First Things @ First

Pastoral Perspectives,

The thought of separation came to mind this week. Separation is a very difficult experience for human beings that God designed to be relational and connected. When human beings are separated from those they love, there is often sadness associated with the adjustment. Obviously, the closer the relationship the more difficult the separation will be. What is true of the physical is also true in the spiritual. God enjoyed perfect harmony in his relationship with Adam and Eve until sin entered their heart and separated them from God. It was a painful period of adjustment for those created in His own image. As one former pastor and friend of mine once said, 'sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.' Sin in any capacity is costly! And sadly, sin is still separating people from God as well as from each other today. For those who have been born again, far too many have lived so long under the cloud of compromise they cannot think of life being any other way.

For those who have not been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, most if not all fail to realize what life would really be like without God in the picture at all. Though many live a separated life relationally from God, only those who die without Christ experience the kind of separation that Jesus gave His life to spare them of. In the present, every human being, born again or not lives in God's presence to some degree. While many may not acknowledge it, God is still present, still available, still willing to embrace the willful wanderer.

God is actively at work in His world. From the rising of the sun each day to the seasons of the year, all who are alive here are beneficiaries of God's active presence. However, that will not be the case forever for those who refuse Jesus as their Lord and Savior in the present. For the soul who rejects Jesus' Lordship, physical death forever seals the spiritual separation from God that Jesus experienced on the cross when He cried out, 'My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?"

In Jesus alone by faith alone, God provided a way for every person to be redeemed and released from the penalty of sin that condemns the soul to separation from God, entirely and eternally. In denying self and confessing Christ as Lord, the believing sinner is reconciled to God. Not only is there no condemnation for that person, (Romans 8:1) there is no longer a fear of separation from God relationally. (Romans 8:31-39)

That said, there is a different angle worth pursuing regarding separation. Once the believing sinner is joined with God through Christ, then God separates them from pursuing a purpose that is temporary (earthly) and directs each one in pursuing His purpose which is eternal. The Apostle Paul spoke of it in his second letter to the believers in Corinth. 2 Corinthians 6:17 This command comes on the heels of God's message to his church to live a holy and consecrated life on this earth. God's word reads this way--"Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord..." Who is 'them'? Answer--those who pursue what is temporary. And 'them' is not 'us' who believe. Colossians 3:2-10

Eugene Peterson in the contemporary version, 'The Message' puts it this way--"Do not link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all to Myself."

The motivation for living a separated life unto God is love for God. Love for God compels the follower of Christ to refuse the ways of the worldly minded that he/she lives and works with daily. However, it is that same love for God that compels the follower of Christ to reject the idea of living an isolated life from human beings who are pursuing what is temporal. Followers of Christ are to live in such a way that His light, the light of truth shines in the darkness. That simply will not happen so long as the salt stays in the container and the light is concealed. We, who know Jesus personally must let our light shine among men that they may see His good work in us daily. That brings glory to the Father in heaven.

Having been separated from the penalty of sin and given the strength through Christ over the power of sin today, we, as believers live with the assurance that one day we will be separated from the presence of sin altogether. Until such time we live out His calling on our life. That calling involves the consecrated/separated life that loves Jesus and honors God who saved us by His grace. In the meantime, it is imperative that our lives be lived distinctly enough that we slow the decaying process and add some flavor to life. With that, the world around us will notice the difference Christ makes and the door of opportunity will be opened for the gospel to be shared.

Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." John 8:32

So, what is the truth that helps me understand God's provision and my position today?

Simply this--

Those who are without Christ are separated from the life of Christ. That life is their own to ruin.

Those who are with Christ are separated to the life of Christ. That life is His own by redemption.

Are you living the kind of separated life that joins you to the joy of the Lord, daily?

Or will you experience the kind of separated life that Jesus experienced on behalf of sinners to save them from it?

A life of redemption from sin is to be embraced at His cost.

John 3:16-17

A life of ruin in sin is to be avoided at all cost! John 3:18

Both have consequences but only a life separated to Christ can correctly be called living.

God's best always in the journey with Jesus!

Pstr K

Hebrews 10:35-36