January 12: Life is Intimacy

Oops…I got ahead of myself yesterday. We are not quite ready to get into what it means to be living souls.

First we need to finish talking about what it means to image God.

God is the source of all life. We image him. To image him is to have impact. To have impact is to work and keep (go back and read the previous posts for more on these two words).

To image God is not only IMPACT. It is also INTIMACY.

1 John 4:8. God is love.

God is an intimate community. His life is love. His life is communal. Why? Because he is a Trinity. The Father, Son, and Spirit live together in eternity in perfect intimacy and respect for one another. We could never say what John says above (God is love) if he were not a Trinity. If God were only one, he could not have loved much less BE love. But because he is Trinity he has loved and will love perfectly forever. In fact all intimacy flows from him, because without him there is no love.

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So life is love. If “To live is Christ” and Christ came to restore real human life, that is, image bearing, then he must have come to restore love. He came to restore intimacy. He came to restore true community.

By the way, impact without intimacy is a dangerous thing. Intimacy without impact is simply a sentimental thing. Thank God Jesus gives us back both.

 

January 11: Body, Soul, and Spirit

Here’s where we’ve been and where we are going:

We said that there are two things from Genesis that we needed to learn about being alive. The first is that we image God. We have spent a few days exploring that concept. The second is that we are living souls.

Genesis 2:7. then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul.

We will spend the next few days exploring this idea of being living souls. But first some groundwork must be laid.

When we begin to connect all of the scriptures I believe that we can see that we are made up of three parts: body, spirit, soul.

God crafted Adam’s body from the dust. He breathed into him a spirit*. And then he became a soul. We HAVE bodies and spirits. We ARE souls. The soul is what flows out of the body-spirit connection.

Why is this important? Because as we will see throughout this whole year, it is the spirit that will need to be changed (and Jesus has done this on the day you received him), and then it will be the body that will need to be changed (and Jesus will do this at the resurrection), and then the soul will be naturally changed as it flows from your new spirit and body connection.

To live from the indwelling life of Christ is to live from a new spirit. We have the Holy Spirit, not the Holy Soul. If you want your soul to change, you will need a new spirit and a new body. Jesus provides both. And that’s good news!

*There are several scripture that point to the spirit being given to us by God:

Job 33:4. The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Ecclesiastes 12:7. the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Isaiah 42:5. This is what God the Lord says … who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on [the earth]…

Zechariah 12:1. The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person…

January 10: Life is Protecting

Why have we been spending so much time in Genesis? Isn’t this blog supposed to be about living from Christ’s life? Yep. But to understand how Jesus’ life in us restores human life in us, we must first understand life (got it?). And the best way to understand what the basics of human life are is to keep exploring Genesis…so here we are again.

Genesis 2:15. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

Yesterday we looked at how we image God through work (abad), and how it is connected to worship.

Today let’s look at the word “keep.”

This is the Hebrew word shamar. This word means to guard, or protect. Here’s a couple more examples from early Genesis:

Genesis 3:24. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Genesis 4:9. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”

So humans were created to guard and protect creation. And this images God:

Psalm 121:5-7.                                                                                                                     The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.

God protects and guards us. We protect and guard others and creation.

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But, like abad, this word is also connected to worship:

Numbers 3:8. [The Priests] shall guard all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, and keep guard over the people of Israel as they minister at the tabernacle.

1 Chronicles 23:32. Thus they were to keep charge of the tent of meeting and the sanctuary, and to attend the sons of Aaron, their brothers, for the service of the house of the Lord.

*Note: both of the above scriptures use the same two words from Genesis 2:15 (abad and shamar) to describe temple worship.

The Sign of Life

So what is the sign of life? It is not only to work in God’s garden but also to keep, protect, or guard God’s garden. Cain’s question above “am I my brother’s keeper?” is a sign of death. Living as your brother’s keeper and guardian is a sign of life.

This is the life that Jesus Christ is restoring in us through his indwelling life. If “to live is Christ,” then Christ is working and protecting us as we become workers and protectors.

January 9: Life Is Work

The Source of Life

God is the source of life. He is creator. We image him. We flow from him. His own breath made us alive. To live is to image God. To image God is to impact this world. How do we impact the world?

The Signs of Life

Genesis 2:15. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

Working is a sign of God’s life in us.

