Tag Archives: First Corinthians 15.31

Where is Christ today?

Searching for Jesus artBaby Jesus is on display.  Well, he is somewhere around here.  Maybe Jesus is under the Christmas tree.  Hopefully, he was not trampled under foot of one of the reindeer.  Has anyone seen Jesus?

In America’s capitalization and commercialization of his birth, it is easy to lose Jesus, to not only forget the reason but the person altogether.  We can lose him in the festivities, lose sight of him in the ribbons, bows and wrapping paper.  With so many people to plan for, we can forget to make room for Jesus.

The noise of commercial after commercial about discounts and “sales you won’t find anywhere else” can easily drown him out.  It might seem like a better deal, a better option. We sit in front of the television and decide not to talk to him at all.

In your life, where is Christ and how do you know that he is there?  Did you see him, greet him personally?  Did you make eye contact with him or rush past him to get out of the rain or the cold, to get ahead of your schedule or to get ahead in life?  Because Christ does slow us down.

Dying to self for the sake of Christ is a slow process.  The Apostle Paul says that it is a daily funeral, daily digging and dying, every day digging and dying (First Corinthians 15.31).  How many grave markers do you have?  Thinking about death might seem strange when we are celebrating the birth of Christ.  But, it shouldn’t because Christ came to die.  He came into the world to save sinners (First Timothy 1.15).

Where Christ is, there is a cross.  This is the cost of discipleship.  But, there is also the power of his resurrection.  This is the way to abundant life.

As we reflect on the God who came to us in Person, without substitute or hesitation, remember to look for Christ, to seek his presence in your life, to not only follow in his foot steps but to look for his footprints, to mark the trail of the Divine in your life.  This is my prayer for you and for me.

Race is Too Shallow

“A sure way of retaining the grace of heaven is to disregard outward appearances, and diligently to cultivate such things as foster amendment of life and fervour of soul, rather than to cultivate those qualities that seem most popular.”

Thomas à Kempis, The Inner Life

“The cross, therefore, is always ready; it awaits you everywhere. No matter where you may go, you cannot escape it, for wherever you go you take yourself with you and shall always find yourself. Turn where you will—above, below, without, or within—you will find a cross in everything, and everywhere you must have patience if you would have peace within and merit an eternal crown.”
― Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

9d65f9378c5b1555d2d9323b6917ff15It’s all about the flesh and how we see it.  Race is not in conversation with God but with other human beings.  Race is comparing our externals and once we change the texture of our hair, the shape of our eyes, the size of our nose, the shape of our lips, the social coloring of our skin, then what?  After we have done all that race says and become who race says is worthy, what’s next?  Are we are deemed socially acceptable?

The socially constructed white identity is not the highest expression of our humanity.  Instead, Christ is the highest expression and he is who we are to imitate.  Paul wrote to the church at Corinth: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (First Corinthians 11.1).  But, Paul didn’t teach the young church to wear Her hair like his or suggest that only blue eyes were beautiful.  No, we are called to copy Christ’s actions not his appearance.

Paul writes later in the letter, “I die daily” (15.31)  This is what we are called to do as Christians.  Dying to self and its desires is Christ- like.  Christ modeled this self- mortification in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Not my will but Yours be done” (Luke 22.42).  Likewise, we must deny and thereby die to our racial selves in order to bring glory to the image of God in which we were created.

To live life as a racial being, to allow our lives to be subjected to evaluation and judgment based on our external appearance is not the will of God for our lives.  To be described racially doesn’t even scratch the surface of who we are as human beings.  Race is simply too shallow.

Dying Daily to Race

“I die daily.”

~ First Corinthians 15.31

tombstoneFunerals.  No one likes them, right?  Well, except for morticians perhaps!  And death, like politics and religion, is a subject to be avoided unless absolutely necessary.  Whether it is because of the resultant grief, the mystery that shrouds it or fear of our own demise, death is not something that we like to talk about.

Or, maybe, it is because America loves life and Americans love living it to the fullest.  We pride ourselves on this freedom and will march, vote, fight and die for it.  But, death does not allow for that sort of freedom.  When it arrives, there is no place that we can go, no need to protest, no amount of ballots or signatures that will effect change and no way to combat it.  Death is final and we have no say in it.  This is why we don’t like it come around.  Death is stubborn and only God can change its mind.

This is also probably why I have never heard a sermon on Paul’s words to the church at Corinth.  Death is inevitable and unavoidable but we don’t want to think about it now, especially if we are in good health.  There is no need to prepare for death and certainly not to die daily as Paul does, right?

I think that we have it wrong, that our lives should always smell of death as there is much about us that should be allowed to live within us as believers.  Anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred, malice and jealousy are just a few examples of things within us that are deserving of death.  I would add to this list racism, prejudice and stereotyping.

Sweet Lord, let the funerals begin with me.  I want to die to the belief that the social coloring of my skin makes me better than others.  Take away my pride.  I want to die to the belief that I am to live my life in comparison to others.  Take away my jealousy. I want to die to the belief that I don’t have to forgive as if the victims of racism, prejudice or stereotypes are above your commandments.  Take away my unforgiveness, hatred and bitterness.  I want to die to the belief that their is a social hierarchy, a “pigmentocracy,” that ranks our importance based on our social coloring and physical features.  Take away the gods that I have created.  I want to die daily to race.  Amen.