Scary things that really shouldn’t be all that scary
I’m going to be talking about the end of the world and Jesus coming back for this post. You can fight me on it as much as your heart desires, but at the end of the day, this is what I believe and I’m sticking to my guns.
The Bible is laid out like a story. We start with the chronological order in Genesis, but we don’t stick to it. At no point does God tell us what BC/AD/WhatEver time the world was created, and from my best guess, I’d say that’s because God can do whatever the hell he wants and he created time. He gives several important milestones (which line up with very well supported ecological and biological concepts, i.e. Did the Sun come before plants?) and left it at that.
Jesus also tells us that the law will remain intact in its full form (Matthew 5:18) until he returns. Later on in Matthew (22:37-40), Christ explains the two greatest commandments which the law is based on and upheld by: to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with your mind.” Then in Matthew 22:15-22, Christ clarifies that his new covenant is not meant to incite anarchy and break society, but that it supersedes over society, and thus, his followers should still maintain social order, recognizing that it was already broken to begin with. After he is resurrected in Matthew 28:16-20 (The Great Commission) Christ tells his people that he will always be with them, and that they will need to spread the Gospel to “all the nations” (all kinds of people from the whole world #evangelism) to make them his disciples.
Let’s pick it up back in Romans. Romans 9:3-6 is a pretty clear illustration that God can do whatever he wants. The Israelites were given everything, and yet, because they did not appreciate it for what it was and obey God’s commandments, despite the fact that they were obviously for their best interests, God planned to prove his grace to those Gentiles, who “are not descended of Israel, but belong to Israel.” That is where you and I come in, if we call ourselves Christians and are not descended of the Israelite people by blood. And in Romans 9:15, Paul really wants to make sure we know that.
In Romans 10:9, Paul names the two prerequisites to being saved: [a] “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is the Lord and [b] believe with your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. At no point does it speak about losing your faith by doing shoddy things or failing. At no point does it say that if you step on a crack and break your mother’s back will the two of you be damned to eternity.
What it does go on to say is that God has given all to a “disobedient and contrary people” (Romans 10:21), and that God used Israel’s disobedience to graft in the Gentiles (Romans 15:8-13).
In Philippians, Paul turns to the goodness of God while he is being imprisoned (Philippians 1:12-14), and talks about how his suffering has inspired boldness and speaking of God’s truth in others who have seen his faith under deadly pressure. Paul makes it obvious in Philippians 1:15 that not everyone who preaches the Gospel (and about his imprisonment—ouch) has good intentions.
Really, all of Philippians is pretty great in the context of bearing up well under pressure and falsehoods spoken against your character. Paul uses Christ as an example, as he should (Philippians 2), and that is awesome, because Paul was (chronologically) waaaaay closer to Jesus than us, so odds are he had a better idea of what he was talking about than some of us.
The coolest part about all of this is knowing that Christ also had to walk by faith. He asked God in Gethsemane three freaking times (Matthew 26:36-46) if he could get out of bearing the cross, and it knew full well what he was walking into. He was convicted by God, and he did it anyways.
Because we are not like Christ, Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:36-50 that no one will know when he is coming back and that we cannot vainly drop our guard, even knowing we will fail bitterly from time to time. Yeah, it isn’t easy, and Jesus is well aware of that; after all, he walked right into a convicted death sentence. He didn’t even get a real trial; he was lied against by the Pharisees in whatever way necessary for scripture to be fulfilled and for him to die. He may have had to grit his teeth through some of it, but he did all of it anyways, down to the bitter wine and the sponge.
Okay, that all is fine and well. But the sponge and his crown of thorns meant something, and they still do. Not a letter has passed away from the Law, but we need the grace of God to uphold the law through faith and by goodness to others. Therefore, the Law crumbles.
We assume that the Law (society) crumbles because we broke it, but in fact, it was already pretty to begin with. We work within the confines of the law to bring about true healing, and it never works, it never has, since the fall (#Eden).
