A Reflection for the Daily Office Lectionary

“I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,

for I do not forget your commandments.”

Psalm 119:176

I have always been fascinated by the Psalmist of the Long Psalm (119). Early in my Christian life I was appalled by his love for God’s law (caught up as I still was in the after effects of the devil’s lie that ‘my way’ was always the ‘best way’).  But today, I am enthralled by the love, and desire to emulate the Psalmist in the experience and expression of it.

So, what does the Psalmist know that we need to know?

First of all, that there is indeed an ‘order’ within creation itself, a way of life, that if embraced, leads to ‘life’—that is, more and abundant life! Just look at some of the statements from today’s lection that ends the psalm itself:

“The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” V.160

“I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.’ V. 162

‘Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.” V. 165

The deep conviction that there IS an order to creation, and that to embrace that order leads to life, lies at the heart of the psalmist self-awareness.

But note as well, that the Psalmist knows that the discovery of that order is itself a gracious gift from the Creator himself! Without this gracious self-disclosure, the order would be hidden from the psalmist.  Note again the Psalmist’s own words:

I rise before dawn and cry for help” Why? Because “I hope in your words” – I hope in your self-disclosure (v. 147).

“My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise’ – the ‘promise’ of ‘more, and abundant, life’ (v. 148).

All of this leads to his pleas to “give me life according to your promise’ (v. 154); “give me life according to your rules’ (v. 155); “give me life according to your steadfast love” (v. 160). The very character and ways of God are graciously revealed in the Word of God.

Knowing all of this, I still found myself struck by how the psalm ends:

“I have gone astray like a lost sheep!” (v. 176).

The Psalmist who has received the revelation of God – the revelation of God’s good order—and has embraced the ways of God –“for I do not forget your commandments’ (v. 176)—nonetheless, at the end of the psalm, still finds himself as a ‘lost sheep’, one who has wandered “astray”.

This is a sobering thought.

It is not enough, it seems, to possess the revelation, nor even to embrace the revelation! There are forces within our world and within ourselves that nevertheless cause us to ‘go astray’.

So what is the Psalmist’s solution?

“Seek your servant!”

He throws himself upon the shepherding heart of his Creator!  The heart of the One who not only created the order and has revealed it to us, but who alone can help us to live by it—even when we are led astray by the forces that confront us!

The Psalmist describes the Divine-human partnership that lies at the heart of the gospel; the key part being the ‘shepherding heart of God’.

May we daily commit ourselves to his ways, while crying out for his ‘seeking presence.”

A Reflection from the Daily Office August 16, 2017


The Rev. Dr. Brian G. Campbell

“Who rises up for me against the wicked?

Who stands up for me against evildoers?’

Psalm 94:16

The contrast could not be sharper:

At the end of June, Janis and I attended the Anglican Church in North America’s Assembly in Wheaton, Ill., where the reality and beauty of multi-ethnic communities of faith were celebrated and encouraged.  It was glorious, and a foretaste of the fullness of the Kingdom of God (see Revelation 7 among other texts).

Then, during the first week in August, nine of us from Christ the Redeemer spent time rejoicing with and learning from our brothers and sisters in Rwanda.  If you were present for worship last Sunday you caught a glimpse of the power of the gospel to bring cultures together within the fellowship of the Kingdom of God.

And then we returned to America and the horrors of Charlottesville!

The circumstances that defined the events of the past weekend were bad enough; however, the inept, confusing, and disturbing responses to the circumstances are frightening (while the violent behavior from both sides is to be condemned, there is no moral equivalency between the ideology of racism and supremacism and misguided modern liberalism; the latter is lamentable, the first is contemptible).

All of this led to the questions: What is happening within our country? And, how should the Church respond to it?

I am not competent to answer fully either question.  But what I found helpful was to consider these questions in light of the Psalm set for the Daily Office last evening-Psalm 94.

The Psalm is a lament penned by an unknown author concerning an unnamed, but disturbing, crisis.

