Friday, December 2, 2016

The Heresy of Political Salvation

To hear many professing Christians tell it, we have been saved by the election. This is an old heresy, as old, at least, as the Tower of Babel. We have many arguments to support our contention of salvation in political victories and agendas, but all fall short of the Gospel and the glory of God. The Scriptures starkly declare that the governments and leaders of this world are in rebellion (Psalms Two), and yet many of us are immersed in political and economic agendas that take precedence over the Gospel, we are more passionate about politics than we are about Jesus – how can this be? We cannot distinguish between our nation and the Kingdom of God – how can this be?

While God tells us that the kingdoms of this world will be brought to nothing (Daniel Two), we insist on making our own nation the exception, we insist on glossing over and denying our sinfulness. While we are not the first, perhaps we are the best at teaching the world that money matters above all things, that character is a concept for fools.

Yes, the world is what the world is, but when professing Christians assume the garb of the world and make the agendas of the world a substitute for the Gospel – then we are no longer faithful to our husband, the husband of the church, Jesus Christ. We can’t witness to others about Jesus but we have no problem witnessing to others about our political viewpoints – how can this be?

In my reading of Bethge’s biography of Bonhoeffer I have been struck by the political pragmatism of the church, both within and without Germany, that Bonhoeffer stood against. There was pragmatic argument after argument made by his contemporaries on why Bonhoeffer was not being realistic in his insistence on a faithful witness to the Gospel – “compromise” was the watchword for most of the church. Few were the church leaders who spoke a prophetic word to their congregations – for the rest, their salaries were more important, their positions more critical…they found no reason to suffer for the Gospel – Bonhoeffer was unrealistic.

The church in our nation needs to know that looking for salvation in a political party or agenda is heresy. We need to be ashamed that we will seek political converts but not sons and daughters for Jesus Christ. Conversely, those who now have anxiety over the economic and political climate need to be told to place their lives in the hands of Jesus Christ – that salvation lies no more in those who lost the election than in those who won.

And finally, at least for this piece, we need to unplug the 24/7 media and learn to meditate in the Word of Lord both day and night – the incessant barrage of media, whether from the right or left or center can breed nothing but fear and anxiety and pride and arrogance; we cannot help our generation if we are wallowing in the mire of our generation.

Let others know us as people of Jesus Christ and His Gospel; as people belonging to the Kingdom of God. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Tabernacle of God

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth,” John 1:14.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,’ ” Revelation 21:3.

“…Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit,” Ephesians 2:20b – 22.

Between John 1:14 and Revelation 21:3 we live in Ephesians 2:20 – 22. The Son came to bring many sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10), the Cornerstone came to make us living stones in Him, the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us so that He might tabernacle within us (John 14:23; 17:20 – 26). Advent is progressively rooted in history, in time and space – but then stretching beyond time and space into ages past, through the corridors of time, and into the ages to come. The Seed planted in Bethlehem, that fell into the ground to die on Good Friday, is the Seed that on Easter came out of the earth bearing a new creation, a new family – the Last Adam went into the ground, the Second Man arose from the dead.

Advent is more than an external observance, it is an internal reality for those in relationship with Jesus Christ. This internal reality is a shared reality, it is the reality of koinonia in the Trinity with one another – it is the reality of being built together as living stones to form a dwelling of God in the Spirit. The mystery of the Incarnation is the mystery of our life in Christ. God walked the earth as Jesus of Nazareth, He now walks the earth in His People. We are the Body of Jesus Christ, He is the Head (Ephesians 4:14 – 16).

One stone does not make a temple, and one leg or arm or eye or toe or kidney does not make a body.

Let us not just celebrate Advent, let us observe Advent with one another throughout this pilgrimage – let us allow Advent to continue in us and through us – let us learn to be the people of an ever-unfolding Advent in Jesus Christ.