Sunday, December 25, 2005

Look back, look forward...

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works." (Titus 2v11-14)
What do we have to show for 2005? What has the year been like? Is it simply another year on the treadmill? Is all of life ultimately futile? We could be tempted to think so. Can there be more? Let there be a resounding "yes!" Futility is a way of life open to humanity, if we will ignore the judgement of God and try to live under the sun, under our own rule (try Ecclesiastes for some light festive reading). Such futility is not inevitable. Life doesn't have to be this way!

There are two places we must look,. Firstly, back two thousand years to the birth of Jesus - at that point in history grace appeared. Jesus Christ, truth incarnate bring an offer of salvation for anyone who will accept it. A rescuer offering us an alternative to futility. Our former life of separation, of loneliness, of meaninglessness can be replaced. An offer extending to all kinds of people, the good, the bad and the ugly. A resuce that includes an invitation to become part of a new community - a community where there is relationship, where gluttony is replaced by self-control, emptiness by joy.

This isn't just a lifestyle choice to fend off futility. This a way of life, waiting for another appearing. A second place to look. Life centred up the gracious and glorious Jesus Christ. Life waiting not for nothingness, but waiting for Jesus to return. Waiting for glory to appear. Our lives matter because they are lived in the light of the past and the future. He will come to take his people for himself. For those who claim to have recognised his first appearing there is a charge to be his people, changed in character from what we were previously.

If we miss his first appearing and its command to us we'll surely not be ready for his second. God has not left us in the dark, he has revealed himself. All the tragedies and celebrations of 2005 are overshadowed by the two appearings of Jesus Christ. One in the past, one to come. Both speak to us in the present. Not calling us to self-reformation and new years resolutions. No, Jesus stood in our place on death row so that we could be rescued by him. So that we could be called into a new life, in a new community, with a new future. Look back to when grace appeared, look forward to when glory will appear.

Happy Christmas! - blogging resumes here in 2006.

4 comments:

  1. Dave,
    Many thanks for all your entries over the year.
    May you and your family have a restful Christmas and I look forward to reading more of your blog in 06!

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  2. Brilliant post!

    Merry Christmas, and may our new year bring more love for the glory of God, thankfulness for his grace, and longing for his rule to come.

    Got to love the truth!

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  3. Dave,

    We need to do more than merely having a new perspective, although this is where many movements and revolutions have started - through embracing or rejecting new perspectives and ideas. So looking forward and backward to the reality of salvation is important. But what about the NOW?

    Spiritual revolution, the type that surpasses that goodness of the pharisees, starts with your heart, with your heart NOW. Not your heart back then 2000 years ago, but right now as your eyes scan the word NOW. And not in the future when we are in God's mercy transformed and given all that we've been promised.

    The Christian Church is going to be very different in 10 years time. What will your role be in that?

    The two great needs that all Christians must set themselves to achieving this next year are 1. to better understand what spiritual transformation in Christ actually is and to enter into that more fully and to help others to enter into it. 2. To become more interested in learning how to defend and communicate their faith to thinking people.

    "The Christian community as a whole has yet to mount an effective answer to the challenge of today’s low-intensity persecution. What is needed is an answer that says (and demonstrates, observably) that Christianity is a total way of life based on verifiable truth about God, humanity, and the universe, and that the Judeo-Christian worldview alone gives an adequate intellectual and livable basis for the dignity of man and human creativity, the fight against evil and injustice, and the possibility of substantial healing across the whole of private and public life, including government, law, and education. We have to ask ourselves: If we have yet to sufficiently challenge the milder opposition we now face, what makes us think we will be ready if we have to face forms of “extreme persecution” that “may be in the wings”?" (J. Richard Pearcey)

    Tom

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  4. Tom,

    Yes. My point was that if we look back to Jesus and forward to Jesus that has to transform the NOW -- which isn' my idea, but what Titus 2 says. Grace and the prospect of glory teach us to say no to ungodliness and yes to God-centredness!!!

    We exactly need NOW transformation - thats the beauty of Titus as a book - is so transformation focussed.

    And we have to learn how to defend the faith - and then get on with proactive positive gospel-centred apologetics. I'm a believer!

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