The first seven verses are the lament itself. The psalmist addresses the prayer to the “God of vengeance”, because THIS was the God he desired to intervene (such was the horror of the crisis he faced!).  In his opinion, it was time for the “proud to be repaid” and the “exultation of the wicked” silenced. These boastful wicked people of power were “crushing God’s people…Killing the widow and the sojourner, murdering the fatherless”, all the while defying God (“The Lord does not see” they say, “the God of Jacob does not perceive.”).

He first brings his lament before his God, and then turns to address the wicked themselves (v. 8-11). He issues a word of warning, reminding them of who it is they are dealing with!  “He who planted the ear…who formed the eye…who disciplines the nations…who teaches humankind…The LORD knows…” and will act in his good time.

This confession-like-warning leads the psalmist to make a personal confession of the blessings that come from God’s presence (v. 12-15). “Blessed is the man whom you discipline” (obviously seeing himself among that throng), “whom you teach out of your law”. And what is the conviction that comes from this blessing? “For the LORD will not forsake his people, he will not abandon his heritage; for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.”

This personal remembrance of blessing, and this communal confession of faith, leads to a publicly voiced defiant question: “Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against the evildoers?”  The psalmist, by voicing his lament to the only One who can intervene, discovers himself in the very presence of God, and is renewed by the reality of his partnership with God (“When I thought, ‘My foot slips,’ your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”

All of this leads to the conviction that “the LORD has become my stronghold”. The Psalmist is ready to face his crisis from this solid ground, trusting that the LORD “will bring back on them their iniquity.”

So what might this psalm teach us about our current crisis?

The first and foremost task of the Church (and individually each of its members) is to PRAY! To bring the crisis, and our personal response to it, before God as honestly and as passionately as we are able.  This remains the genius of the Jews, and must become the habit of the Church! Let’s stop our ‘ranting and raving’ to others, and begin our ‘lamenting’ to God.

We need to pray BEFORE we speak to those in the crisis! And then, we are to simply remind them of the danger they are in, responsible as they are for their actions and convictions, before the One who made them and who will hold them to account.

And finally, we are to remain in prayer until we ourselves are changed simply by being in the presence of God, having renewed our partnership with him. Then, and only then, can we dare re-engage with the crisis from that “stronghold”, while trusting in and waiting for the fullness of the Kingdom.

In the midst of this crisis, may the Church be the community that brings it into the presence of God, seeking to be changed by that presence, so that we might be agents of change –in partnership with God—within our culture.

The ‘Call to Prayer’ for Lent

A Reflection on the Call to Prayer for Lent:
At our last Leadership Council meeting we began with the question: ‘Where do you see the Spirit’s movement within and among us at Christ the Redeemer?’  It is a question we return to often. For me, the answer was dramatically clear: within the growth of our Community Life groups. Let me explain.
When the church was planted, Janis and my children were the only ones still living at home among the original six couples! This (predominantly) empty-nest group chose to combine the ‘communal’ and ‘discipling’ aspects of their lives by forming same-sex Discipleship-focused study groups. These were blessed by God initially with slow, but steady growth.
When the first wave of young families with children arrived, their longing was for ‘community’—especially community which included and involved their children–and this took precedence over their desire for ‘discipleship’ (though it did not eliminate this!). These gathered together (with their children in tow) to share a meal, to get to know one another, to pray together, and—over time—develop the trust to go deeper together.  God has blessed this initial grouping beyond my comprehension.
That initial group grew over time that it eventually gave birth to a second group (one meeting in Chesapeake, the other a combination of Norfolk and Virginia Beach).  To the initial draw of ‘affinity’, the pole of ‘geography’ began to exercise a greater influence. In the next two years, the second group (the Norfolk-Virginia Beach one) has birthed a second and third group, and is now prepared to give birth to a fourth (three of which will be based in Norfolk, one in Virginia Beach). That, to me, is a sign of the Spirit’s blessing.
If the Spirit continues to bless this movement, could we expect to see those three Norfolk groups multiply into six in a year or two?  I, for one, am eager to find out.
But here is the thing: only 40% of our Norfolk contingent are involved in these ‘Community Life’ groups. If we could form three such groups from the 40%, could we form four from 60%, five from 80%, or (dare I say it), six from 100% of us who hail from Norfolk? And again, IF the Spirit continues to bless these groupings, might we see six, (or eight, or ten, or twelve!) such groups in the next year or two?
In our renewed vision for our community, we have discerned that God desire us to ‘intentionally grow’ (which means we are committed to discerning and cooperating with the Spirit), ‘Norfolk-centric’ church (which means that while we seek growth from all areas, we especially seek growth from Norfolk, the ‘mother’ of the ‘mother-to-be’ church).
All of this raises a question:  If you are not presently involved in one of these ‘Community groups’, is the Spirit stirring you up, at the present moment, to become part of this movement?  Especially if you reside in Norfolk: is this the time for you –and your family– to become involved?
I would encourage all of us to add this to our Lenten prayers. Seek the direction of the Spirit in this, as in all things.

