Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A New Land

Hebrews 11:13-16 (ESV)
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. [14] For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. [15] If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. [16] But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

The people of faith are in exile, pilgrims on our way to a better country, a heavenly one in which God has prepared a city for us. This world is not our home, and we need not be so in love with it that it consumes our very being. This happens in many ways. Perhaps it is just my own degenerate mind that starts thinking in the gutter, and drinking from it when I hear of “things of the world,” or ponder what it means to be in love with this world. To be sure the New Testament and the Old Testament warn us against the orgies and gluttony and other things generally considered to be bad, even by those who are of the world. The flesh feeds on asceticism as much as it does on libertinism. A great many people see the benefits of living a “moral” life. Christianity doesn’t really have the corner on that market that many think it does. Most of us would be put to shame by the life of Epicurus, he living an extremely “moral” life as the key to finding true happiness in life. He would be fairly shocked by the life style associated with his name today.
But love of this world and being consumed by it also takes another form somewhat more insidious. It happens most often in the “culture wars”. I don’t know why this happens. But it does. People seem to think that it is their Christian calling to transform this world. I am not saying we should not be politically involved etc. We should be, and in doing so serve our neighbor. However it would do us well not to lose sight of the gospel when we wade into the issues of the day. It would do us well to remember that this world is a sinful place, and it cannot be transformed or saved by the law. This may help us to be a little bit more sober minded when it comes to recognizing the limits of the law. We don’t need to worry ourselves to death one way or another with concern for this world as if it were our job to save it. This world’s days have been numbered. When it’s time is up, our Lord will return and take us with him to a new land, a better country, a heavenly one, a city he has prepared for us. Remembering that, we might start engaging the world as church with gospel, rather than the law.


Steve Martin said...

Good advice.

I'm always looking for ways to tell people the Good News.

But most of time I do a lousy job of it, if I say anything at all.

Bror Erickson said...

It is never easy, engaging the world with the Gospel. The law is what we know, it is our flesh, it is our old Adam. It is our sinful nature. It is the default position.
All the more harder because we can't live in this world with out it. yet we can't live by it either.