In, Not Of

Life Notes—April 1, 2010 

“What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”  1 Corinthians 15:50 

One of the mysteries of the structure of the United States is the relationship between, yet the separation of church and state.  One of the confounding mysteries of Christianity is the relationship between, yet separation of flesh and blood from the spirit.  The Constitution of the United States declares no government can either mandate or prohibit religious practice.  Christian writings claim that we are to be “in” the world, but not “of” the world.  The distinctions are confusing, at best. 

Churches exist within the United States, yet have important separations from governmental interference.  Christians live in the realm of flesh and blood—the material world—but are advised to be grounded in and focused on another world.  The “real” world is where we learn and grow and experience flesh and blood, but the “real-er” world lies beyond.  It cannot be seen by flesh and blood; but it can be experienced.  Our earthly senses cannot measure or define the kingdom of God; it is discovered by faith alone.  But once we catch a glimpse of that kingdom through faith we begin to see evidences everywhere of the interwoven tapestry in which we live and move and have our being.  Spirit and flesh; flesh and spirit.  Separate, yet intimately connected.  In, but not of. 

One glorious image of the crucifixion and resurrection is the amazing distinction between, yet the inseparable connectedness of flesh and spirit.  In flesh and blood Jesus suffered horrendously.  At the same time and with the same act he gloriously accomplished the spiritual salvation of humankind.  Christ knew, in ways we cannot, that flesh and blood is but a small chapter of the book of life.  Flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of God, but the soul housed in flesh and blood on the earth can and will enter the kingdom of God because of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!  Jesus felt physically forsaken by God in his suffering, as we often do, but he knew the spiritual tie held strong.  He suffered “in” this world, but his foundation and strength was not “of” this world.  Keeping his focus on the eternal, he made it through the physical torment.  May we do the same, through and by his resurrection! 

This Sunday is Easter, the highest and holiest day of the Christian year.  Tom’s sermon will focus on the victory over sin and death found in the resurrection, from the scripture 1 Corinthians 15: 50-57.  There will be six Easter celebrations at First Church this Sunday.  Life Worship will occur at 9:30 in Brady Hall.  Other more traditional services downtown will be at 8:00 and 11:00.  A SonRise Service, led by our youth, will occur at 7:00 AM on the west campus, followed by contemporary worship at 9:30 and 11:00. 

Come home to worship this Sunday.  Christ is risen!  Come, rejoice with us!

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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