in Jesus we are invited to intimacy and enthronement with him

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire,so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Revelation 3:14-22

We may live in a Laodicean kind of age, not at all related to any dispensational scheme, but with something of the kind of Christianity we see in the Laodicean church of old. They were well off and satisfied with their lives, even as they named the name of Christ. But Jesus told them that there was something vitally missing. It wasn’t necessarily that they lacked a personal relationship with Jesus altogether, though it does seem weak at best. They are told that they are loved by God, and therefore being disciplined, at least that is intimated.

About a personal relationship with Jesus. I know that is bashed in some quarters of the church, but even if it might be overemphasized by some, while other matters of importance which are also central to the faith are largely ignored, it still, I say, is important. We have to keep reading scripture to really see if that’s the case, but I think a fair reading of the Final, New Testament will amply bring that out.

Yes, Jesus is on the outside knocking, so to speak. He wants a close fellowship, or communion with us. That is among other things which is at the heart of the faith, and in a way, we might say, at the heartbeat of it all.

And the idea that we’re not in a battle, and that it should all go easy if we’re in the Spirit is simply not a matter of fact either in reality, or in the pages of the Bible, including the New Testament. We are, and to realize that, we can say, is half the battle. Of course being “in the Spirit” will help us deal with the hard places, but it is no less a battle, of course spiritual in nature.

And what we’re promised if we’re victorious in and through Jesus is shocking and mind boggling. We are told that we’ll end up sitting with Jesus on his throne, even as Jesus after his victory sat with his Father on his throne. I can just imagine millions upon millions upon millions getting to take their turn seated with Jesus on his throne, and in the Spirit somehow always seated with Jesus on his throne. It’s interesting that even now we are seated with the ascended Christ, who is at the right hand of God, enthroned with the Father; that we are seated with him positionally, and perhaps by the Spirit there (Ephesians 1-2).

And so a close intimacy in knowing Jesus seems tied to being victorious in him in this life, so that in the end we are honored with him in and through him. As long as we’re in this present life, both are of vital importance.

…we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Romans 8

 

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the one Lord

You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.

Acts 10

Last night I watched the debacle, which was supposed to be a presidential debate. One of my Facebook friends posted, “He is not here. He is risen.” To which I later posted, “The Lord is risen indeed!”

When we look at the mess that is our world, certainly including our own country, we can only long for the return of the one who defeated all the rulers and authorities by his death on the cross, made evident by his resurrection from the dead, and ascension into the dimension of heaven at the right hand of God in the place of supreme authority.

There is one ruler today, and he rules in and through the church, but in the way of the cross, through his death and resurrection. It is a rule certainly at odds with the world, and with world rule, which has its place now in this evil age, while certainly out of place in so many ways. And destined to bow someday under his direct authority at his return. Even while now God works out his purposes in and through him, primarily through the church, but also in his sovereign wisdom over the nations, in the latter case in ways that are well beyond us, but in the former case, through the good news of that saving rule, in and through Jesus.

And so that is where I have my hopes. Not that I’m not interested in what is happening on the world’s stage. But my hopes are not there. But only in the one Lord, Jesus.

“do not put your trust in princes,” or in politicians

Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord.

Psalm 146

It is the way of the world to put confidence in political, governmental leaders, and in governments. In this day of democracy in many places, it seems like there’s no end to the renewed hope and expectations that come with elections, along with the inevitable let down when reality determines something different. And there’s the propensity with some to turn to some authoritarian leader who promises to take care of everything if they’re in charge.

We as God’s people ought to know better. We should put no ultimate trust in any politician, or government, no matter how good they might be. And the really good ones will themselves insist that their authority is derived, and that it is God who is the supreme ruler, not they, nor their government. And as such they are indeed responsible to God.

Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not. It’s as simple as that. And profound as well. So that I won’t bow the knee to any political regime. At the same time the kingdom of God in Jesus now present in the world from God through him by the Spirit is active in ways that the world is not, as well as in ways the world is. Of course always with the distinctive touch of God in Jesus.

Someday the Lord will return in judgment of the nations, and then will be King of kings, and Lord of lords in a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Until then we trust in God with reference to governmental authorities, but not in the authorities themselves. But God has required us to submit to every human institution for the Lord’s sake (Peter), and so we do insofar as their rule does not contradict the express will of God.

And so we don’t put our trust in any politican or political party or movement. We might to some extent support something of such at certain times. We realize not only their fragility, but the judgment which not only is to come, but which takes place in this present age. When nations and human officials come and go, the church remains right until the coming of the Lord. Our hope, trust and ultimate allegiance is in God and God’s Son, Jesus. Our confidence for a sure salvation which is as big as all of life. Even as we pray for human authorities, and God’s work in humble yet important ways through them.

the need for consensus (especially on contentious matters)

The kingdom of God in Jesus is not a democracy. Yes, Jesus is on the throne with God the Father and by the Holy Spirit. But even now in a true sense, we co-reign with him. Not at all in the sense of determining God’s will, but in the sense of discerning that will and seeking to live it out. I think there is a certain amount of latitude in that without a doubt, that the creativity given us from God is to be used in the venture of what is called “kingdom building,” seeking to do God’s will together, in sync.

