I Know My Redeemer Lives

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For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth--Job 19:25

What does it mean to be redeemed? How often have I really considered the depth of the word, and yet paid no attention to what it really meant? How often have I heard the word. Sometimes in various masses one will hear the trinity expressed as "Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier" (a poor expression at best--for where does the creator leave off and the redeemer begin--attempting to define the persons by their functions is doomed to failure as all of the functions belong in greater or lesser degree to all three persons.). We know that we have been redeemed through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. But what does that mean.

I was thinking through this yesterday and came to no startling conclusions, no brilliant summary; however, here are some thoughts. A redeemer redeems or buys back. Through our sins we "sell ourselves." Think about prior times--when one could not afford to pay one's debts, one was cast into debtors prison (hardly an efficacious way to get one's money back, nevertheless, it was done.) We are in debtors prison, sold for a moment's pleasure to the enemy. A redeemer buys back the bond. He purchases what was sold. If difficult times have come, one might sell something to a pawn shop. If afterwards prosperity returns, one might return to the shop and redeem the merchandise.

So the death of Jesus has done for us, should we choose to accept the pledge. Jesus purchased us back from the depths of imprisonment to sin, self, and Satan. We were lost in the world and He purchased for us a way to heaven. But the way does come with some strings attached. We are not our own. If we accept redemption, then we become the "property" of the redeemer. We are His servants, purchased to do His work now and always. We cannot be redeemed and attempt to keep practicing our old ways. Redemption means we do not serve our prior masters, but rather all of our effort goes to serving Him. There is something in this that is frightening. I am not my own, I am at the service of another. I am under obligation.

What does the obligation of redemption entail? I must do Christ's work in this world and in the world to come. Sometimes this requirement threatens to overwhelm me. I have to work for God and still earn my own living and support my family. The truth of the matter is that working for God is a very, very light burden. For one thing, He does most of the work. I merely need drag my carcass to the right place and He provides the words and the music. At Mass, He is my joy, in the presence of the believers, He is my wisdom and my charity, in the presence of the unbelievers He is my joy, my witness, and my truth. In sum He is all in all and He does all that need be done if I simply step out of the way.

There's the trick--stepping out of the way. Too often I want to be recognized for what I am doing. I want the world to know me and see me and speak to me. When I work, I want payment in currency the world can understand--money, fame, glory, happiness. When these things do not happen, when I do not feel some sort of rush because I have done God's work, I am disappointed. Surely, I am supposed to "feel" something as a result of serving God, am I not?

Feelings do not enter the equation. We can serve God with all our hearts our whole lives and never feel for a single instant stirred beyond the ordinary. Or we can spend our entire lives in ecstasies of service and of knowledge of God. That is God's choice. But my choice is simply to accept redemption and work for the Lord, or to continue to haul the incredible burden I have taken on myself.

Rejecting redemption is hauling a sledge through mud. Once the sledge is sufficiently heavy all I will accomplish is further miring. When I choose to follow myself and my own ways, I doom myself, I am destroyed every day. When I choose redemption, however, I am choosing to give myself up completely—every day is new life. There is no middle ground. "Who sets hand to plow and looks back is not worthy of the kingdom." Redemption is about service. Properly viewed, redemption is also about all-encompassing love. We should be delighted, joyful, and thankful that we have so merciful a God. Redemption is about joy. We take on a new master and shed the grief and the turmoil of the old. Redemption is shedding what is worn with care and worry and putting on what is bright and always new. No doubt, we will have moments when we look back and even actively seek a return to the "fleshpots of Egypt." However, when that happens, I will remember the experience of serving the Lord and the lightness of His burden. Once I have entered redemption, it will be very hard to forget the joys of that state.

So, I know my redeemer lives, and His life is my life. His needs are my service. My duty is to become more and more like Him so that when someone looks at me, they see my Redeemer--Jesus Christ, and they know Him for their own. My redeemer transforms me and in so doing, I am called to become Him and transform the world around me. That also is why sin is so sad a state, our service is rendered fruitless and those who see us are not led to the Lord. If my Redeemer lives (and He does) it is my duty through my life, my work, and my words to make Him known to all the world. When people recall anything I have said or written, it is better that they forget who I am and hear and recall only to Whom they are called. I must decrease so that He might increase, but my decrease is paradoxically and increase beyond all bounds. I grow more powerful in my decrease than I ever was in my ascendancy because I grow into the likeness of my redeemer.

I know my Redeemer lives, and so I should make it known to others. My joy should be the sign that always points to Him and my life should be such as to call all to His throneroom.

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Blogworthies LXIII from The Blog from the Core on April 23, 2005 7:15 AM

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It's funny that you should write about "my redeemer lives" ... I was really hit between the eyes by that when we were singing after Mass yesterday ... I can't distill what it makes me feel into words but I have NEVER connected with that phrase like I did then and what you say is what I feel ... His life is my life.

Thanks for carrying on the theme for another day ... somehow those words have become so precious and you reminded me of it.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on April 18, 2005 7:12 AM.

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