Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Form of Religion Without Any Power

We are called to worship God both in Spirit and in truth...

Knowing the Power of His Resurrection

Tim Keller

"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith--that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead."

Philippians 3:7-11

I was watching a documentary recently on PBS and there was a minister who was asked, "Do you believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" And he responded, "The purpose and the personality and the power that was in Jesus continues, so that today he is a risen and living presence and possibility." What was he saying? He was suggesting that the purpose of Jesus lives on but that he is still physically dead.

But if Jesus' example lives on while he is really dead, you can only know him as an example. You can't talk to him, and he can't talk to you. If Jesus is not really living, he is not a living force who can come in and intervene in your life.

You will have a form of religion without any power.

But on the other hand, it is also possible to be orthodox about your belief in the resurrection of Jesus, but if you've never had a profound experience of that resurrection, your own spiritual resurrection, then you have a form of religion without power as well.

One one hand, the resurrection is a fact to be believed. On the other hand, it is an experience to connect with. If you have one without the other--if you believe in the resurrection as historical fact but never experience the resurrection personally, or if you think of the resurrection as a spiritual experience but don't believe it was a fact--you come out with a form of religion with no power.

My question is: Do you know them both? Do you believe in the resurrection as a historical event, and have you also had that profound personal experience of spiritual resurrection? Christianity refuses to be stuck in either category. It is not all about rationality, nor is it all about spirituality. It's both. On one hand, Christianity is about beliefs, proposition, and ethics. But that's not enough. You have to experience him to know him. There has to be a real connection. And on the other hand, Christianity is not only a spiritual religion. It's not like Eastern religions with no rational content. Christianity has hard edges to it. It says, "This is true, and this is false. This will get you saved. This will get you damned. This actually happened."...

To be a Christian is not just to believe in a set of propositions. It is that, but it's much more. It is to say,

"I count everything as loss or rubbish in comparison to my number one ambition, which is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering."
Paul is saying that if you understand the doctrine of the resurrection you don't just believe, you have a passion.

When I talk about having a passion for Christ, it might make you afraid that I mean you need to be a fanatic. Maybe you think, I had an aunt like that. All she did was talk about religion and the Bible and made everybody sick of it. That's not what we're talking about when we talk about a passion for Christ.

It's like my glasses. I don't spend all my time looking at and talking about my glasses. But I do spend all my time seeing everything through my glasses. And if my relationship between my and my glasses gets off, if they get too far down on my nose or get too dirty, it affects my perception of everything.

Likewise, a person with a passion for Christ is not necessarily always talking about Christ, but is looking at everything through Christ....

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