It is not our responsibility to fix it, but to love God and each other in such a way that Christ may come back to fulfill it.
And if we think we are above it (Jews à Pharisees) or below it (Outcastsà Gentiles), then we probably should stop thinking about it so much, and realize that the entire point of having social order is so that we can fight to love each other (Tower of Babel; Genesis 11), and realize how freaking precious that love is (which comes from God).
Furthermore, if scripture is about encouragement and the pursuit of the truth, why do we treat it as if it were a tool under the Law? The Law is broken, duh, that’s why we have Jesus. If Scripture is fully true and fully good, shouldn’t we continue paying our proverbial taxes to Caesar and let God’s goodness shine through us (Hebrews 11, Revelation 22, 1st Corinthians 13, and Romans 4; et. everything else), being justified by him and Christ, who came to save us?
I’m pretty sure I could dig up some verses I don’t have memorized about that if I tried, honestly it’s the same goodness everywhere and it all says the same thing, which is that Jesus can be the good one and he can do it for all of us just as we are. I don’t need a degree from a Seminary school or 50+ years of fervent preaching to be able to have faith in a God that restores me, especially when I believe that I am no better than anyone (and struggling to believe that more as I go).
This isn’t hard except that it’s the hardest thing there ever has been, and it is that way for a reason. If you knew going into your pursuit of Christ that at no point will it get easier, in fact, it will get progressively harder as you graduate from lesser burdens to greater trials, so that God’s glory might shine through you, would you still do it?
And that is where we stand. It’s a personal choice; you can make it in or outside of Church, alone or with millions of people listening. The angels will still throw you a party once you get saved, and you’re cordially invited to the most b** a** baller party there ever was, because Jesus will be there, and he can do literally whatever the hell he wants. It’s a simple choice, and God states pretty clearly in Revelation 3:13-22 that he doesn’t do lukewarm, as he says that in other places. But in Revelation, it lists out the very real consequences for being complacent, and even if you were totally gifted, you still wouldn’t be able to understand all of it because it’s a prophecy that is suuuuper cryptic about the end of the entire world, and some of that has God to be convicted by faith and potentially seen to be believed (although you don’t need to see it to believe it, why else 2000+ years after Jesus would you call yourself “Christian”?).
The Gospel is really simple, but it is really simply hard in ways that are infinite, because God’s goodness is infinite, and until Christ comes back to redeem us stupid sinners, we are infinitely less infinite. We coast just the same as Adam and Eve, and God is God. Therefore, his positive goodness makes our coasting and complacency wither into darkness, if we’re talking relative terms. Even if all humans were born as the perfect image of God (not gonna happen; #original sin and #spiritualbondage) we’d be judged as dead the moment after our births because God is that infinite awesome. Actually, we’d probably never have even been born. If Adam and Eve weren’t immediately smit post-garden, then that should prove how great God is to let us last to the brink of overpopulation and terrestrial havoc and mass destruction.
Nobody knows when he’s coming back, and if you believe that he was resurrected by God and you confess it with your mouth, that should be no issue for you. I’m not sure what his formula for deciding what constitutes confessing his grace with your mouth may be; I don’t know if it has to be a continuous thing or whether just a little faith in a God like ours is enough. God tells us a mustard seed of faith is enough, but I’m not really sure where that ends, and whether or not that is ignorance due to having barely any time with most of this or just the fact that none of us has any clue, I’m still at peace. I don’t know how he evaluates people that don’t fit the cookie cutter Ginger-Christian perspective, but I know for a fact that the criteria don’t change, because he is fair. What those criteria are is a great mystery to us all, and that is why we have Scripture.
I probably need to go to bed now because I have finals starting at 7:30am tomorrow morning. I haven’t studied all that much, but I was just gonna trust God and that writing this is more important (because I know that it is) and see what happens. I’ve prayed over it, and I trust it. And however he chooses to work in this semester is his call; it always has been, it will be long before and after it. Such is life.
All the best,