There’s No Such Thing as Good People (My Redeemer Lives 6:3)

When was the last funeral you went to? When was the last time you have been connected enough to a loss to contemplate it within your church community, with your co-workers, your family, or friends from across the street?

There is a phrase I have noticed crop up, either as a new response to loss or an old one I just never paid much attention to:

“They were such a good person!”

You don’t have to lose someone to hear this phrase, or use it for that matter. We throw it about when talking idly about people in our lives. I think we want a way to honor them, honor goodness in a world that holds far too little of it. It is important for us to honor one another, yes, but we also need to be careful not to honor people so much that we miss the God who is at work in their stories.

Resurrection reality: There are no good people.

Today, I want us to look through the very faint goodness found in people, to see the actual goodness of Resurrection.

It would be easy to read Tabitha’s story in Acts 9:32-42, and get lost in the goodness factor. Read through that segment of Scripture below and take note of anything you read that would maybe cause you to say, “Tabitha was a good person!” —

32 Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. 34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. 35 And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. 36 Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” 39 So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.

Notice Acts 9:39 in particular. Can you see how one might get easily distracted by the women weeping and showing the garments Tabitha lovingly wove for them? When has someone made something for you by hand? When has someone noticed your need?

It is a beautiful gift to use our talents to care for others, to encourage others, but that isn’t the real goodness we find in the account. Read the passage above again, Acts 9:32-43. This time listen for the heartache, listen for words that celebrate community and recognize the loss of one of their own.

“…while she was with them.” (Acts 9:39b)

What a powerful phrase tacked onto the end of Acts 9:39. All these women standing around, sharing with Peter and sharing together the loss of a friend, a leader, a woman of influence in their lives. Her clothing wasn’t just clothing. God uses small things like clothing to remind these women, through Tabitha’s hands, that they are valued in Christ Jesus. That he wants warmth for them, lasting spiritual warmth, not only clothes-on-their-back warmth.

Tabitha might have made coats or everyday garments for the women to wear, and some of it may have been undergarments, which strikes me as deeply personal. I’m thinking of the Undies for Everyone campaign or the socks and underwear collected alongside backpacks for a back-to-school gift for someone. This is God at work in Tabitha. It’s always His Spirit at work when anyone asks, “Who needs underwear today?” We just aren’t capable of such goodness.

I know we want to believe in some basic goodness to humans, but I think when you look around enough, you’ll see the truth that goodness is only found in our God in us. Go back to Act 9:40-42 —

But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.

Acts 9:42 tells the rest of the story — many believed signifies that real goodness points to the Lord, not to people.

Tabitha, Peter, those widows — they were God’s people, not good people.

Today, we can praise the Lord not for goodness in this world, but for the reality of Christ’s Resurrection lived out in us as we walk along each of our paths.

God’s people, bringing His goodness, His grace, and His glory…one pair of underwear, one hug, one listening ear at a time.

In the comments share with us one story of someone living the resurrected life and making yours a little brighter.

We may not be good people, but we are God’s people….in this life together.

Where do you see God’s Resurrection goodness shining through in tangible ways?

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Resources:

http://biblehub.com/greek/5509.htm

https://www.undiesforeveryone.org

Beating Our Breasts (My Redeemer Lives 6:1)

Warning: There is a fair amount of heartache when you set out to study resurrection.

That would have been useful information in Week One of our study, huh? 😉 Sorry about that.

Just like most things in life, you can’t get to the good stuff, the really good stuff, without walking through the valley first.

(Heavy sigh.)

What are those valleys of life? What are those heartaches that we may not be thinking of because they aren’t ours? Let’s learn from each other. Please share in the comments any heartache you have walked through (vaguely or specifically) or any that you have walked with a friend through (without breaking confidence).

God always gives us more— when the Spirit makes us aware of the heartaches of this life, we can see the Hope.

I’m reminded of our friend Job, the proclaimer of our theme verse for this study, Job 19:25-27:

For I know that my Redeemer lives,

    and at the last he will stand upon the earth.

And after my skin has been thus destroyed,

    yet in my flesh I shall see God,

whom I shall see for myself,

    and my eyes shall behold, and not another.

    My heart faints within me!

Hope is no small thing.

Heartache to Hope is our theme, this week and in life.

God gives us strange ways to see hope at times, doesn’t He?

Let’s look at Luke 23:48-49 to see some hope, not just after the heartache, but in it. Please read those verses below:

48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

If you look around Luke 23 for context, you’ll find the spectacle referenced in Luke 23:48.

There is heartache, then there’s heartache and more heartache.

Maybe you’ve been there — where the heartache heaps on. I know Job had been. What turned the tide here in Luke? What made the crowd look around them and switch from mocking and jeering and gawking to beating their breasts?

Luke 23:46-47

46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!”

Sometimes we look around at life and it’s just so painfully obvious — school shooting obvious, grief that has no words obvious, not the way you thought life would look obvious.

This centurion, a Roman, for all intents and purposes to the people surrounding him the enemy, or an outsider at the very least, points to the truth of life that the leaders, the teachers, the scribes, their neighbors had failed to show them and they had failed to see for themselves —

Earthly justice failed.

Jesus was innocent and they killed Him.

For the people beating their breasts, I’m pretty sure they bore the weight of this failure personally. It would be impossible not to. This heartache wasn’t about some guy named Jesus. Because He is the Savior of the World, this heartache — Jesus shaped heartache — whether we cognitively know it or not, acknowledge it or not, will always be personal.

