Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Life Like Fresh Water

Followers of Christ are baptized into a new community and a new humanity. We still have relationships with many people who are not a part of the new community, and we have many points of contact with the old humanity, so much so it seems we have one foot in the grave. But Christ is Head of the Church, the Firstborn of the New Creation, the Image of the Invisible God where Adam failed. So in being united to Christ, we are part of a new community, the Church, and our identity and destiny is linked to a new humanity that labors not under the sentence of death but rather serves with the promise of eternal life. These thoughts are introduced in Romans 5, and the implications are worked out in Romans 6-8.
There is a neat illustration of this reality in the book of Ezekiel, chapter 47. The picture is of a deepening stream that flows from God's new temple. It is fresh water, and as it flows as a River toward the Sea, this fresh water reaches the salt waters of the sea and makes them fresh. There are at least two points to consider:
First, how deep are we into Christ, the new Temple? Positionally, you are either all-in or not at all. If you are in Christ, you are in Christ. But experientially and submission-ally, are you ankle-deep? Are you merely wading in Christ, or are you all-in?
Second, let me tell you my paint story. A customer met with Jane and they carefully chose just the right color, but then before I could get it on the wall, the customer changed his mind. I went to the paint store to see if they could lighten it, but the paint man said that to lighten it instead of just "gray" it up, you would need to add about half a gallon of white. Now think of the Sea: how much fresh water must enter from a stream into the sea to turn salt water to fresh? It seems there could never be enough. In fact, just a little salt water can spoil a great quantity of fresh water. But this is where the Romans 5 principle is so penetrating: "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." No matter the overwhelming tide of salt water, the freshness of Christ over-whelms salt, and sin.
So, as believers in Christ, we are members of a new community that seems in constant danger of being contaminated by worldliness, and of a new humanity that still makes regular visits to the funeral home. But our fears and senses cannot be allowed to tell us what is true. Rather, Christ is true, and He is the fountain of fresh water that can utterly transform the brine and sin of our world and our selves. 
This is a promise with which we can live.

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