Dearest Hope Family,
Do you know the saying, “So heavenly minded, of no earthly good”?
The core complaint is that attention (or over-attention) to heavenly, spiritual matters hamstrings practical, this-worldly relevance and productivity.
As we plunge deeper into the Apostles’ Creed this Sunday and consider the final confession about the person and work of the Lord Jesus – that “He will come again to judge the living and the dead,” I wonder if that complaint simmers in the background for us. The more theological and doctrinaire must mean the less relevant, urgent, and practical.
With all of the incessant churn of racial justice, political division, pandemic threat, and economic uncertainty, in addition to the “normal” tidal wave of concerns with work and home, how, if at all possible, could the second coming of Jesus Christ be relevant, urgent, and practical for you and me today? Isn’t it just another example of Christians talking beside the point – woefully tone deaf to the real world of struggle and need?
C.S. Lewis, almost a century ago, in the very middle of the Second World War, through a series of radio broadcasts that eventually became his landmark work, Mere Christianity, took up this pressing question and concluded, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next…It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” Far from an out-of-touch, irrelevant, speculative enterprise, confessing the wonderful truth that Jesus Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead has immediate relevance and urgent practicality.
Jesus himself has much to say about the world to come and his personal, visible, and glorious return. In Matthew 24-25, he engages in an illuminating conversation with the disciples about these very things so that they can be poised to engage the real world of struggle and need with the motivating hope of the good news of his return. Regarding his return, Jesus, first of all, makes it clear that the timing of it is a matter of ignorance – no one knows when it will happen, only the Father. The implication is, therefore, not to major on the wrong questions of “when?” and “how?” but to focus on the hope of his return. Secondly, Jesus impresses upon the disciples the imminence of his coming again. The implication here is to be ready, to be longing for it, and to be prepared because it is coming soon. Lastly, Jesus explains that there is an interval between his first advent and his second. Some things need to happen in the meantime. And this is his dignifying invitation to Christians to be involved – right now, in the places where you and I live, in the relationships we steward, through the vocations we have pursued – in ushering in the fullness of the world to come as foretastes of the new heavens and new earth that Jesus will consummate upon his return. So we stand against injustice and fight for righteousness because soon – very soon – righteousness will take over this world. So we name the brokenness, division, and fears because our coming King is bringing healing, unity, and trust.
What we believe and confess about the world to come, about the One who is to come, has everything to do with how you will live today! Today you have the invitation to be so heavenly minded that you can actually be of earthly good!
Peace of the Coming King,