We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
Romans 6:4-6 (ESV)
One of the biggest prayer requests I get as a pastor is that some aspect of life is restored. Restored relationships, health, ministry, emotional health, joy – the list goes on. My response is often, ‘You are asking the wrong thing; ask for it to be resurrected!’
We serve together a God that is very much about the resurrection of life, not the resurrection of the past. When Jesus was resurrected, he was not restored to his old form, but resurrected into something that was unrecognisable by even his closest disciples (John 21:4). Paul speaks about being resurrected into a glorious new body different from what was buried (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). Resurrection is not about restoring what was, but resurrecting what should have been.
This simple word that means, ‘stand up again’ should be our driving force in our lives and denomination. It reminds us that we are raised up from sin and death into new life in Jesus and with Jesus, so that we may be able to achieve God’s purpose in this life.
As a denomination, resurrection drives us to put to death our preconceived ideas and fears, and strive to resurrect the heart-beat of who we are and where God wants us, not to restore or cling on to what was (1 Cor 15:38).
I am encouraged that when speaking to people about being Baptist I inevitably get the response, ‘I am Christian first’ That same understanding is flowing into the changes that are happening at a denominational level through Directions 2012 and needs to be a continued focus of who we become – we are followers of Jesus first, and our Baptist identity flows from that calling.