this new life, we travel through our days in the power of the Holy Spirit and by the guidance of God’s eternal wisdom.

 

This places God’s people in direct opposition to the rest of this world, which is owned by those forces that are committed fully to the forces of evil that bring about the theft of life, the death of spirit and of body, and the destruction of all that is holy, good, and loving in our world. That idea of ownership by evil may sound harsh and too absolute, but according to Jesus, that is the way that it is here in creation. There are certainly a wide range of degrees of involvement in living out and promotion of the destructiveness that Satan, himself, is determined to bring about. Many people do good things and live kindly, caring lives. However, all people are faced with a choice of only two ultimate masters who will rule over our lives and who will determine the eternal outcome of our time beyond this world. We either choose to follow Christ into relationship with God, or we determine to exist now and forevermore apart from Him.

 

It is in this decision point for us that God’s determination to bring about reconciliation to Himself by the blood of Jesus and through the process of dwelling intimately and personally with His people in life on this earth holds its greatest impact upon that new existence in Christ. For Jesus demonstrated for us what it means to belong to the renewed kingdom of God come out of heaven in order to reclaim creation from the works of destruction that have enveloped it. In this new life, we join with Christ in loving others and in pouring out His redemptive grace into the profound chaos that has been created by the work of that great thief that Jesus is describing. Christ restores His people to the abundance of God’s intent for our lives. He gives us back the peace, the deep joy, and the confidence that have been robbed out of our souls, and our Lord sends us into this world to live out this renewal of heart and of mind in a manner that brings the abundance of Christ into direct contact with a world that is oppressed under the destitution that has been caused by Satan’s rule.

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Hebrews 10: 12-14

 

This may be shocking news to some of you, but you can stop striving so hard. In Christ, the work is done, completed, finished. We can just sit back and wait for our reward in heaven. Well, no! Yet, the hard work of gaining God’s favor has been taken on and perfectly completed by Jesus. His was a labor unto death, and that death granted life to each and every person who would agree with God and relinquish this world for the sake of that new life in Christ. In this new life, we are free to rest in the security of our status before God, and thus we are set free from the requirement to perform for the sake of our daily and our eternal position in God’s eyes.

 

The rest that we enter into because of Christ’s work on our behalf is a very active form of rest. It is modeled after a totally engaged and involved Christ as He may be resting from the work of sacrifice, but He is not on sabbatical from the work of bringing about transformative change in the lives of His people. Christ continues to speak love, grace, truth, and righteousness into this world. He does this through the Word of God and by means of His Spirit. Christ’s sacrifice has granted to everyone who believes in Him an immutable place of dwelling in the presence of God, and in this relational and positional security we should be able to find the sort of restful peace that leads to ultimate freedom.

 

Thus, as free women and men, we can enter into the chaos and the hardship of our world with a form of joy in our hearts that is produced by Christ and is made tangible to us by the encouragement of His Spirit. As we join with Christ in engagement with the lost and the broken people and aspects of our world, we are His agents who do work toward the Lord’s victory over His enemies. Thus, as people come to know God through relationship with Christ, they are no longer His enemies but rather are adopted as beloved children. As evil is confronted with love and mercy, sin-fractured elements of creation are redeemed. So, through obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our freedom is used for the sake of God’s glory and to grow us up into full maturity in Christ.