“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
I read a book many years ago by a seasoned parish pastor. He reflected on what he thought were the ten most important things to keep in mind regarding parish ministry. The very first, and most important point was this: Nothing works.
As a young pastor I found this startling and unconvincing. I still thought something was possible.
He went on to say that many people are disillusioned with the church because they approach it with a faulty expectation. Namely, that religion is supposed to make life work. Faith sees things differently.
The Christian life is defined by baptism, not our expectations. Paul tells us in Roman 6 that baptism is, first and foremost, a participation in the death of Christ. It is an invitation to dying as a way of life. We have been crucified with Christ. Our life and the world are not progressing, they are being brought to end.
At the same time, we have been raised with Christ in baptism. It is no longer we who live but Christ who lives in us. Our wagons are hitched to Christ Jesus and the future that He alone will bring. This is a great promise of the Gospel.
Our short-sighted expectations, constantly on the hunt for solutions, can only lament that in the midst of life we die. Faith, on the other hand, has no such expectation but receives the life that is given, rejoicing that in the midst of death we live!
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”