A Reflection for This Day

A Reflection for This Day
The Rev. Dr. Brian G. Campbell
“The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!”
Psalm 146:1-10
It is finally over!
We have just lived through one of the most horrendous election cycles of our history, one which offered two of the most flawed candidates ever to run for the Presidency, and have now emerged as divided and entrenched as ever before.
Lord, have mercy.
I woke up this morning with Psalm 146 on my mind, and I thought I would share it with you:
Where do we begin this morning? Whether we are in the depths of despair, or secretly pleased by the results of the election?
We begin where the Psalmist begins, with praise:
Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2  I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Then we go on with the psalmist to remind ourselves that our hope is not in any particular political system:
3  Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
4  When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.
Instead, we affirm the reality of where true blessing is to be found:
5  Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6  who made heaven and earth,the sea,
and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
7  who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
We go on to remember who this God is, and how he has revealed himself to us and to all:
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8  the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
9  The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
Finally, in the light of his gracious self-revelation, we confess– with all the saints– the glorious truth of the assurance of his purposes:
10  The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!
I commend this psalm to you this morning; may you take comfort and direction from it.
I also encourage you to pray;
-for yourself or for others you know who may be distraught (it is far better to lament in prayer than to vent on Facebook);
-for our nation (that God would protect us, help us heal our divisions, and guide and direct our leaders);
-and for the Church (that the People of God, by their life lived together, witness to the One who reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords).
“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God.”

Embrace the “Birth Pangs”

A Reflection on the Daily Office Readings

The Rev. Dr. Brian Campbell

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

“(Paul and Barnabas) returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

(Acts 14.21-22)

Read that text slowly once more. Be honest, don’t you love the ‘strengthening the souls” and “encouraging in the faith” part, but are a little leery about the ‘many tribulations’ statement! It just doesn’t sound like good news to us. But here’s the thing: It did to them!

The folks in Antioch (of Pisidia), of Iconium, and especially of Lystra, who had responded by faith to the call of God through the preaching of Paul and Barnabas, knew that the ‘many tribulations’ were not something to be feared but to be embraced.  And the reason they knew this was because they saw the evidence first hand in the scars on the body of Paul.

Remember the story we have been reading in the Daily Office: Paul and Barnabas have been consecrated by the Church in Antioch to take the gospel to the Gentiles of Asia. At every stop on their preaching tour they experienced both great success and great opposition:

  • At Antioch of Pisidia, though they attracted the entire city to the synagogue to hear Paul preach, the Jews incited the leaders of the city to ‘stir up persecution against them, and drove them out of their district.’ (13:50)
  • At Iconium, despite great numbers coming to faith, ‘but the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against them…. (ending with) an attempt..to mistreat them and to stone them.’ (14:2,5)
  • At Lystra, what the unbelievers could not do in Iconium, they succeeded in doing in Lystra—‘they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.” (14:19) And this only days after they had declared he and Barnabas to be the incarnation of Zeus and Hermes!

And how did Paul and Barnabas respond to this abuse?  They went on to Derbe and preached the gospel there, and then ‘returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”   Their ‘many tribulations’ could not deter them from fulfilling their calling! And the disciples knew that, received that, and embraced that for themselves.

How can this be? What is it that would enable Paul not only to endure such suffering but to return to the place of that suffering? What did he know that we need to know, so that we too can ‘enter the kingdom’ come what may?

