A Kingdom of Jesus People

The Story Continues

The first people, the Adam People, followed in the footsteps of their namesake. They bore within themselves the infection brought on by that original rebellion. Every part of their minds, bodies, souls, emotions, and desires were mangled by sin and death. Change seemed hopeless.

Until the second man appeared.

He had been arrested for crimes he hadn’t committed. Tried and convicted without due process. Executed as an enemy of the state.

All because he dared challenge the power of religious leaders and power brokers.

This man, Jesus of Nazareth, had warned his disciples that the day would come when he would no longer be with them. As he hung on that cross, they thought the day had arrived.

But then something glorious happened. He rose from the grave! And now he was standing before them on a hill just outside the city, instructing them in the ways of his kingdom.

He was leaving them, yes, ascending to the right hand of the Father in heaven. But he was not leaving them alone. A Helper, his own Holy Spirit, would come to them and lead them as they proclaimed the good news of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ-King promised long ago. They would be his Kingdom ambassadors and the Holy Spirit would empower them in their task.

Not long after Jesus ascended, the Holy Spirit did come. He filled the disciples and they all, men and women alike, celebrated the gift God had given them.

They felt alive like never before.

Those men and women, the first ones to be indwelt with the Spirit of Christ, didn’t know until later what the Spirit had actually done. They had a sense of it, sure, but it would take time for the truth to be revealed.

They weren’t the same people anymore.

The old self had died. Someone new, someone Spiritual, was standing in their place.

They weren’t Adam people.

They were Jesus people.

The Holy Spirit hadn’t just filled them with joy and given them a message to share. Something more powerful yet nearly imperceptible had taken place.

Jesus had lived a perfect life. He had never sinned, never uttered a crass word or failed to take a thought captive. He was righteous where Adam had failed. He had even defeated the ancient serpent that had tricked Adam and Eve back in the garden.

And now the Holy Spirit was taking what Jesus had accomplished, the righteousness that rightfully belonged to Christ, and was applying it to everyone who believed.

The Spirit was making dead sinners into living saints.

Jesus people.

No longer were they slaves to sin. They were free! They had been transferred from the domain of darkness into the Kingdom of the Beloved Son! Their flesh no longer ruled them; Jesus was their new King!

The Holy Spirit Creates Jesus People

This work of the Spirit isn’t limited to the first century. He does the same thing for all who have sworn allegiance to the King throughout the ages. He unites us to Jesus in his death and then gives us Christ’s resurrection life. He declares us righteous before the Father who then adopts us as his children.

This incredible story is yours and mine. We are no longer Adam people under the wicked rule of sin and death, but forgiven and alive to Christ.

We are Jesus people, set apart for the work of the Kingdom. And we are called to live out this truth.

It is easy for us to forget that we’re not who we used to be. At least it’s easy for me to forget. More than I’d like to admit, I return to the corpse of Adam-Marcos and play dead.

But the truth is that Adam-Marcos is dead. And Jesus-Marcos is alive. I’m a new creation, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that he has set aside for me.

When the Apostle Paul was writing to the church in Rome, he reminded them of The Story of Two Men. He taught them that this story was true and they were to live that way!

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his,” Paul reminded the Romans, “we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

Jesus had ascended to the Father after his resurrection. One day we, too, will be raised from the dead and be reunited with Christ.

But resurrection isn’t only a future promise. It’s a present reality.

Paul continues, “You also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

This is our new state of existence. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.

We are alive in Christ!

And because all of this is true, Paul says, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.”

Brothers and sisters, we have been raised with Christ. Let’s live like it! Let us lay aside every burden that would hinder us as we follow in the way of Christ.

This is difficult to do. It requires a total surrender to the way of God. To be a citizen of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, an adopted co-heir with our King, is to live differently than the rest of the world.

The Kingdom Life of Jesus People

I didn’t write this story out and rehearse the Gospel just because I felt like it (although we should daily remind ourselves of what God has done for us in Christ). I wrote this out because this is the foundation for everything I believe and every stance I take.

Sometimes I write about political things. Controversial things. I take positions that many of you may disagree with or find unpopular.

I don’t do it to be a contrarian or a political activist. I do it because to be a Jesus Person means to regularly turn our hearts away from our dead way of life toward the way of Christ.

Perhaps Oscar Romero said it best:

“The other day a priest told me that a man wanted to go to confession who hadn’t done so for forty years. He said he wanted to be converted, as he had heard about here in the cathedral.

“When they say I preach political matters, Irefer to these testimonies of conversion to God. That is what I seek: conversion to God. If I point to political matters here, it is often because of the corruption of political affairs, so that those whom God loves even when they are mired in sin may be converted too.”

Our task as Jesus People, as ambassadors of Christ’s Kingdom, is to call people to conversion. We want them to be saved!

How can we save souls if we ignore the plight of the body? How can we call people to freedom all the while downplaying their oppression? How can we speak of the Joy of Christ and ignore the cries of the poor and downtrodden?

We are a Jesus people. Let’s live like it. Let’s confront sin — both personal and systemic — with the love of Jesus Christ. Let’s preach a Gospel that ministers to whole people, body and soul.

There are many Adam People who are still trapped by sin and death. We Jesus People have been entrusted with the Gospel of forgiveness and life.

Help us, Holy Spirit, to share that message with the world.

Marcos Ortega

Marcos Ortega (MDiv, Westminster Theological Seminary) is an Assistant Pastor at Goodwill Church (Evangelical Presbyterian Church) and lives in the Hudson River Valley in New York with his wife and two daughters.

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