The Pain, the Promise, and the Panther
6 And He raised us up together with Him [when we believed], and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, [because we are] in Christ Jesus, 7 [and He did this] so that in the ages to come He might [clearly] show the immeasurable and unsurpassed riches of His grace in [His] kindness toward us in Christ Jesus [by providing for our redemption]. (Ephesians 2:6-7, AMP)
The notion of “walk in the promise, not in the pain” that I shared with you in my last blog is still with me. If you had the chance to read it, I hope that it encouraged you to find rest in the promises of God during this trying season. If you did not read it, I invite you to do so. It may be the encouragement you need for today. However, the more I stay in the presence of God, asking questions as usual, I am realizing there is so much more to this apparently simple statement than what initially met my eye. Perhaps that’s why I’ve had such persistent, nagging thoughts about it. The death of Chadwick Boseman gave me an unexpected moment of clarity like nothing I had considered. I will share more on that a little later.
I hope that I can articulate this insight with clarity and that in doing so, it will give you the unction to know your identity in Christ and walk confidently in it, even in times of turmoil. Let’s start at the beginning. What is our pain? Our pain is anything that is causing us a level of stress, discontent, or distraction. Right now, that could be sending your children back to school or having to home school them. Loss of a job and or lack of medical insurance. Sickness. Fear of contracting COVID19. Racial strife. Diminishing mental health. Hyper-vigilance. Political unrest and any number of personal demands. All these things can send us into the tailspin of worry and cause us to become distracted, apathetic, and/or cynical. Unfortunately, this is the pain of our humanity. In every season, in every era there is something to jolt us. Death, sickness, pandemics, recessions, and depression are nothing new. These are some of the things that life is made of and one thing is certain, none of us escape life without some hardship. Sometimes hardships are of our own doing and the result of poor choices. At other times hardships come unexpectedly and unannounced. They come without our comprehension or permission and are out of our control, like pandemics.
Regardless of the pain or its source, God’s promise is so much more enduring. You see our pain is temporary, but our promise is eternal. Why? Because the promise is wrapped up in the God who is not only faithful, but who also cannot lie. To walk in or to take hold of the promise, we must first come to know our true identity. The Bible says that we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus. We are heirs to the kingdom. We are the righteousness of God. We are children of God, a royal priesthood, a chosen generation. We are new creations and have citizenship in heaven. We have also been raised together with Christ and seated in heavenly places. I think when we read these things, we are convinced that they are some ethereal mumbo jumbo; but if we lay hold of these truths, they have the potential to transform our lives in dynamic ways. Romans 8:11 lets us know that the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is alive and living in us. Of course, I’m paraphrasing but please read it for yourselves in context. That means that believers live in union (united) with Christ.
To live in union with Christ means that we have been vested with three distinct attributes.
1. Dominion is the right to govern and control a territory.
“Then God said, “Let us make man [mankind] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Gen. 1:26, ESV).
2. Authority is the ability to adjudicate, settle issues, command, or determine.
“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.” (Luke 10:19, ESV).
3. Power is the capacity to do or act.
“ and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,” (Ephesians 1:19-20).
Taken together, this suggests that we can impact the earth realm with kingdom reality. You see, we are not striving to get to the kingdom of God, Ephesians 2:6 let us know that we are (already) seated in the heavenlies with Christ. So, we have been empowered to rise above the pain of the earth realm. Not that we do not feel the turmoil and darkness, rather, we choose not to dwell in it. At least not for long because when we operate in the dominion, authority and power we have been given, we have the ability to constantly renew our minds and therefore, can operate from our seats.
Since we are united into the life of Christ and seated (already) in heavenly places. We are not striving to get to heaven. We are not performing to get to heaven. Instead, we are empowered to live on earth. We are walking out and working out our sanctification. In the earth realm there will be challenges, distractions, and defeats. We must deal with the problems and issues of our temporary, earthly abode; but we do not have to become absorbed and weighed down by them. We can elevate our mindsets, by choosing to change our thinking so we do not lose sight of our heavenly identity. Essentially, we do not fight to win; we have already won. We fight to keep the enemy at bay because Satan’s goal is to distract us from purpose and distort our identities.
So, back to Chadwick Boseman. Chadwick Boseman lived in two realms. He lived in the physical realm of sickness and the spiritual realm of purpose. Every day he had two choices. To die with cancer or live with purpose. I am certain there were days when sickness won, simply because of its debilitating nature. However, it seems he most often chose the latter. Like him, we also have a choice. To die (or exist) in the pain of our current world and personal circumstances or to live into the promises of God. Every day we get to choose which identity we will operate from.
We must be intentional about embracing our heavenly (spiritual) identity and operating from our heavenly seat. If not, we choose to embrace our earthly (carnal) identity and be misguided by our pain. While I do not think we can do it perfectly, I believe that we can live above our emotions and transform into the thinking of God. After all, we do possess the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). We have all we need to impact our sphere of influence with power, dominion, and authority.