The answer, as seen in the text of Acts, is this: They were absolutely convinced that God had raised Jesus from the dead; thereby declaring him to be both “Lord and Christ” (2:42). Not only this, but God had exalted him to his right hand (7:56), and had thereby “appointed him” to be the One “to judge the world in righteousness” (17:31).  In other words, they were utterly convinced that through his death, resurrection and ascension, that Jesus had been declared the Last Adam, the One who would give birth to a New Humanity, who themselves would be enabled to inherit and inhabit God’s New Creation.

They were so convinced of the reality and the meaning of the resurrection, that they could easily understand the ‘many tribulations’ as ‘birth pangs’ of the New Creation; and thus were enabled to embrace them without fear.

Paul and those first disciples were so convinced.

Are we?

Betrayal or Communion

ING Two Small Children Reaching Up SMThe compilers of the lectionary for the Daily Office love Psalm 37!  It occurs no less than eight times within the liturgical year, and always on a Thursday (set for both the morning and the evening office).  Truth be told, the selections from the psalter are set in a seven week repeating pattern (thus, every day in the Daily Office will have the same pattern with different psalms).  It just so happens that ‘Thursdays’ have become my go-to day for my ‘Reflections’ and thus David’s Psalm 37 is a frequent companion.

I am drawn to Psalm 37 (as you can tell by my past reflections) but have been intrigued to discover its association with Thursday.  The Daily Office is set to reflect the Passion of Jesus on a weekly basis, with an emphasis on the Great Triduum (Maundy Thursday through Easter Sunday).  Thus, ‘Fridays’ psalms are frequently affliction psalms corresponding to the Great Affliction that makes us whole; ‘Saturdays’ psalms are typically ‘trusting’ or ‘waiting’ psalms corresponding to Christ’s experience on Holy Saturday; ‘Sundays’ psalms are ones of praise and exultation pointing towards the glory of the resurrection.

And ‘Thursdays’ psalms?  Dare we say that they are typically ‘decision’ psalms- psalms which present us with a choice between faithfulness and faithlessness when faced with difficult circumstances? The choice between ‘betrayal’ and ‘deeper communion’ that characterized the evening of Maundy Thursday?

David’s circumstances – both personally and societally- have definitely changed. ‘Evildoers’ and ‘wrongdoers’ seemingly are blessed; those who ‘carry out evil devices’ apparently ‘prosper in (their) way’!

In the light of those changing and challenging circumstances the choice before the faithful ones is clear: either we ‘fret’ or we ‘trust’!  Either we give in to ‘fear’ and ‘anger’, to ‘envy’ and ‘anxiety’, or we choose to embrace and deepen a way of life that increases ‘trust in the LORD’ (v3), where we can ‘delight .. in the LORD’ (v4), where we ‘(re)commit our way to the LORD’ (v5), where we consciously and practically order our lives so we can ‘be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him’ (v7).

Please note, David is not advocating withdrawal from the world! We are to ‘trust in the LORD and do good!’ (v3), to ‘commit our way to the LORD…and he will act’ and his action will be seen in our vindication within and before the world (“He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday’ v.6).

Nonetheless David presents us with a fundamental choice in the face of difficult circumstances: ‘betrayal’ –through the giving in to fear and anger and envy, or ‘deeper communion’ –through an embrace of the disciplines that open us to grace.

In the mist of the circumstances of your day, which choice are you making?

His exaltation enables and assures our exaltation.

Beautiful blue skyBut we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor… Hebrews 2: 9

Today is Ascension Day, the day when we are asked to reflect on and celebrate the exaltation of Jesus to the right hand of God.  In other words, we are asked to reflect on and celebrate that at a moment in time, and as the climax of redemption, a particular flesh-and-blood human being was elevated to share in the very glory of God!

That is both an amazing, and an amazingly difficult thing to do. To aid us in doing so, the other lections set for today are helpful.

