Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kingdom Now!!!!

Every time I say this phrase in my head I hear it in the way George Costanza from Seinfeld famously shouted, “Serenity Now!”  Only, I am not shouting “serenity now,” but “kingdom now.” 
Why am I shouting this?
Well, because it is what we are all shouting all the time.  Now, we’re not actually shouting it directly.  However, we are shouting thousands of different things that all say the same thing, “kingdom now.”
“Alright Nicholas,” you may be thinking, “You have introduced your cute, little catchphrase.  Now explain yourself, or off with your head!”
Calm down first, then I’ll explain.
Okay, so, now to explain my little catchphrase.  Why Kingdom now?  Because we are obsessed with this life we are currently living.  And, rightly so, as it takes faith to think that there is anything beyond it.  We know we are alive now.  It takes faith to believe that there is something beyond this. 
Most Christians, at first, will say they believe that there is more to our existence than this life.  We’ll talk about heaven of course, and rightly so as well.  Oddly enough, pretty much every single culture almost ever has had an idea of an afterlife.  This is a massive question for the belief that there is nothing more, for why would we believe such a thing.  Some say it is genetic.  Okay, why is it genetic?  How and why could nothing become something, and then evolve into something that wanted more than that something? 
Rocks do not, as far as I know, long for anything, much less to be something other than a rock.  Although, rocks are rather laconic, so maybe I am just not listening hard enough.  We humans, however, are burgeoning with desire.  We don’t even know what to do with it all.  So much so do we desire that this life quickly reaches its limits in meeting our desire.  Even those who have everything that we all think would make us happy are left searching for more, often more so.
Thus, every man wrestles with the idea of the afterlife, with something more. 
As Christians, we definitely believe this.  At least we think we do.  I say “think” because we don’t really act like it.
God, through the Bible, has time and again told us that this life is no longer our own.  We are to take up our cross.  We are to die to ourselves.  Our lives are now God’s.  We believe that we are sinners, saved by grace.  God decided, out of love, to pay the price of our sin for us, as we are powerless to do so ourselves.  In return, we are to obey Him, and it will not be easy.  The Bible sucker punches only those who not read it.  It is very open and honest about suffering and that we will have desires that we will not get to give into.  God says He’ll change our hearts.  Our desires will slowly meld into His.  Our reward for doing so is the Kingdom of Heaven.  A place of perfection.  No sorrow.  Eternal bliss.
As I said, we know this in part.  Only, we are constantly battling the desire for that kingdom not to be in heaven, not wait, not to give up who we are.  We want our kingdom now. 
Every day I struggle with this.  My life doesn’t look like I wanted it to.  This is not a Christian problem for sure.  Lots of people struggle with this.  Only, as Christian, the chances are so very much higher.  You see, this is because we often blatantly choose to go against tour desire now for what lies ahead.  Our desire to build up our material wealth here is strong.  Our desire to keep everyone alive is strong.  Most give into it fully.  All of us give into it somewhat.  We are faced with a decision to live for God, and build toward heaven, or for now, and we win some and lose some. 
Thankfully, they are not always at odds, just often. 
God may not give you something you thought you’d have, perhaps a spouse, or children.  Perhaps he gave you a spouse, only not the one you wanted.  Maybe you want a big house, and God wants you to give up the high paying job to share the gospel.  Perhaps not.  But… perhaps. 
Point is, we’re all screaming “kingdom now,” when the truth is the kingdom is later, like it or not.  Your goods will not go with you when you die, and every single person you know and love will die.  All of them. Don’t be fooled into trading the fleeting scraps of this life for an eternity of bliss.  There your treasure will never end.  You loved ones will never die.  You have to get there first.  And more importantly, in this life, God’s glory is to be shared.  The gospel, that we were sinners, and yet were saved, must be told to everyone, and you are the on to do it, and so am I.

May we actually live like we believe what we say we believe.  May we lay it down, even though it is hard, even though we struggle to want to build up this life now.  May we not over do it and let go of this life as a whole either, swinging the other way in extremes.  Amen.

Corinthians 8-13-23
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  
19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 
20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope  
21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  
22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 
23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Matthew 5:3

It seems like there is this notion that being a Christian means knowing what to say or do at all times.  There feels like an onus to know what God is thinking, what He is doing.  Truth is, we don't always know what God is doing and thinking.  We know the result, but not the process.  Even the most ardent of us, those of us who know that pain and God coexist struggle with why at times.

Lately, I have been struggling with this myself.  I have been weak.  All I have been able to "bring to the table" is to cry out and ask for help.  Half the time I am doing so with anger in my tone, with a twinge of bitterness in the back of throat.  The only thing I can do is continue to cry out for help.  My rest comes in the verse, Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  Well, I am bankrupt in spirit. 

This morning I arose, and ceased to complain verbally.  In the face of my pain and struggle, I have taken my voice to God, like Job, David, or Habbakuk.  In the end, like Job, all I can do is trust that He does in fact love me, that this present suffering is not in comparison to the joy ahead.  I don't want to be like the ones in the parable of the seeds that stop believing in the face of persecution and suffering.  So, I am just singing in the face of it.  All morning long praise has been on my lips, and in doing so, my heart has softened.  I have had to remember the many good things, remember God's goodness, and all that He has done. 

I share this to let you know that you are not alone in hurting, that though my life has been devoted to God, pain still hurts, and struggle is still real.  Praise be to God that He is faithful.  I don't know why He does everything the way He does them, but I don't have to.  I'm just a man.  I am making a stand in my weakness, and will continue to cry out and sing His praises, and my hope will grow, as it has been all morning.  May our eyes ever fix on what is eternal, on Christ Jesus, and His love for us.  Amen.