He is risen indeed!

As I read narrative scripture, I like to imagine how people were feeling as they lived through the events that were recorded or fill in the blank spaces of elapsed time between those events. One of the spaces I wonder about is the time between the second and third chapters of Genesis. Was that a week, a month, a year, a decade? What was going on during that time? In chapter 2, Adam gets a home, a job, and a wife. In chapter 3, the Fall changes everything. But we find there just a glimpse of what life might have been like in between the two.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day....  -Genesis 3:8 (NIV)

I picture a period of time long enough for a honeymoon, at least a couple of growing seasons that gave Adam insight into the life cycles of plants and animals he encountered in the garden, and the experience of taking satisfaction in his work. I picture Adam and Eve walking with God through the creation while He did a "show and tell" introduction to many of the wonders of nature. I picture God giving them room to work, explore, and discover, then meeting them at the end of each day to hear about what they had seen and experienced. He would already know, of course, but He would love to see the excitement in their faces as they recounted it for Him.

Would you call that "Abiding"? Perhaps so, I think. And it's that fellowship with our Father that we lost in Genesis 3. The sad, sad day when the relationship with God, at least for most of us, became less about "being" and more about "doing". And that's the way it remained until another day, a better day, when God re-visited His people to provide a way back.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  -Romans 5:6-8 (NIV)

The death and resurrection of Jesus enables us to abide again. Not only is the pathway no longer blocked (Gen. 3:24), the door is wide open with a WELCOME mat out front!

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.  -2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV)

In Christ, we are in fellowship with the Father once more. It is His dearest desire. In His presence, we are transformed, recovering our God-intended glory as image-bearers. One of our questions from a couple weeks ago was, "What do I have to do to transform?" The answer is to abide. Get back to the garden, where it's no longer about the "doing" but the "being".

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  -2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV)

Of course, there are activities we can participate in that put us in a place of abiding. They are called "spiritual disciplines" or "holy habits". But don't confuse the practices with abiding - the disciplines are not the end, only a means to the end of abiding. If it helps, think of it like this: You and your significant other might share a meal, see a show, go for a walk, engage in conversation, or any number of other activities. The activities allow you to spend time together, get to know one another better, and learn to appreciate one another more. The activities are probably fun and enjoyable, but they aren't the point; the point is building the relationship. 

So celebrate this Resurrection weekend, thanking God anew for desiring that relationship enough to pay the ultimate price for our redemption. And when a brother says, "He is risen", reply with the confidence of a beloved son, "HE IS RISEN INDEED!"

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb 
be praise and honor and glory and power, 
for ever and ever!” 

-Revelation 5:13 (NIV)

Scott Thompson