What ought to be the goal among God’s people even now when we indeed “see through a glass darkly,” and “know in part,” is nothing less than consensus. Consensus means coming to an agreement together of what seems good to the Holy Spirit and God’s people. This is especially crucial over issues in which there has been consensus for some time based on what appears to be a clear reading of scripture.

I am impressed and unimpressed with individuals in places of leadership who are willing to take a stand against the grain of tradition through the centuries. People should be willing to grapple with hard issues, studying and discussing them. But when it comes to change, again what is needed is consensus as a whole. The thought that it might not look messy in process is surely a naive confidence at best. But simply taking a stand by one’s self without appeal (or sufficient appeal) to the church at large doesn’t seem to be in keeping with the kingdom dynamic within which the church lives, and more precisely which constitutes the church and what it’s about in and through Jesus.

distractions

Distractions are a part of life. We have to manage life, and certain things come up which might distract us from the main responsibilities and tasks at hand. It’s important not to get carried away with these matters to the point that they become an obsession and undermine what we need to hold to as first priorities. Yet they have to be dealt with.

I have to think that this is part of a training going on to help us become the rulers in and under Christ, that we are to be.

if we endure,
we will also reign with him.

We are being trained to reign with Christ. This seems related to God’s mandate to humanity to rule over the earth as faithful stewards. God made humankind to take responsibilities, yes, under God, but to actually rule in some sort of way. We do this on a small scale now, managing affairs of life in all kinds of ways.

And so we need to learn how to deal with everything that comes up, actually with all of life, the mundane, ordinary affairs, as well as the unexpected matters.

Training by its very nature isn’t easy. It is hard because of us, because I think it could be much easier than what it is, if we had more faith. I’m only guessing now. But I can’t help think of Jesus’ invitation to come to him to be yoked with him, with his promise of rest in the yoke that is easy and the burden that is light. However, there are aspects of life which by nature are challenging, since indeed our faith does need to grow, as we more and more settle and live in the faithfulness of God in and through Jesus. And we do encounter an enemy, the devil, in league with the world and the flesh.

By the Spirit and the word in fellowship with the church in mission in the world, we learn to reign, a reign which serves others. A reign into which we are being led. And prepared for, in this life.

And so I can learn to look at the unexpected challenges of life in a different light. As well as learn to live in the grace which will enable me to mature through the trials and manage the distractions that inevitably come my way, along with others in Jesus. Learning to reign together in him, for the world.

Eugene Peterson on the Ascension of Jesus

Ascension may be one of the most under-celebrated events in the church’s life. Part of the reason is that Ascension Day always falls on Thursday, never on Sunday, and so no sermon is required. Luther said that the creedal “right hand of the Father” means “everywhere.” That throne relatives and marginalizes all earthly thrones and all the world’s politics. The Ascension of Jesus prevent us from reducing the rule of Jesus to my heart as his throne. It is that, too, but much, much more.

In order to keep the Ascension of Jesus in sharp focus, the church has commonly used Psalm 47 to shape our response to all that is involved. The psalm sets a scene of joyful triumph:

God has gone up with a shout,
the Lord with the sound of a trumpet….
Sing praises to our King, sing praises….
God is king over all the earth;
God sits on his holy throne.
(Ps. 47:5,6,8)

The same Jesus who just over forty days earlier had been crowned “King of the Jews” on his Golgotha throne is now ruling from heaven’s throne. Everything he said and did in Roman-occupied Palestine is now being spoken and acted upon from “on high.”

When Paul’s companion Luke set out in Acts to tell us the story of the church, he began with Jesus’ Ascension. Ascension is the opening scene that establishes the context for everything that follows: Jesus installed in a position of absolute rule – Christ our King. All men and women live under the rule of Jesus. This rule trumps all other thrones and principalities and powers.

Knowing this, with the knowing elaborated and deepened in worship, the church has the necessary room to live robustly under the conditions of resurrection. If we don’t know this, the church, its imagination conditioned by death and the devil, will live timidly and cautiously.

Paul places the Ascension focus that Luke established at the threshold of the story of the church’s birth and early development by repeating the Ascension imagery, “he ascended on high,” as his orienting text for lives formed into a mature resurrection life: the resurrected Jesus rules church and world and every last one of us from heaven’s strategic center. That he rules is basic belief; the way he rules is subjected to numerous squabbles among Christians who insist on replacing a personal Lord with an impersonal doctrine.

Eugene Peterson, Practice Resurrection, 43,44