First, David expresses wonder as he contemplates the reflected glory of God seen in the creation itself (Psalm 8).    God’s glory is ‘set…above the heavens’ and yet is reflected wonderfully within the ‘heavens and the earth’. When he reflects on the greatness of that reflected glory he wonders ‘what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?’  And yet, he says, ‘you have given him dominion over the works of your hands…’

David wonders at the role and the honor bequeathed to humanity by our Creator; a role and honor which is not eradicated by our fallenness.  We are asked today to contemplate the wonder of that role and honor now absolutely purified and perfected in and by Jesus.  Difficult to do, yes, but not impossible.

Second, turn to the text from Ezekiel and read about the prophet’s encounter with the ‘direct’ glory of God (go ahead and read the entire first chapter and try to imagine the unimaginable).  What is the impact of this encounter with glory?  He fell on his face, and needed the gift of the Spirit of God to be raised to his feet (Ezekiel 2:2).

The direct glory of God is so far above us that it overwhelms us. And yet, we are asked to believe that JESUS now shares in that glory. Take some time today to contemplate and celebrate that fact. That this particular human being, Jesus of Nazareth, now shares fully and truly in the glory of God.

But don’t stop there!  Go on to contemplate that he does so ‘on our behalf and in our place’!  He does so as the Messiah of Israel, the One who embodies and represents the people who were called to embody and represent humanity.  As the exalted Messiah he becomes the Last Adam, the One through whom God gives birth to a new humanity; a new humanity that shares in his glory, even as he shares in the very glory of God.

His exaltation enables and assures our exaltation.
That too is something to contemplate.
That too is something to celebrate.

Take some time today to wonder and rejoice in the Ascension of Jesus.

The life-giving desires of Jesus

Jesus in the GardenA Reflection from Thursday Daily Office.

I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. Luke 22:15

 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. John 17:24

I found myself overwhelmed with emotion this morning as I read Jesus’ prayer in John 17. Can we dare believe that his deepest desire is for us to ‘be with (him) where (he) is’ so that we not only ‘see (his) glory’ but come to truly share in it?

I found myself reflecting on the reading from Luke’s Gospel which we will read tonight at the Eucharist, and again was surprised – in a good way- at the ‘earnestness’ of his ‘desire’ to eat that particular Passover – and to eat it in such a way that he transformed it forever!

We KNOW what lay ahead of him that night. We KNOW what he had to do, had to suffer, in order for his desires for us to be fulfilled by his Father!

At the beginning of the Great Triduum (the Great Three Days – beginning with Maundy Thursday and ending in Easter Sunday), we are encouraged to believe that the momentous and world-changing events of these days were all to fulfill God’s desires for us!  God’s desire for ‘communion and union’ with us!

Bear this in mind as you come (and I do hope you will come! I trust that you will overcome the wiles of the enemy that makes you reluctant to expose yourself to these events, and intentionally and deliberately show up!) to our Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services, culminating in our Easter celebration.

Easter Triduum Services:

Can I also remind us that as we come tonight that we not park on the south side of 37th Street (the side of the street closest to the building), as our friends at Knox also have a service this evening.

Child care will be provided at all services for our youngest members.

Please do you best to be on time this weekend (6:00 pm starts for both Maundy Thursday and Good Friday; plan now on arriving at 9:45 am for Easter!).

But mostly, come daring to believe that the One who loved you into being, has loved you into newness of life, so that he may share his life, his glory, his majesty with you for all of eternity.

To live and lead without fear of shame!

Person enjoys to the sun at sunsetLet not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord God of hosts. Let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. Psalm 69:6

A bishop I much respected once told me he had this verse made into a plaque and placed it in a prominent place on his desk. That simple statement resonated within me then, and it does even more today! This prayer lies at the center of every leader’s heart, because it expresses the substance of every leader’s fear- that their own brokenness will one day sabotage their leadership and betray the ones they love and lead

The reason for David’s cry becomes obvious from the context of the verse. He is once again in trouble, his circumstances have become overwhelming (v 1-3; v 14-15).  He describes them as a ‘flood’ and his predicament as ‘having no foothold’, no firm place to stand. He is being falsely but viciously slandered by an overwhelming number of enemies. It is not that he is guiltless (v. 5), but he is NOT guilty of what he is accused of.  To make matters worse, he has become isolated and universally disdained. His own family has disowned him (v. 8), and both the elite (‘those who sit in the gate’) and the ‘drunkards’ in the streets mock him (v.12).

