Do you remember Jack’s death scene toward the end of Titanic? He helps Rose onto the floating door before sinking lifeless under the water. Then there are the boats rowing amongst the wreckage pulling those lucky survivors, like Rose, to safety. Don’t you often picture Jesus as the rescuer, rowing around saving people, like Rose, clinging to life? Paul doesn’t paint Jesus this way. In Paul’s world, there are no ‘Roses’, only ‘Jacks’ – lifeless people slowly sinking to the bottom of the sea. Gloria Furman describes Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:1-3 like this:
‘We need to lose the mental image of our pre-Christian state as being a drowning person helplessly flailing about in the water, hoping upon hope that someone might throw us a life preserver. Outside of Christ we are, in fact, spiritual corpses rotting on the ocean floor among the silt and sludge. The mention of our deadness in transgressions and sins speaks to the comprehensive state of our lifeless soul.’
Enter the Resurrection Story
Jesus is not an undertaker. His mission is not about collecting dead people but breathing his life into them. If you’re like me, you’ve heard of the resurrection. It’s when Jesus returned to life having died on the cross. This truth is of fundamental importance to the Christian faith. Without it, Paul says, we should be pitied more than everyone else.
Followers of Jesus rightly apply Jesus’ resurrection to their lives. Jesus’ resurrection assures his followers they too will be raised from the dead when he returns. But often we forget that Jesus has invited us into his resurrection now. Jesus has taken us from the depths and breathed life into us. He has already raised us to life, our bodies just need to catch up. We have been resurrected. We are Jesus raised people living in a world of zombies.
Living in the Land of Zombies
Hospitality is not about having friends over for dinner. There’s nothing wrong with having friends around, but hospitality is deeper. Hospitality is the art of welcoming people. Jesus was a master at this. For him it was about welcoming people into the story of God. There’s the cross. And he traded failure for grace with the Samaritan woman by crossing every barrier between them. Even when he invited himself to eat with people it was an act of calling them into the story.
I love how JR Woodward describes living in the mission of God:
‘We are to be witnesses to God’s kingdom, joining him in bringing a greater sense of beauty, justice, reconciliation, mercy and healing to the networks and neighborhoods to which God has sent us. And as we join God in this greater mission, we have the opportunity to invite others to become reconciled with God and join the revolution.’
The words Woodward uses are resurrection words – beauty, justice, reconciliation, mercy and healing. They are words that are evidence of God’s kingdom to which he has invited us to partner with him. They are purposeful. It isn’t resurrection for resurrections sake. Instead God brings resurrection so we can be reconciled with him and join in his work.
Our lives must reflect Jesus’ if we are to be his followers. We must live in such a way that invites others into the story of God. Jesus has breathed resurrection life into the deadness of our hearts. As resurrected people we walk among the ruins calling life out from death. To people, places and situations we have the opportunity to bring God’s life as his agent of hope.