Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Ephesians 5:14
A Man Came Down From Mount St. Helens and was “Resurrected”
It was March of 1980. Mount St. Helens was showing signs of an imminent eruption. Bryan Flora, a firefighter in Medford, Oregon was curious about the volcanic activity. His jeep wasn’t running at the time so he borrowed his father’s car and drove to the volcano in Washington. For months before the big eruption there were earthquakes and steam venting from the North face of the mountain. USGS scientists felt it was too dangerous for the general public and convinced the local authorities to close the area. So when Bryan arrived, a Skamania county sheriff was there to greet him. He was denied entry into the park. But Bryan knew the country. And the perimeter is so large it was impossible for law enforcement to cover it all. It wasn’t long before Bryan found a way in. He parked and hiked to the timberline where he spent the night. During his time on the mountain he could feel the earthquakes and hear the mountain making popping noises. But he managed to survive.
However the next day, toward the end of his hike back down, as he approached his vehicle, he saw two law enforcement officers at his car. They let him know they weren’t happy with him for entering the park, but they didn’t arrest him. So Bryan headed back to Oregon with just one stop to make on his way. He wanted to visit his grandmother in nearby Vancouver, Washington before continuing home.
When he arrived in Vancouver his grandmother was anything but welcoming. She was behaving strangely. Something wasn’t right. She wouldn’t speak to him. Bryan asked her what the problem was but she ignored his inquiries. After about forty minutes, she finally told him that he wasn’t alive, that he was a spirit. It wasn’t until much later Bryan finally learned why his grandmother thought he was a ghost. The Skamania county sheriff had reported his vehicle the day before his return. They contacted the owner, his father, and told him Bryan had died in a mudslide. For about one day, Bryan’s family thought he was dead.
It took some time for Bryan to convince his grandmother he was wasn’t a ghost, but living flesh and blood. To her–he was resurrected.
After Jesus was resurrected his disciples were also slow to believe he was living flesh and blood. The women who saw Jesus alive at his grave told them, but they didn’t believe. Then Cleopas and his friend who encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus told the disciples he was alive. But they still wouldn’t believe. Finally Jesus himself showed up in their midst, and they were startled and frightened, and they thought they saw a ghost.
But Jesus said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” (see Luke 24:36-49)
Zombies. They’re one of the most popular creatures on our screens: The Walking Dead, Zombie Massacre, Zombex, World War Z… This is one of the last posts in the Love Like Jesus series. A series that shows all the different ways Jesus loved people, and how you can love like Jesus. But without connection to the resurrected Christ you’re attempts to follow the wisdom in this series will come off like a zombie–like a zombie attempting to perform on Dancing With The Stars. This series was written with the death of your former life in mind. And the resurrection of yourself, to a new life, even as Jesus was resurrected.
Jason B. Hood, in his book Imitating God in Christ, wrote,
Believers normally think of resurrection as a hope for life beyond the grave. But resurrection life is not just relevant after death. Because believers are already united to and raised with the resurrected Messiah, they are participating in a new reality that radically changes their life before death even as it will one day change their life after death. (Ephesians 2:6, Colossians 2:12)
The only thing is, to experience what Hood is talking about, you have to connect with your resurrected savior. So many people are like the weeds that grow in and among a fruit bearing bush. They might look like they’re part of the bush. They might go to church. They might own a bible. They might profess to be Christian. But they’re not really connected with Jesus. Maybe they do those things because their wife wants them to, or to be with their friends, or because of cultural inertia. But it doesn’t matter if they do those things. What matters is the connection. If the weeds entwined with the fruit bearing vine aren’t connected, they won’t bear fruit. Ultimately, they’ll be tossed away and burned. (John 15:6)
Or maybe you’re a Christian who’s barely connected with your resurrected Savior. Maybe you’re like one of those branches partially broken off, just hanging on by the skin. You’re a believer but you don’t have a strong connection. You’re alive but not really flourishing. What will make a difference is a strong connection to Jesus. You need to connect with Jesus in an intimate way to bear fruit. If you want to love like Jesus loved, you have to abide in the vine. (John 15:1-5)
Nothing in the series on loving like Jesus will work without a strong connection with the living resurrected Christ.
So repent. Repent–it’s a word that simply means to change direction. So change direction. Stop trying to live life apart from Him. Stop trying to hide from your God, turn around and seek to connect with Him. Do that and the fruit will flow from your life.
Do that and His love will flow from your life.
Your connection with Christ is by far the most important part you play in your effort to love like Jesus.
In Jesus name.
“…apart from me you can do nothing.” -Jesus Christ, John 15:5
You might also like 7 Ways to Draw Closer to Christ.
[Image by courtney johnston – Creative Commons (not a photo of Bryan Flora)]