There is no reason, friend, to ever go through heartache turned away from Jesus. It’s too much…way too much. Beat your breast, but turn in. Read Luke 23:48 for the truth about turning in instead of turning away —

And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts.

They turned toward home. Here’s a spiritual Truth that makes all the difference —

Jesus is home.

Jesus as fully God and fully man, resurrected, glorified, holds everything we need. He holds safety and comfort and is truly the place we ground ourselves in this life. 

When we walk through heartache, turn toward Home.

When we walk someone else through heartache, turn toward Home.

That’s the Hope. That’s where Hope lives: in Jesus Christ. He is our heart and He is our Home.

He is our Hope.

How do you remind yourself and others to turn toward Jesus as home, healer, and hope, especially in the midst of the journey?

Heartache to Hope – in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.

You can download this Scripture card and one for every day of the week at PureJoyCreative.com.

Don’t forget this week’s Bible margin to help you reflect as you study.

Join the discussion by sharing your thoughts and insights in the comments here and on social media.

Catch the week six video here:

Derision, Desire, Deliverance

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His Name is Resurrection (My Redeemer Lives 5:1)

About a year ago, I wrapped up a bright green onesie to send to a friend.

When I say bright green, I mean bright green. It was the color of a green M&M, the color of baby fresh grass with a whisper of dew. It was the color of life.

Then a few weeks later, life stopped. My friend texted and said that our sweet baby boy had died. She delivered a 9 lb, 9 oz beautiful baby boy, who would never breath our fresh air, never get first teeth, never learn to wobble walk in the way that toddlers do. It was painful and hard.

And all I could think about was that silly onesie. I felt like a terrible person, sending bright green where there should only be black. Thankfully, my friend felt differently. She saw life and I sometimes wonder if that’s why this was her road and not my own. God gave her the ability to look in and see fresh, green, and life in Jesus, where I had missed it.

Sebastian’s funeral was a tear-filled celebration of LIFE! Gen and Geof and their endearing and bold pastor collective made sure of it.

Because we are people of the resurrection.

Jesus’ very name is Resurrection.

To grasp the meaning wrapped in this, let’s read John 11 in its entirety. It’s a long one, but it is 57 verses of death-to-life, waiting-to-fulfillment awesomeness that we would not want to miss. Read first and then move through some of the highlights with me below.

“Lord, he whom you love is ill.” (John 11:3) 

Jesus loves. In a story of death, sometimes this is the easiest thing to lose sight of. Jesus loved Lazarus as a child of God, and He loved him deeply as a friend. John 15:15 tells us that we are also called friend, by Jesus. Jesus loves.

But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4) 

Is it possible that God sees things differently than we do? Yes, of course it is, but it’s hard to focus on that when you’re struggling with loss. We need friends to remind us that Jesus seems to skip over the reality of death entirely here. As believers, we live in a reality that my friend Genevieve understood with sweet Sebastian more than I was ready to recognize. Death is nothingness to believers. The saying may go, “Life sucks and then you die.” For believers, the saying is more appropriately, “Life sucks and then…resurrection!” All roads lead to glory for the believers of Christ Jesus. In my loss, in each of our losses, the end result is always glory to the Savior of the World. We wouldn’t flippantly gloss over someone’s loss, of course not. Jesus doesn’t do that either. He recognizes truth with His statement in John 11:4, and then we see Jesus moved to tears in John 11:34-35, physical weeping alongside His brothers and sisters in Christ.

So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. (John 11:6) 

Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. (John 11:17)

Two days, four days, even 20 minutes can seem like an eternity in loss. The thing that sticks out most for me in the account of Lazarus’s resurrection is all the waiting. Mary and Martha waited for Jesus, who stayed two days longer after being told of Lazarus’s illness. The sisters had to endure waiting to see what would happen with Lazarus’s illness. Lazarus had to wait and endure his own illness. Even after Lazarus died, the sisters waited four days for Jesus to arrive on the scene.

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. (John 11:21)

More waiting…these women who followed Jesus knew He held the power of life and death. When you know God can do something and He chooses not to, that feels hard and the waiting can easily be filled with what feels like harsh air and anger. In John 11:24 Martha attests that she knows all about the resurrection of the dead on the last day, that she never questioned it; what she questioned was God’s way of going about it for her brother. Isn’t this so often the case for us? We trust in God’s overall plan, but wonder why we fit in the way we do and what that means for His goodness and His love for us.

When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” (John 11:43)

Notice that I skipped John 11:25-42– eighteen verses of waiting. God rarely has instant answers and resurrection is the same. All the good stuff comes in its time, in His time. When we are stuck with waiting in the meantime, we can rest in John 11:25:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live…”

Yes. He is the Resurrection and the Life. We live outside of what we can understand and know sometimes, and death especially is what we do not know and hard to understand. Sebastian is missed by many of us here on this earth. We would rather have seen him crawl, listened to his babble, and corrected his schoolwork, but Jesus’ name is Resurrection and Life. Green is the perfect color for that little man. He knows Life in a way that we can only imagine and we have been called to wait. His Savior is our Savior.

Jesus is Resurrection itself. He is Life itself.

He is all things good and right. Sometimes that’s all the truth we have to share and the rest we lay at His feet…and wait.

You can download this Scripture card and one for every day of the week at PureJoyCreative.com.

Don’t forget this week’s Bible margin to help you reflect as you study.

Join the discussion by sharing your thoughts and insights in the comments here and on social media.

Catch the week five video here:

Prophecies Can’t Get Much Cooler: Prophecy and Resurrection

Downloadable Video Viewer Guide