Permission to enjoy life: Granted

“Come and have breakfast.”  It’s a simple statement embedded in the story that billions believe has changed the trajectory of history forever – the resurrection of Jesus.  The bit about breakfast might easily be lost on us because of the larger framework of the resurrection, and the restoration of Peter to faith after he’d failed Christ by denying him.  But the meal and the wounds in Jesus side aren’t incidental décor; they’re telling us something vital about the nature of our life in Christ and where history’s headed.

The resurrected Jesus is embodied.  The person that rose from the grave left empty sheets in the tomb.  This means that Jesus appeared among his disciples as a whole person.  His glorified body could walk through walls, but it was a body nonetheless.  “Touch the scars” is what Jesus said to the doubter.

We will be embodied.  Jesus’ body, out from the tomb, was called the first fruits.  Today we’d call it the prototype.  It means that we can have a confidence in our own future beyond death by looking at Jesus life beyond death because we’ll share in his destiny, and his destiny was, and is, bodily.  His resurrection, though was more than just a prototype, it was the beginning of his reign, the beginning of what will reach final culmination in Revelation when we read of a new Jerusalem “coming down out of heaven.”  Wow.  It’s not that we’re all ultimately exiting to heaven.  It’s that heaven is coming down to earth.

I picture Christ’s reign, when heaven comes to earth, as touching and transforming everything that can be transformed, sort of the way that Aslan released the frozen statutes in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by his breath of life.   This is why there’ll be every tear wiped from every eye, an end to disease, suffering, death, oppression, and all that sucks the life out of us:  not because we’ve escaped this world, but because this world has been transformed.

Let it begin.  This ‘embodying’ of the resurrection life can and should begin right here, right now.  It’s why we’re called to learn the subject matter of God’s reign well by studying the kingdom of God.  It’s why we’re called to live in the world, as artists, fisherman, gardeners, lawyers, teachers, doctors, nurses, baristas, advocates, musicians.  As those empowered by Christ and made new by him, we’re His Breath, the very breath of life, as the Holy Spirit moves through us to bring hope to the world.

What a contrast to Colossians 2:20, which declares that the Christian life is about:  “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch,” as if being characterized by a negation of the world, rather than a transformation of it, will somehow make us and the world holy.  It’s not about negation.  It’s not about indiscriminant embracing.  It’s about transformation, so that vocation, meals, hobbies, love-making, and all the rest of life become sacraments, testimony of Christ’s power to transform, and hints of the life to come… a life that will unfold, not elsewhere, but here.

May Christ so fill your life this day, that you are empowered to enjoy your calling to live as a person of hope in this world, transforming what you touch as the breath God moves through you.  Amen…

About Richard Dahlstrom

As Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Richard teaches with vision of "making the invisible God visible" by calling people to acts of service and blessing. It's working, as a wilderness ministry, homeless shelter, and community meals that serve those living on the margins are all pieces of Bethany's life. "We're being the presence of Christ" he says, "and inviting everyone to join the adventure." Many have, making Bethany one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 according to Outreach Magazine.

  • Jim A.

    Yesterday I attended the funeral of a 26 year old. Cause of death was suicide. How incredibly devastating and sad for parents, siblings, and friends. Everyone struggles to explain how an intelligent, kind, and generous young person finds no hope and no ability to “transform what you touch.”

    This morning, less than 24 hours later, I was able to congratulate and hand out scholarships to 7 young women who are graduating from high school. It is the reason I am in Rotary; to raise money each year for education and support of young people. Two of the seven were even going to Seattle Pacific! The cumulative GPA I am told is 3.98. The activities range from AP programs, SHAPE, editor of the newspaper, tennis, track, community service, mentoring, etc. Amazing young people. I had to note that my sole criteria for selecting a college in the 1960’s was that the school was rated the biggest party school in the USA. My, how we have progressed.

    Clearly I saw 7 young women today who were full of hope, excitement about what lay ahead, ready to make their mark, and transform what they touch. They have dreams of medical school, business, and environment/public policy.

    But I can’t shake the sadness. All of these young people went to the same high school, have wonderful caring parents, and opportunity. Yet, yesterday there was no hope and no future. We have to keep trying. Jesus Christ is the answer. I pray that your message could somehow be conveyed to everyone: to “live as a person of hope in this World.”