Lately there has been a lot of focus on the “when” of God bringing His work to completion. Thanks to a small group of people (many of which who seem to be trying to follow Jesus) tomorrow has been advertised as a possible “beginning of the end”. It hasn’t received much credit in actual “Christian” realms, but atheist and other non-faith-oriented places have held it high as an example of the ludicrous ability of God-followers to believe in hooey.
So what do these believers declare will happen tomorrow? It seems to be “The Rapture“. The basic belief that God’s desire is to remove the “souls” of all who love Him to another place (usually this place is thought of as floating somewhere in the sky, and contains a lifestyle of golden streets and jeweled castles). From their website, “He will close the door to salvation on May 21, 2011 when He returns to take his elect children to heaven “
There are enough websites, youtube videos, and other scriptural explanations out there dispelling the May 21st deadline. But the entire topic hitting the media as it has, makes us think about how important the “what” of this “when” can be.
I recognize that there are people I love who believe God intends to do something similar to the “rapture” linked above. There are a few who hold this belief, and seem to still be actively working out the Kingdom on Earth, and inviting others to do the same. But even more popular are those who have gotten their rapture passport stamped, are waiting for the big trip…and maybe inviting a friend or two to get their passport stamped also.
I do believe God will move again to finish what He began at the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Bible points us to God bringing together Heaven and Earth in a marriage that makes both completely new, joined by a New Jerusalem. A very physical existence in the full presence of God, someplace a lot more like “here” than a distant floating “somewhere up there”. This will be mysteriously connected to the Kingdom work we are involved in even today. This isn’t simply about “getting more people on the rescue boat while the world continues to sink”. This is about a Love for God’s creation (including humanity) that lives and acts out His Love and desire to bring about healing, righteousness and redemption. That includes living a life as revealed in Christ, not because “obedience = trip to heaven”, but because living this way is how God will be revealed and move in a world already begun to be made new.
He will come to complete the works begun in Christ and the Church. But until then, we know He has given us His Spirit for a purpose that is much larger than “saving souls from hell after death”. We are involved in freeing captives, sharing love, sacrificing, healing, creating beauty, caring for creation, bringing justice, etc., and declaring Jesus as Lord with our lives, in a creation that is heading that direction.
That purpose has begun, and will not end. May we join in the work of Christ in such a way that the day of His complete revealing will come as the natural celebration of what our lives are already directed toward…and not like a ship coming that we hope our tickets are good for.
(wait, that almost sounds like there’s a purpose to “Church” beyond a motivating message and emotional worship each week…:)
See you there…