Friday, October 25, 2013

Take the Stairs



A century ago, the English novelist, G.K. Chesterton, observed that in the house of life, many people are content to live in the cellar.  In fact, they assume the cellar is the only room in the house.  Cellars and basements have certainly changed in the past one hundred years, yet Chesterton’s observation still holds true – that people often seem content to dwell in conditions far beneath what they have the opportunity to experience.  In fact, maybe the basements of today provide a way to extend his metaphor:  rather than take the stairs and dwell in the house itself, we create spaces in the basement, game rooms and family rooms, in order to avoid dwelling in the main part of the house.  It is hard to be joyful in the cellar, because the cellar is a place where people hate themselves because of their failures, are disappointed with God for what he has allowed in their lives, and blame others for their part in it all.

Jesus has made the way of deliverance through his death on a cross, and has resurrected from the dead.  Those who believe in these redemptive events are full participants in the death and life of Jesus.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not only a doctrine to be believed, but a powerful reality to be lived!  Christian doctrine always has as its trajectory changed lives. 

We must live upstairs because Christ’s resurrection makes it possible (Colossians 3:1-2).  Believers in Jesus have a vital connection and union with him.  Jesus has so closely identified himself with us that it is as if we are actually his body.  The bond that exists between Jesus and the believer is so intimate and so close that when Jesus was raised from the dead, we took part with him in that event.  The implication of this incredible truth is that our life is to be the life of Christ.  Our task, then, is to live up to who we are in Christ.
 
            We are to set our hearts on things above.  Today is the day to get our hearts out of the basement and live upstairs with Jesus, who is seated at the right hand of God.  Being seated at the right hand is a symbolic picture that the work of Jesus on the cross is finished.  The only work left to do is to believe, and to participate in the life of Christ.  We do that by living upstairs with Jesus.  Christ’s heart was set on giving us eternal salvation from sin and death, and he accomplished it.  Now, he has his heart set on seeing us experiencing freedom from the habits and shame and practices and addictions that keep us from living upstairs with him.  He wants our hearts.  He does not want us mucking around in the basement any longer because his resurrection has made it possible to be with him. 

            We are to get our heads out of the cellar and get them upstairs with Jesus.  The way we think determines how we live.  If our heads are not in the main part of the house, basement thoughts will fill the void.  The cellar becomes a prison, because our thoughts do not rise above the bad circumstances we may have experienced.  You have been raised with Christ.  Because of this, we can ascend the stairs of grace and enjoy God.

A devoted follower of Jesus will follow him up the stairs and dwell with him in God’s house.  A follower of Jesus will develop the life of the mind by being steeped in the words and ways of Jesus by reading Holy Scripture on a continual basis, as if it were the believer’s food and drink.  A follower of Jesus will take the stairs and have a heart of prayer that talks to Jesus on a regular basis, because without the regular interaction of listening to God through the bible, and talking to God through prayer, the believer will feel lost and confused and without hope.  A follower of Jesus will take the stairs and serve his/her Lord with all their heart and all their mind, because staying in the confining walls of the basement prevents the believer from seeing the immense need of people in the neighborhood who are lost, sick, dying, hurting, hungry, depressed, and longing for someone to show them the stairway of grace out of the hopeless basement they are in.

            So take the stairs.  Take the stairs and leave behind in the basement all such things as these:  anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Take the stairs as God’s people chosen to dwell with him in the house by embracing the house rules of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Bear with one another and forgive whatever grievances you have against one another.  Take the stairs to forgiveness because the Lord forgave you.  Take the stairs to love.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since the resurrection of Jesus has made it so.  Take the stairs and let the activities of God’s house shape you and enter into them as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, whether you are speaking or whether you are acting, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him for raising you up with him.  Take the stairs my friends, and live the resurrected life! (Colossians 3:5-17).


Move to another level.  Leave the basement behind.  The first step up the stairs is always a step of surrender.  What do you need to surrender?  Do you need to surrender your heart to Jesus by allowing him to meet the needs of your life?  Do you need to surrender your mind to God by allowing Scripture to shape how you think?  Do you need to surrender your fears and worries to the Holy Spirit of God so that your security and hope is firmly in him?  Do you need to surrender your time to Jesus, so that he can live through you?  Do you need to surrender your possessions to Jesus, in order that his purposes can be accomplished?  Take the stairs.

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