What storyline are we a part of?
This Lent, I have benefited significantly from the writings and teachings of others. One of the things that has become so evident in this season is that believers in Christ are living a Heavenly life “today.” So often we think only about Christ’s atonement on the cross and that His death was solely to overcome death. But sometimes what is missed is that our eternal life does not begin when we pass away from our earthly realm. Rather, when we come to Christ in faith, we can experience life in communion with Him from the moment we make the decision.
I recently got to watch of videocast of Joni Eareckson Tada, who framed “suffering” as being in God’s will. Within her being paralyzed due to a swimming accident, she did not look for the Enemy to be a part of the root cause of why she was now disabled. Instead, she recognized that we serve a God that allows us to experience His will in the here and now. In living into God’s will today, she has achieved a peace and fullness in life that could have been ignored otherwise.
I have had a chance to read Dallas Willard’s “Divine Conspiracy.” In it, he writes, how we should learn to live within God’s will today to experience a life that is increasingly Heavenly. He says, “How life-giving it would be if (Christian’s) understanding of the Gospel allowed them simply to reply, “I will do them! I will find out how. I will devote my life to it! This is the best life strategy I ever heard of!” and then go off to their fellowship and its teachers, and into their daily life, to learn how to live in His Kingdom as Jesus indicated was best.”
So I began to ask myself what storyline am I living in? Am I taking part in spiritual disciplines yet largely going through the motions; waiting for death to come so I can experience Christ fully? Or am I recognizing the storyline that began with Genesis and ends with Christ’s return, in which I am able to live into a calling on my life in experiencing a “heavenly” relationship with Christ now?
This is what we teach in much of our curriculum at Lifeline Global. We share with them that their best life, in Christ, is still ahead of them. Circumstances might keep them confined to lockdown, yet their heart, their mind, their spirit, and their effort, can rejoice in the freedom they have in Jesus and they can live a “heavenly” life with Him despite their surroundings. Men and women with this outlook are able to recognize the manifestation in their own lives and seek to make “heavenly” changes to those within their sphere of influence.
I like the words that Canon Phil Ashey used in a recent post about how we as followers of Christ are supposed to live in this earthly world while being citizens of a heavenly world. He quotes 2 Corinthians 4:5-6 when he says we are to “live with new eyes” (ones that are focused on the eternal). We are to live with a new purpose. We are to live with a new purpose in suffering and we are to live in the confidence of God’s power.
This Lent, the story I live into is the story of a Heavenly Savior experienced in the present. Praise God, I have thousands of incarcerated Brothers and Sisters in Christ who are characters in this story as well. They have no ability to change what happened yesterday, and they are not going to sit and wait for the Redeemer to come tomorrow. Rather, in their Kingdom adoption, they are inspired to live in the heavenly Kingdom today.
-Dr. Romney Ruder