Thursday, November 29, 2012

View the Present Through the Promise

View the present through the promise, Christ will come again.
Trust despite the deepening darkness, Christ will come again.
Lift the world above its grieving through your watching and believing
in the hope past hope's conceiving: Christ will come again.

Probe the present with the promise, Christ will come again.
Let your daily actions witness, Christ will come again.
Let your loving and your giving and your justice and forgiving
be a sign to all the living: Christ will come again.

Match the present to the promise, Christ will come again.
Make this hope your guiding premise, Christ will come again.
Pattern all your calculating and the world you are creating
to the advent you are waiting: Christ will come again.

By Thomas H. Troeger,  © 1994 Oxford University Press, Inc.

This coming Sunday is the first in the Advent season.  In the midst of all the holiday hub-bub there remains a persistent sense of pessimism in many of the folks I know.  Admittedly, most of my friends and acquaintances are Republicans and they are probably still recovering from the results of the election.  But still, there is an undeniable sense of un-wellness in the air.  It’s not just the flu.

There is, of course, the so-called “fiscal cliff” our nation is facing if the Congress and President can’t come up with a plan before New Year’s Day.  I don’t lay odds, but even if they do find a way to avoid the “cliff” I don’t think we’ll solve our financial problems.  I think we are going to continue piling more and more debt on our grandkids’ backs.  We’re still in the Afghanistan quagmire.  I wonder how many more brave soldiers will be sacrificed in an unwinnable war.  Global warming (if you choose to subscribe) is still a factor in our world.  I heard a report yesterday that our Arctic ice was melting even faster than previously supposed.

Pornographers and pedophiles are still operating.  People are dehumanized through sexual slavery around the world today.  Murder still rocks the headlines in most major cities.  Hurricanes, tornados and earthqukes still happen.  Companies still treat their employees like tools and property to be leveraged and used.  Innocent children are still starving.  Justice still bows to power.  Still.

The world is broken, people, and it cries out to be “put to rights” (in NT Wright’s words):  “Up to the present, we know, the whole created universe groans in all its parts as if in the pangs of childbirth.” Romans 8:22 (NEB)

View the present through the promise:  Christ will come again.  Righteousness will prevail.  Justice will be served.  A new heaven and earth will be born.

Feeling yucky this season?  There is HOPE. 


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Hope of the World

I confess:  I’m a conservative Republican.  This morning I am disturbed by yesterday’s results that have Barak Obama reelected for a second term.  I am deeply dismayed that the majority of people in our nation have embraced a party and candidate that militantly defend a woman’s right to murder her baby and the abominable idea of homosexual marriage.  Though I do not buy the entire Republican rhetoric and platform, I believe that bigger government will not solve our problems but only make them worse.  I think our current fiscal policies will bankrupt us.  The Obama administration’s foreign policy, I believe, makes our nation less secure. 

All of this, except for the pro-life and marriage issues, is debatable among Christians along party lines.  I’m willing to grant that and understand there will be differences of opinion between God’s people.  I don’t see, however, how any Bible-believing Christian can support the so-called “pro-choice” and homosexual agenda that the Democratic Party aggressively promotes. 

How did we get here?  Read Robert Bork’s brilliant Slouching Towards Gomorrah for starters.  The mainstream media created Obama’s presidency and is primarily responsible for re-electing him.  It is not a level playing field.  Bork explains the reality of social engineering in his book as he documents liberalism’s progressive takeover of higher education, entertainment, and the media since the middle of the twentieth century.

These are critical days in which we live.  As difficult as they may be, we are privileged to live during this time.  We should learn that the kingdoms of this world and the Kingdom of God are not the same; they are not even complementary.  The Church has always compromised its divine mission when it allied itself with the world’s systems – whether it was the Holy Roman Empire that ruled Europe for over seven hundred years or the American evangelical alliance with the Republican Party that has marginalized our message for the last thirty years. Jesus told Pilate, the puppet ruler of perhaps the greatest superpower the world has ever known, “my kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).  He then defeated the evil powers that crucified him by his resurrection three days later.  As people who have been graciously invited into Christ’s kingdom, we must remember, “He made known the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” (Ephesians 1:9-10). 

I believe that we have the privilege and the obligation to be politically engaged as Christian citizens.  But being overcome by dismay is not living by faith.  Romney certainly isn’t Lord of all and neither is Obama.  America, regardless of what Reagan said, is not the hope of the world.  Only Jesus is Lord and his enterprise, the Church, offers the Hope this world needs. 

There are two kingdoms.  Only one of them is eternal.  Let our loyalty and our confidence rest there.