And why has this fate befallen him? It is for your sake (O Lord) that I have borne reproach… For zeal for your house has consumed me… (v 7, 9).

And where is God in all of this? He is hidden and silent (My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God v 3, Hide not your face from your servant v 17).

And what does David do in the midst of those devastating circumstances?  He prays (Save me O God v 1, Deliver me… v 14, Answer me, O Lord v.16) and he vents (v. 22-28)!

It is the venting that troubles us! In fact the folks who put together the lectionary encourage us to skip it altogether!

But this, it seems to me, would be a massive mistake. To comply with it would almost surely lead to the ‘putting to shame’ of those we ‘lead’. How is this so? To ignore our desire for vengeance (and that is what David expresses), to pretend it does not exist, does not make it go away! To push it down into the dark, rather than bringing it out into the light, almost assures that we will act on it; we will respond to our circumstances fueled by this (warped and fallen) desire, and thus fail the ones who look to us!

Psalm 69 was an important text for the early church. It helped them understand the horror of the cross and the astonishing love of Jesus. Here was David’s ‘Greater Son’ enduring the greatest of all travesties (the ‘sinless one’ bearing the sin of the world), absolutely alone (My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?), crying out to the Father, not for vengeance, but for forgiveness (Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do).

When we ‘vent’ to this One in prayer, and then go on to ask him for the courage and the wisdom NOT to act on the ‘venting’ but to renounce it—in the midst of the difficult circumstances—we place ourselves in the position to receive his grace.

And it is that grace, and that grace alone, that can enable us to live and to lead— in the midst of our circumstances—without the fear of shame!

The Surprising ‘Reign’ of God!

Michelangelo-Creation-Hands-SMFor if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through the one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Romans 5:17

Paul’s Epistle to the Church in Rome is without doubt his greatest and most profound work – but that  also makes it his most complex and dense letter! If you have been faithfully reading through the Daily Office you will know exactly what I am saying. I encourage you to press on in your reading and your reflecting despite the complexities.  There are many wonderful and awe-inspiring surprises waiting for us if we do. Consider today’s text:

We have arrived at chapter 5 and Paul’s great contrast between ‘Adam’ and ‘Christ’ (the ‘Last Adam’).

Paul argues that ‘sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned’ (5:12).  And the effect of all of that? ‘Death reigned….’(5:14). There is the horror of the ‘Fall’; through humanity’s folly evil – personified as ‘Death’- not only slips into the creation, but takes over! ‘Death’ usurps the Creator’s rule!

BUT, praise be to God, ‘the free gift is not like the trespass’, because the ‘Last Adam’ is not like the ‘first’!

Note the contrasts Paul highlights:

  • As Adam’s faithlessness led to the ‘death of many’, so Christ’s faithfulness leads to the ‘abounding of grace… for the many’!  (5:15)
  • As Adams’ faithlessness led to God’s ‘judgement following one trespass (and) brought condemnation’, so Christ’s faithfulness led to God’s ‘free gift following many trespasses (and) brought justification.’ (5:16)

This is truly marvelous news, but then comes the last and great contrast; one which is a glorious surprise!

Paul again states that ‘Death’ reigned through Adam’s folly- (‘For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man…’) –  leading us to expect a counter-balance of ‘Life’ or ‘Christ’ reigning in its stead; but that is not what Paul says:

‘much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.’

Do you hear what Paul is saying?  It is ‘those who receive the abundance of grace’ through the gospel that will be enabled to ‘reign in life’ – and this, instead of ‘death’ – and all of this ‘through the one man Jesus Christ.’

The glorious result of the ‘free gift of the grace of God’ is the ‘restoring and renewing of the Steward of God’, the restoring and renewing of humankind – the new humanity! –  who then are enabled to ‘reign in life’—and all of this  ‘through the one man Jesus Christ’,  the one who is God’s ‘Last Adam.

I would encourage you to carve out some time today and let Paul’s words sink deep down into your soul.

Allow the Spirit of God to confirm this truth to your spirit.

And then go and live your life this day in the light of it.