|We need to die to be resurrected and to receive grace|
In many societies and people of faith, there is a yearning of something beyond death and religion is a way to make sense of God and the life thereafter. There is no empirical science for few have came back from heaven to give a full testimony which could be proven as fact. If it could be proven, it is no longer faith. But Jesus offered something much better than mere religion and ideas about God by people of faith.
Jesus died but He rose again, His risen identity seen by many as a testimony of a new creation, a new body from whence He rose to the heavens. Therefore, we once grope in darkness as if blind men, but Jesus became the 2nd Adam, the way, the truth to life thereafter. We are certain of eternity, of being resurrected with Christ because of faith and hope of redemption in Jesus Christ. We have the assurance of salvation, because we have a resurrected Christ, a fact testified by many witnesses.
We have the assurance of salvation because the Holy Spirit bears testimony to our Spirit of the risen Lord if we are indeed of God. The Holy Spirit works in the Spiritual realm and often we are too human, too carnal to listen and discern the supernatural voice of God. Yet the Spiritual realm is no less real than the physical realm.
I was once told by a preacher that we have certainly no direct line to God, and in a way no one could ever be certain nor claim for certainty of "Thus sayeth the Lord....". Yet, the entire notion of Christianity is a direct line to God. God came not as a Spirit, but as the man Jesus, so that mankind can have direct physical connection with God. And Jesus didn't leave us as orphans, He gave us the Holy Spirit. Just as the Pharisees didn't see God in Jesus Christ, not everyone will see God. We are to seek after the Holy Spirit of God, for He gives us revelation of Jesus and the continuaton of the Ministry of Christ on earth.
Without Christ, there is no real Christianity and we become no different from many other people of faith having different ideas of God but no certainty beyond the shadow of doubt. Religion becomes subjective to humanity, culture, traditions, and mystical experiences. However, in Christianity, Jesus Christ gave us that certaintly in His death and resurrection. The event changed the World, and it ushered in the divide of History itself.
The certainty of eternal life requires faith and Hope that goes beyond many carnal people of faith so anxious that they will not reach heaven that they created a religious system of power and wealth on earth so that it can be hopefully reflected in heaven. Thus we have a church hierachal beyond a dominant cultural patrichal system, where even the priests are not allowed to marry to preserve the power within the church. Therefore, the assurance of salvation became tied to the existence of the kingdom of God on earth instead of looking upwards to a heavenly kingdom of God.
How do we have the power of resurrection in our lives?
For some, the power of resurrection comes when we offer forgiveness to others who has wounded us or have caused us death. In our human forgiveness, we release ouselves from the yoke of humanity and achieve our potential to live a new resurrected life. Such notion of resurrection doesn't need Jesus Christ, and undervalues the meaning and supernatural power of resurrection.
The power of forgiveness is not necesarrily the power for resurrection, rather it is the path to rest in peace and to start all over again. At the Cross of Calvary, before Jesus died, He urged God the Father to forgive the Jews for the pain and agony that He was suffering. They have committed the greatest sin. They put God to death! Jesus died and His Spirit departed from His body only after He forgave the sins of those who tortured and killed Him. In order to die forgiven, we need to die forgiving.
Without forgiveness, we cannot really die. We may die physically, but we will hold on to hate, anger and unforgiveness and our spirit will not depart. We may live physically, but unforgiveness has a way of making the sin that others commit to us being sin in our own lives. We become the very person whom we hate.
The necesarry path for many Gay Christians is one of death. We need to go through the shadow of the valley of death. There are no detours. We need to come to a place of emptiness and humility, where we have lost everthing in our lives, our identity, our hopes and dreams, and relationships being denied and oppressed by others.
We come into this place of surrender, of total lost and despair when we place everything at the Cross of Calvary and we could only do that when we forgive. Unforgiveness hinders us because we will hold on to the hurts, hold on to the past and the lives lost and not being able to surrender it. Forgiveness allows us to let go, to allow the deaths of our lives to take its course of humility.
Jesus Christ gives us the power to forgive. We can forgive, we can let go of our lives, we can chose the part of death and humility by refusing to respond in kind thus giving up our rights to retaliate, because we know that as we loose our lives and ourselves in Christ, He will give us back our lives. It may not even be our lives on earth and we may still suffer gravely because of the sins of others. Yet, ultimately, our journeys end is not on earth but in heaven where we see Jesus.
When we forgive, we let go of our carnal self and the need to revenge and seek justice, and instead put on a spiritual self and what we have lost, we gain in Christ. The certainty and assurance of salvation, of having Jesus for eternity to come, gives us the power to forgive in this very short season on earth. We are willing to loose our lives including all our rights and demands of vindication of the harm done against us, because we have seen heaven, we have seen Christ. The Hope and reality of eternity far surpasses the hold on our earthly lives. We have the power and strenght to let go of our unforgiveness when our eyes behold the heavely Jesus at the right hand of God.
Hence, we forgive, because not only has Christ forgiven us and have shown the way, because in forgiving we give up our lives on earth that we may have eternal life to come.
For many gay Christian men, it is hard to forgive for the rejection by our family, our Christian church and the society at large almost but destroyed our lives and hope for a better future and relationships. We have lost too much and for many, it is difficult to bear. Too much harm have we suffered, our identity within being destroyed, violated and crushed. Yet when we embrace that deep loss and choose to forgive those who transgressed against us, truly we lay naked at the Cross of Calvary.
When we lay naked at the Cross of Calvary, loosing everything, even the core of our being and self, with no rights even to seek recompense for the harm done, truly we walk the path of Christ. When we loose everything and render our lives to Jesus, it is He who will lift us up. Jesus Christ is the power of the resurrection. He will make things new again. He will make our lives beautiful again.
As a young Christian, the yearning of my life was that Jesus would make something beautiful. I didn't realise that I would have to die first, to come out of the closet, to loose everything and to hang naked at the Cross yet like a gentle lamb haboring no hatred but forgiving those who had harmed me. For Christ is the power of the resurrection, and He will make something beautiful in my life, in this Kingdom on earth, and in the Kingdom to come in heaven.
When we want God to do something beautiful, we have to let go of everything even our rights of justice, the right to seek recompense. In forgiveness, we leave everything to God to give us back all we have lost and suffered. For ultimately, we will one day rejoice in heaven and when our life is over and through so much pain and suffering, all is not lost, for we shall rejoice and be comforted in our heavely abode.
We have the power of forgiveness because Jesus first forgave. We love because He first loved us. When the loss becomes too much for us and for many Gay Christians, we have lost everything, and cry we must but when we are willing to loose our lives and give others God's grace and mercy, there will be grace in our lives for God to do a resurrection work.
May the resurrection power of Christ work in our lives today, as we give it up and give grace, love and mercy to one and all. For Christ is the way, the truth and the life and the hope for eternity.