Archive for June 2011

This world is not my home… or is it?   Leave a comment

As I mentioned in my two previous blogs I am currently reading “ Surprised By Hope” by N T Wright and it continues to make me think deeply about my perspectives on our future hope. Right from the outset Dr Wright suggests that our thinking about what he calls “life after life after death” has, over time, become deeply flawed. The theology reflected in many of our hymns and songs, (for example the one I used in title of this article) does not reflect the teaching of scripture or the preaching of the early church. He says

Frankly what we have at the moment isn’t, as old liturgies used to say” the sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead” but a vague and fuzzy optimism that somehow things will work out in the end… If we are not careful, we will offer a “hope” that is no longer a surprise, no longer able to transform lives and communities in the present, no longer generated by the resurrection of Jesus himself and looking forward to the promised new heavens and new earth”

Wright suggests that scripture indicates that this world will indeed be our home for eternity. It will be a restored, renewed, and redeemed but that Gods commitment to the world He created and “saw that it was good” is unwavering and his plan culminates in its restoration not its destruction.

Why is this important? Because it adjusts our focus in everything we do.  Everything we do becomes working for the kingdom that will come right here on earth.  Our care of the planet, the art and music we produce, the people we reach out to, the kingdom starts now in a very real sense for those who follow Jesus. Wright puts it like this

“ The work we do at present, then, gains its full significance from the eventual design in which it was meant to belong. Applied to the mission of the church, this means that we must work in the present for the advance signs of that eventual state of affairs when God is “all in all”, when His kingdom has come and His will is “done on earth as it is in heaven.” This will of course be radically different form the kind of work we would engage in if our sole task was to save souls for a disembodied heaven or simply help people enjoy a fulfilling relationship with God as though it was the end of the matter”

I have become convinced that my thinking on our future hope has become what Wright describes as “vague and fuzzy”. As a consequence I run the risk of devaluing the significance to God’s Kingdom of every action we take here on earth. It becomes more and more apparent to me that to live and preach whole life transformation is imperative. Then and only then, as God transforms us, can we play a full part in intentionally accomplishing things that are significant for the kingdom that will come.

 

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Posted June 15, 2011 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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Think again   Leave a comment

At the outset of the series we finished recently, Why Believe, we talked about principles that had followed us right the way through the series. First we saw that we all believe in some things that we cannot prove. That the sun will rise tomorrow and that we are loved are just two examples! Most if not all of the subjects we considered had aspects to believing them which could not be proved in the literal sense of the word. There is no (unarguable) proof for the existence of God or for that matter that He does not exist. Whereas there is clear historical support for the existence of a man called Jesus, no such evidence exists for the suggestion that he was the Son of God. However in those places where categorical proof does not exist we are not condemned to step out in blind faith checking our brains at the door. There is evidence and the evidence points us in certain directions and our task is to examine that evidence and follow its directions. Lee Strobel in his book The Case for Christ says “ Faith is a reasonable step along the path that the evidence points

Returning to the realization that- we all believed something- we also noted that, if we are wise, we are willing, on occasions, to review those beliefs in the light of the information we receive. I discovered just this truth as I prepared to speak about heaven. It was not that I did not believe in heaven but I discovered I believed very little about it simply because I had not given it much thought. As I explained in my previous blog God turned my thinking upside down to see that the hope of a bodily resurrection and participation in the New Heaven and New Earth (Rev 21:1-5… Go on read it again and get excited about it!!) makes sense of everything. This is the foundation of the hope we can share with the world. It was a shock to identify how lame my belief was, but so exciting to recognize the need to make adjustments reflecting the teaching of scripture (with some help from the writing of N T Wright “Surprised by Hope”!)

So tell me, what beliefs have you reviewed lately and did you make and changes or adjustments?

PS If you missed any of the Why Believe series or just would like to do some more thinking about what you believe, The Starting Point groups are a wonderful way to examine or re-examine fundamental beliefs with a small group of others. Sign up here and we will be sure to tell you about the start of the next group.

Posted June 7, 2011 by jolm15 in Uncategorized