This word “work” in Genesis 2:15 is bigger than meets the eye. It is the Hebrew word abad. This same word is used to mean to serve and to worship. Adam was told to “work” the garden. Or we might translate it as “serve” the garden. But can we also connect our working and serving to our worshipping?

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Let me show you another example of the use of this word from Exodus.

Exodus 4:23. Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.”  (ESV)

Exodus 5:9. [Pharaoh said] “Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.” (ESV)

You can see that the same word is used to describe worship and then to describe physical work.

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We were made to image God. We were made to work. We were made to worship. Whoever or whatever we work for is who or what we worship. We cannot separate work from worship. We cannot separate image bearing from work and worship, we cannot separate living from work and worship, and therefore we cannot separate Christ from work and worship.

If “to live is Christ” then he alone must restore our work to worship and our worship to our work.

Ephesians 2:10. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,which God prepared in advance for us to do.

January 8: Back to Life

I haven’t forgotten that a couple of days ago I said that there were two important things about being alive that we wanted to learn from Genesis. We are exploring the first one: to be alive is to image God. Soon we will begin to explore the second, but there is still more to learn about imaging.

But first let’s review for a second:

  • God made us in his image.
  • To image God is to make the invisible God visible.
  • To image God is to have impact in this world.
  • We can’t fully understand imaging God without understanding Christ.

If we want to understand what “To live is Christ” means, we need to continue to pursue the meaning of life itself. This has been our journey so far.

We already said that to image God is to have impact. But let’s keep exploring this idea.

Genesis 2:15. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work [take care of] it and keep [protect] it.

Let me ask you to think about this question: Have you ever felt truly alive by taking care of something or someone or by protecting something or someone?

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Well that’s exactly how God wants us to feel.

Do you feel it? Or are you bored, boring, or burnt out?

Taking care of and protecting the garden- this is what Jesus is restoring in and through us.  He doesn’t want us to live dead inside. He wants us to find life, love, and purpose in the garden in which he has placed us. He came to wake us up and bring us back to life.

 

January 7: Christ- the Goal of Humanity

To live is Christ. Therefore, we’ve been exploring what it means to be alive. To be human. Eventually we will dive deep into living from Christ’s life united to our life, but for now we are still setting our foundations.

The human person is made in the image of God. We are created not creator. We are not just rational animals.

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When we begin to connect what it means to be alive and to be human to Christ, we begin to see that Jesus didn’t come to simply “save” us from sin or hell. He came to make us human again. As Paul would teach us, our justification is the restoration of our humanity (the new creation).

In fact all of Genesis’ talk about being in the image of God is actually quite foreign to us. Why? Because none of us has ever really achieved it. No person has ever fully imaged God. We are made in the image of God, but do we image God? Sin prevents it.

So we need to go beyond the creation narratives of Genesis 1-2 to understand true humanity. Righteousness in Christ is what allows us to be fully human. Genesis tells us the ORIGIN of humanity, but it fails to tell us the END of humanity. Only Christ can tell us that. Righteousness is the essence of humanity. The end goal. And this righteousness is made possible only by the MAN Christ Jesus.

That is where this blog is headed- from creation to Christ. Won’t you stay with me this year as we progress in this journey together?

January 6: Imaging = Impact

In our journey to understand Christ as our life we have been trying first to understand what life is. God is the creator of life and all life flows from him. To be alive is to image God. To be alive is to flow from God as the Source.

The Source of Life: In future posts I will use this heading when we are talking about God and Christ as our source of life.

The Signs of Life: and I will use this heading when we are talking about our response.

Let’s practice…

The Source of Life:

Genesis 1:1. In the beginning God…

God is the source of all life. Plant life. Animal life. Angelic life. Human life. He is life. The fact that we image God proves that we are not the source or goal of life…we are a reflection of true life.

The Signs of Life:

Genesis 1:26. Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion…

One of the primary signs of life is dominion. Impact. Representative rule. We visibly represent the invisible God on the earth. As humans we have authority over creation. We are to impact all of creation for the good.

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Psalm 8:5-6. Yet you have made man a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet, 

To be alive is to have purpose. To be alive is to be a steward of all that God has made.

God has placed all that he has made under the authority of mankind. And the Man, Jesus, is the human under which all things in creation have been placed. Therefore when we say that “To live is Christ,” or that we live from the indwelling life of Christ, a big part of this is impact or dominion.

Jesus came to restore this impact, dominion, and representative rule in us because we have messed it up so terribly with our sin.

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