Christ, Our Fellowship, Part 10

December 26, 2015 at 7:53 AM 1 comment

Can we truly appreciate the agony Jesus experienced here?

Can we truly appreciate the agony Jesus experienced here? I can’t…

Since I began the series on Christ, Our Righteousness, which has been followed by this series, Christ, Our Fellowship, I’ve highlighted what I believe are several things that are “musts” for every Christian. We must understand our new standing in Christ because of our salvation. We have gone from unrighteous to righteous based on what Jesus has achieved for us, for those who place their faith in Him. We need to also comprehend that a new legal standing is potentially available to everyone, made fully possible by the vicarious atonement of Jesus, yet remains to be embraced by all. Everyone who does embrace His salvation sees their legal standing before God permanently change. There is no going back. Just as there is nothing we can do to make ourselves righteous before God (we simply believe in what Jesus has accomplished for us), there is nothing we can do to reverse that standing once it is applied to our account through faith.

Another thing we have highlighted in this series of articles is that while our new righteous standing before God is automatic once the requisite faith is exercised in Jesus and His atoning work on our behalf, our fellowship with God is not automatic. It requires effort on our part and it is this area that suffers due to many reasons, all of which are clearly our fault.

I have tried to enumerate ways in which we can fellowship with God throughout this series. It needs to be stated that I do not live this perfectly anymore than those reading this do. It is the problem of our fallen nature that keeps us from doing so. What I have endeavored to put forth are things that keep us from constant fellowship with God and the ways in which we can work to achieve and maintain that fellowship. It is important to understand that God is always faithful and we are the ones who fall short.

It is no different from anything else. Learning to play the piano takes time and effort. While a person might come to understand how a piano is played and which piano keys are designated which notes, it takes time – often years – to become well-versed at the part we call muscle memory where hands and fingers simply do what they’ve practiced for years in what appears to be an effortless fashion. Unless a person is a prodigy, playing the piano (or any instrument) comes only with consistent effort over a great deal of time.

So please understand that often, we can gain head knowledge about something clearly delineated in Scripture and in spite of that knowledge, we will continue to fail to live it out perfectly. That is me to a “t,” and it is different for each person. I will say that writing these two series has helped me come to greater awareness and understanding regarding the facts surrounding the righteousness that I now have because of Jesus. This seems to be firmly cemented within me and I understand better than I have before that my righteousness is not a righteousness of my own making (impossible for me to accomplish), but a righteousness that comes from Jesus’ redemptive work on my behalf and my faith in His work. I also have a greater awareness of the path of growth to become more consistent in my fellowship with God, something that I will be working on until the day He calls me home.

But after all is said and done, how is it that we grow to a more consistent level of fellowship with God? As I noted in my last article in this series, we do so by learning to “live in the moment.” We are constantly beset by the temptation to either live in the past (either glories or regrets), long for the future, or a combination of both. In all cases, there is one constant that keeps us dwelling on the past or the future and when that happens, we miss the present awareness of what God is doing in the now. What is that one thing that pulls us away in every case? It is a misdirected longing.

If we look at one very good example of how Jesus went through the process of being “in the moment,” we can look no further than the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26; Luke 22). What better example could there be of seeing how Jesus Himself dealt with emotional torment and the temptation to do things His way, instead of the Father’s?

37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matthew 26:37-38)

I’m certain I do not fully comprehend the torment that Jesus experienced at that moment. All I know is that I read the words and I see “overwhelmed,” “sorrow,” “death,” and while I certainly understand what those words mean, somehow it seems also reasonable to understand that Jesus did not mean these words as a form of hyperbole. He truly was overwhelmed, filled with abject sorrow, and it was to the point of death. I don’t know how that felt for Jesus, but I do know there have been many times in my life when I have felt tremendous sorrow. Was it the same level or degree of sorrow experienced by Jesus here in Matthew 26? I seriously doubt it, but it was certainly overwhelming enough for me. I recall it had the same effect on me that Jesus’ sorrow had on Him. I threw myself on the Father’s mercy. There was nothing else to do; no other option really.

This episode in Gethsemane represented a very real battle for Jesus. Overwhelmed, filled with sorrow that literally overwhelmed Him.

The “soul” here (Gr. psyche) represents the whole person. Jesus meant that He felt sorrowful, painful grief (agony affecting His mind, will, emotions, and body) so deeply that He felt that it would almost kill Him (“to the point of death”). [1]

Constable also notes that Jesus was not “wishing” for His death, but that He felt so overwhelmed in all areas of His being that it was as though that pressure was going to kill Him. He wasn’t exaggerating either. We cannot comprehend the fullness of the weight He bore.

We also know from the narrative in Luke 22 that Jesus, though emotionally and volitionally so afflicted, still managed to submit Himself to the Father and the Father’s will for His life. In essence, Jesus fought hard through prayer to be “in the moment” and to become “one” with the Father’s will for His life.

42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground, (Luke 22:42-44).

So while we all know the process for coming to “be in the moment,” it can be rather difficult and it is different for each Christian, depending upon what it is they must come to terms with in their own life. Once Jesus successfully ignored the temptation to do His own thing, He was at peace with the Father’s will. He then moved forward in total acceptance of what God the Father wanted for Him. Fortunately for all of us, not every situation in life is overwhelming to us. Some situations might be mildly annoying, while still others are things we act upon willingly.

Being in the moment requires us to resist the temptation to do our own thing, to do what gratifies self, and to accept as the only viable option, God’s will for our lives. It is there we find fellowship and once we successfully set aside our own desires (when they are at odds with God’s), we find fellowship, just as Jesus found fellowship. Again, this can feel different with each scenario, but the goal is always the same – to agree to God’s will for our lives in that moment. Certainly, not every decision we are faced with will be difficult and certainly, the level of difficulty will be different from situation to situation. The example of Jesus in Gethsemane is out of the norm, but nonetheless, showcases how difficult it can be at times to commit ourselves to the Father’s will. Overall, the truth of the matter appears to be that setting our own wants aside (when they conflict with God’s) in order to fulfill His will for our life is where we enter into fellowship with God.

I want to talk more about this next time, along with the growing New Age phenomenon called, Mindfulness, which also teaches a type of “being in the moment” philosophy. Is it the same as what we as Christians attempt to do but uses another name or is it something else entirely?

 

[1] Dr. Thomas L. Constable’s Notes on Matthew 2015, p. 422

Entry filed under: christianity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , , , .

Christ, Our Fellowship, Part 9 Christ, Our Fellowship, Part 11

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