LIVING BETWEEN THE TIMES (ypc – sunday)

I’ll be honest and say that Sunday night was fairly hard for me to follow, so there’s probably more of my own thinking here than John’s.  His theme tonight, ‘living between the times’
Romans 8:18-27

When climbing Mt Errigal with my good friends at dying to live teencamp this past summer, we found that at the top though we’d come so far that there was another peak just beyond the one we climbed to (see photo below, just didn’t take one of the 2 peaks at the top).  Such was the feeling of the Jews when Jesus arrived. They had assumed that when the messiah came all the ‘day of the Lord’ prophecies would be brought into place and there would be no more crying, pain etc.  However when Jesus came, he announced this kingdom saying the kingdom is here, but also still to come!  And we now live between these two great moments in HIStory.  Between the 1st and 2nd coming of our Saviour.  The first coming marked the start of the era of grace, the 2nd starts judgment and eternity.  So how do Christians view the world, what’s their world view?

The Gospel is the world view:

  • It’s unashamedly realistic (5:18+8:18).  The Christian’s world view is not prosperity Gospel, Paul writes here about sufferings and that they aren’t even worth comparing with the glory that will be reveled.  The kingdom is not fully here yet, we still live in a mixed up world with messed up people.
  • It’s supremely hopeful and heading somewhere.  The Christian does not want to go back but forward!  This is a sure hope.  Like watching a recorded football match after the game is played, you already know the outcome, you know your team has won, so no matter how tense the games gets you can sit back knowing victoryhas been won.  It’s with this sense that we view the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of ourselves!  It’s in this light that we go through sufferings and live life.
  • Mission is the great mark of this age, it’s as far as the church is concerned the age of mission.

Three things about this world view

  • We live here in Creation.  We live as created beings, and we can see God’s glory in the world of creation, both nature and in other humans, we see much goodness, caring etc in our fellow man.  The Glory of God is all around us.  However we know this glorious world is also distorted by the fall, and the sin of every generation.
    • Spoiling what was good/frustration.  Whether we think about a wild dog taking a sheep’s life for the fun of it, or a natural disaster wiping out whole cities, or the HIV virus, there is a spoiling of what is good in this world.  A frustration that things aren’t just working out the way they should!
    • Bondage to decay.  Order to disorder, energy to no energy.  From the moment anything in our world starts it begins to slow/decay, a baby’s ability to learn becomes less and less, a brand new car starts to wear out, a flower blooming will wither and fade, a great mind will become crippled by alizermers, a great athlete will be hindered with arthritis. Things are loosing their energy and order all around us.  Everything and everybody is getting older.  
  • We’re looking forward to the new age.  ‘Glory’ is the best summary of the new age (after Christ returns)
    • Christ’s glory will be visibly on display.  This glory will fill heaven and we will worship the Lamb of God, the Lion of Judah!
    • Our glory. New non-perishing bodies, which wont get older. ‘We shall be like Him’, our righteousness will be complete. Total and full relationship with our God!
    • Creation’s glory.  New heaven and earth.  In This new age everything will be new/renewed.  Creation will be free from it’s bondage to decay.
  • We now have the first fruits of this new age.  Like after a deposit is paid on a house, the smell of heaven is in our nostrils!  We just can’t wait to get there and we know it’s coming!  Like when you’re really looking forward to a nice wee cup of tea after milking the cows, you open the back door and smell fresh scones coming out of the oven, you know/hope you’re in for a good tea.  

So too when we begin our walk with Jesus, it’s nothing short of wonderful.  We get lost in worship, one of our friends comes into the kingdom, we see someone healed, our minds get more enlightened to the wonder of God. The Christian life is wonderful (full of wonder) and yet we know that our walk with Jesus isn’t as close as it could/should be, our christian life is tinted and spoiled by our fallenness.  Yes, this Christian life is just a foretaste (a smell) of what this new age will be like.  This is tasting the first fruits before the feast, sampling the wine before you have it with your stake!  So our small amount of being lead by the spirit will be total in heaven, our attempt at live righty will become total righteousness in heaven. Our relationship with God will become intimate, organic and undistorted in heaven.  Our faith, sight. Our hope, reality. Our joy, full. 
The deepest pleasure we can imagine and the most horrific suffering we find in the Christian life will be nothing in comparison to the Joy of living in this new age!

These ‘longings for this new age’ are the stamp of the Holy Spirit in our lives, our citizenship is now in heaven.
No wonder we feel wonder and frustration!  

We are to be people of hope and patience, longing for heaven.
So with our feet on the ground and our heads in heaven, may we live in worship and obedience.  

May we live this hope. 
May we draw others into this hope. 
May we have faith! 

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my series on John Woodside’s themes from the YPC.  It’s interesting making yourself look at what speaker says then putting it in your own words and condensing it. I think it’ll help this teaching sink in, certainly proves the saying, ‘you get out what you put in.’

Standing on Grace.

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