sexta-feira, 3 de abril de 2015

ALREADY RESURRECTED


Since…you have been raised with Christ,
set your hearts on things above,
where Christ is,
seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things above,
not on earthly things.

Colossians 3:1-2 (read 3:1-4) - NIV

We usually think of the resurrection as something that happened in the remote past (Jesus arose) or as a faraway future hope in the end times when everybody will be resurrected. But in this text Paul treats the theme of our resurrection as of something that is a present reality which has already happened – “you have been raised with Christ”. The fact that we have already been raised with Christ should have profound implications for our daily lives.

Biblical language is poetic, symbolic and mystical. It is spirit, not science – symbolic, not literal. It is impossible to understand it literally. The figures that are used represent realities beyond themselves. Where Christ is seated next to God is not a literal point in space. Heaven is an inner reality, not a physically located place. The “things above" and the “earthly things" do not refer to objects that are physically located. Both: The “things above" and the “earthly things" are values, not objects.

If we have already been raised with Christ, our interests should now be directed toward another system of values. "Earthly things" represent our materialistic immediatism which gives us personal and physical gratification in the here and now. “From above” represents the long term values which promote collective wellbeing but do not always produce immediate results. The resurrection takes us from the tyranny of selfish immediatism and places us as citizens of the universe and of the Kingdom of God which is selfless and all inclusive. We are not isolated individuals, each one taking care only of himself or herself at the cost of others.

In our culture, the highest values are material. Human beings are valued according to the amount of wealth they possess. Profit is the god of materialism. The malls are our temples, the clerks are our priests and the advertisers are our evangelists. Eternal happiness is achieved through purchases. The accumulation of material wealth and power is heaven. Earthly heaven exalts sumptuous buildings, great monuments, flashy designs, powerful war machines and everything related to wealth, power, and status.

The churches, too, are tempted to enter into the dance of materialism. They feel pressure to show their greatness through magnificent buildings and play up statistics to show their achievements. The success of pastors is measured by financial and membership growth statistics instead of a positive impact on the quality of life of the members and of its surrounding community. Not to reach budget targets is worse than not reaching out to the needy. The prosperity of the churches is measured by their internal activities rather than their social engagement in their local communities. When I started out as a pastor my first church supervisor once counselled me to not forget that the two most important books of the Bible are Numbers and Acts if I were to be a successful pastor.

Being “raised with Christ” leads us to the dimensions of a "glory" that cannot be measured statistically. It takes us beyond the limits of: sectarianism, patriotism, legalism, petty biases, classism and racism. It unites us with all of humanity and connects us with the whole of creation. It has nothing to do with doctrines, dogmas and creeds but everything to do with living a life of unconditional love toward others in this world that is perishing because of the lack of love.

 

COLOSSIANS 3:1-4 – NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV)

LIVING AS THOSE MADE ALIVE IN CHRIST

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

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