Archive for March, 2020
“Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).
Time and time again the Bible admonishes us to remember. However, the memories we are charged to recall aren’t snapshots frozen in time; captured like a photograph or transcript. We remember with the realization that it was from these moments that things went forward into a future that God’s people never imagined. Memories, then, are more about the future than the past. If memories were for the past alone then life would become a wasteful effort of recovering what once was. Instead, the sentiment and nostalgia of things past is but a reminder of the transient nature of the world in which we live; that even it’s best offerings are not permanent. The life of faith walks into a future of not knowing as a memorial bridge from a transient world to an eternal Kingdom where every sentiment and longing is fully realized.
“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).
If, by faith in Christ, my final destination is once and for all settled, then what happens after death is no longer something over which I should fret. The most important thing, between now and then, is the perspective by which I live each day. Only when the fear of death and final destination is removed from the preoccupation of one’s mind is it possible to live each day fully, and role-model for others a living hope and expectancy for a better tomorrow.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
Peter sees in the resurrection a confirmation of the efficacy and efficiency of the cross in the accomplishment of God’s redemptive purposes. We cannot place emphasis on one at the expense of the other; both are necessary to understand the “working out” of God’s saving mercies. When carrying the cross of our burdens, the resurrection affirms there is more of the story to be written.
“Therefore prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).
In Peter’s first epistle, hope resounds (1:3,21; 3:5,15). It is a mindset embraced by God’s people regardless of circumstances. When scripture speaks of hope it is not wishful thinking, such as when one hopes to do well in the job interview, or hopes to ace the test. In contrast, our hope is a confident expectation based upon both the person and work of Jesus Christ. Be hope-filled.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’” (John 14:6).
Life eventually gets you where the church has been trying to take you all along—to a place of considering the person of Jesus Christ as the only sustaining answer to the unrelenting crises of this life. In recent days, fear has been exposed, once again, as the most defining emotion of people’s lives. It reveals lives built upon the shifting sand; unable to withstand the storms. While Eastern Philosophy pursues the way of the Tao, Jesus says, “I am the Way.” Where Western philosophy thirsts for veritas, Jesus states, “I am the truth.” As all humanity longs for meaning and purpose, Jesus proclaims, “I am the life.” These particular times cannot be satisfactorily answered with a vaccine; only a particular person. He will inoculate you against all fear.
“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
With the declaration of the World Health Organization (WHO) that the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus is now a pandemic, there has seemingly been a corresponding pandemic of fear. Pandemic comes from the Greek prefix “pan” (all), and the root word “demos” (people). Thus, “all people” describes a global contagion. Death, however, is the only true pandemic that, without exception, will be experienced by every person. For the pandemics of fear and death there is no vaccine. In the midst of widespread panic and despair, only the life committed to a victorious Savior will have peace, confidence, hope, and assurance.
“The Lord is great in Zion, and He is exalted above all the peoples” (Psalms 99:2).
The Kingdom of God is not bound by geography, nationalism, people group, language, or denominational restraints. This universal nature of God has both missional and theological implications. Missionally, it forces us to embrace both the provincial and global implications of our task. Theologically, it provides an appropriate response to a popular and nuanced strain of theology that insists upon limiting the salvation of God to some but not others. His is a global society, accessible to all by faith.
“What He has seen and heard, of that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony” (John 3:32).
We must not allow secular measures of success to define the significance of a life lived in faithful service to the Father. The impact and influence of your life, and the cumulative effect of the little things you do in faithful obedience each day, is beyond earthly measure. Do not be discouraged. Remember that His is a crucified way. You are in good company with Him.
“In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid” (Psalm 56:4).
The smallest of things have a way of exposing our biggest fears and revealing our true sources of confidence. For the church it should be a given that Christ isn’t just the answer for eternal life; He is the means by which each day is fully lived.
“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:17-18).
The instructions for addressing sin within the community of faith (18:15-20), often raise the question, “Who are we to judge another?” The behavior confronted, however, isn’t something subjectively deemed as inappropriate; it is a clear and objective violation of what God, himself, has judged as sinful and is stated as such in scripture. The language of “binding” and “loosing” is an extension of the work of the Spirit. His presence is manifested in the world through his church (Revelation 1; Acts 9:4), and empowers the church to uphold the authority of scripture and act redemptively for the recovery of those who would wander from the fold.