Following on from Sunday's message, today's Bible reading is Colossians 1:13-14.
Tim Peake made history recently when he became the first British ESA astronaut to visit the international space station. On 15 December 2015 at 11:03am he took off on board the Soyuz TMA-19M en route to the International Space Station where he'll remain for 6 months performing experiments on behalf of researchers on Earth.
The weightlessness being experienced by Peake must be a strange and remarkable reality to get used to. I heard one commentator mention that astronauts new to the space station spend much of their time in the first few days losing things. Their belongings simply don't stay put any more, but instead seem to take on a life of their own floating away from wherever they're left. For this reason instruments have velcro on them in order to be easily stuck on to an astronaut's space suit. The simple fact is that in space different rules apply to those on Earth. In weightless conditions human beings need to learn to live by a new reality.
A similar dynamic is true for us as Christians. As followers of Jesus our identity has changed. We no longer live by the old identity and the old rules. Before we were believers we lived in the 'domain of darkness', whereas now we are in the 'kingdom of God's beloved Son.' Before, we were enemies of God whereas now we are friends and sons/daughters, coheirs with Christ and members of Christ's body. A similar relearning process needs to take place to that undergone by the astronauts.
This week we're considering the idea that we are rescued ones. Just as Tim Peake needed to be inside a vehicle for transportation out of gravity's reach and into weightlessness, so we needed rescuing out of darkness being unable to help ourselves. We could not and cannot save ourselves. Prior to becoming Christians we are bound by the power of satan, sin and death and there's nothing we can do about it. Powerless, we live separated from God under the restrictions of darkness's domain. And there's nothing we could ever do to get free from it. This is worth stating again; there's NOTHING we can do to get free by ourselves.
No amount of moral effort or energy and no amount of religious observances, of church attendance or fasting, can set us free from this domain. Any attempts to do so simply don't appreciate the severity of our condition. It's as foolish as thinking you can reach the moon by jumping off a high tower. In gravity's domain you need something more than hard work to break free. Gravity bound earthlings need a space craft to be free from its control and for those in the realm of darkness, a saviour is needed. A rescuer needed to come and, praise God, a rescuer has come. As Isaiah promised long ago 'On those living in a land of deep darkness, a light has come.'
Jesus came to rescue all those who are willing to admit that they need it. He has come to take us out of darkness and bring us into light. Today as you go about your day, remember - you needed rescuing, you could not save yourself and as such you need to remain humbly dependent upon the saviour. We never graduate beyond being a rescued one.
Scripture is an essential guide for helping us live in the good of our newfound rescue. It makes sense then, that we give ourselves to learning it and being shaped by it. Becoming familiar with truth doesn't happen accidentally. Spend this week reciting daily the following statements that relate to our identity in Christ:
In Christ I am God's child (John 1:12)
In Christ I belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:20)
In Christ I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self control (2 Timothy 1:7)
In Christ I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me (1 John 5:18)
In Christ I am holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4)
In Christ I am forgiven (Ephesians 1:8)
In Christ I am a saint (Col. 1:1)