My seminary extended an invitation to students, faculty/staff, alumni and friends of the seminary to write a devotion for our daily series of devotionals during Lent. The following is the one I wrote, which was sent out earlier in the season.
1 Peter 3:18-22
For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.
Whenever I try to put into simple language the heart of the gospel, I always go toward abundant life.
My “big picture view” of God’s involvement with creation is characterized by intimacy and caring: God is intimately involved with creation now, and cares deeply about it: its wholeness, its brokenness, its synergy… All aspects of our world, our lives, matter greatly to God. And God’s hope for us all is abundant life, the kind we get when we let go of our anxieties and love each other freely.
Jesus showed us how to do that. Jesus also empowers us to do that. Today’s Scripture reminds us that Christ suffered once, for all of us, to bring us to God. We don’t have to suffer for our soul’s sake, nor do we have to suffer for each other’s. We don’t have to weep and wail and rent our garments out of despair for our world; no, Christ has suffered once and now lives. As far as the author of this passage of Scripture is concerned, the sacrifice is done, and now it’s time for life in the spirit.
So what do we do this Lenten season to become a new creation in Christ? May I suggest this: allow yourself to enjoy the abundant life you are given through Christ, in and through those who love you. Allow yourself to see all the blessings and joys and ways you can grow in this Lenten season. Allow yourself to release anxieties and become fully alive in Christ’s spirit. Allow yourself to find hope in the midst of troubled times, and allow yourself, even if only for a few moments, to have an island of peace. Lean on us, and we’ll lean on you. That is abundance.
That is Christ’s creative work.