Explorations in Theology

The series explores a theology that is human friendly! Jesus as the true human shows us who God is, and because of his consideration for us ('who are we, that God should make note of us?') defines who humanity was created to be. The nature of sin is to fall short of the glory of God. The glory of God as revealed in the truly human one - 'we beheld his glory full of grace and truth'. This volume is a foundation for the other volumes. And there are ZOOM groups available...
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OK, but when?

Evidently not May 21, nor October 21, 2011!! So many miscalculations so now it is my turn… I am soliciting a little help from 2 Peter 3 and his three-fold reason as to why the parousia was still future for him, and as it turns out for us too. (Before looking at his perspective, it is worth noting, as an aside, that although he uses language that could be pressed, if taken literally, to mean the destruction of creation this is not likely his meaning. Two reasons – he uses typical apocalyptic language (strong metaphorical and physical language to describe the significance of an event, not to describe the literal result); and the second reason for not taking it as literal is he has already stated that the flood had ‘destroyed’ the world of that time. It did not physically and literally destroy that world.)

Peter seems to list three reasons in response to those who mocked about his ‘coming’ (2 Peter 3: 3, 4; parousia, the common word related to his coming, and carries the meaning of ‘presence’). The three factors are laid out in verses 8-12.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.

  • A perspective of time – what seems to be forever to us is not viewed the same way by God.
  • Any ‘delay’ means more people can be rescued. This is a very interesting perspective and challenges the pessimistic view that ‘only a few will be saved’. The longer the delay the more that will perish is the result of the pessimistic view. (A much longer discussion needed here, but I suggest we need to reverse ‘only those who receive Jesus will be saved’ to ‘only those who reject Jesus will be lost’. Maybe one day I will post on that… maybe…)
  • It is the third reason that pushes me again to underline the unfinished work of Christ. How we live, what we look forward to speeds (brings it closer in time) the parousia. There is a work for us to do. There is a future and we align our lives in the light of that, we focus on the future, that vision burns of a new just world and as a result the future will take place sooner rather than later. I take that literally, and as I have written in the past, the work we are involved in is in the preparation of the material that God requires for the New Jerusalem. We cannot build it – an unfinished Babylon is all we can achieve, but a finished New Jerusalem is what comes down from heaven, from the throne of God. Only God can do this; the perfect cannot rise up; it has to come down to transform what is here.

But the jewels, the gold, the precious stones? They originate here. Wood, straw and the like are not part of the materials God will use, and Paul acknowledges (in the context of ‘temple’ construction) that there are apostles whose works are simply that. How they work will not survive the fire, it will be considered of no eternal value. In that light he provokes us all to consider what our works consist of. God will and is building with the material that we supply that passes the fire test.

When will he come? When the work of Christ is finished… the aspect of his work that he is now doing through the body. Jesus explained to his disciples that his food was to do the will of God who sent him and to ‘finish the work’ he was given to do. And in like manner so he sent us… to finish the work.

It is time to get an eye that sees the world that is to come, the world that is the other side of the fire that destroys all unrighteousness. What world do we see? If we are to hasten that day then we need to align our lives with the values of that world, not this; we must sow seed now that is the seed for that harvest. Small acts now, but vital ones. The mockers mock, but the seers work.

3 thoughts on “OK, but when?

  1. ok, so I am now really curious. What do you think it means to ‘reject Jesus’? Is it a passive thing – raised in a way that does not really acknowledge Jesus or active? And what is one rejecting actually? Agreement that Jesus lived? Agreement that he was special? Agreement that he is what Christians say he is?

    Having survived and left evangelicalism I find myself quite confused about how to think about Jesus. I don’t trust much of anything I hear from most evangelicals as that form of the church is so corrupt at this point. And I certainly would not trust what I would hear from the Catholic Church as they are also so corrupted. So what should I believe about Jesus, or at least not reject about him?

    Essentially I have no clue what to believe or why.

    PS: I’m not trying to offend people who identify with one form of the church or another. I am sure you can find authentic and moral people in all forms. But overall any kind of institutionalized Christianity (and its supporting theology) seems quite problematic at the moment.

    1. So glad I am SOOO clear on EVERYTHING! And of course I think that is the issue so often – we can end up so sure that we can never change or adapt, defending what we believe with a closed mind-set rather than being willing to look at other possibilities.

      Jesus is bigger than facts about him. If I talk about Jesus let’s assume that I represent him reasonably well – reflect who is 80% accurately. Then someone who is listening – dependent on their journey they might hear the 20% far more than the 80%. Effectively they might be hearing – irrespective of what I am saying – such an inaccurate picture that they cannot receive the Jesus presented. Are they rejecting Jesus? (Into the above scenario we have to add the work of the Holy Spirit – opening the heart etc.)

      In short I think for me to reject Jesus would be to not accept him, his Lordship etc… this being due to my journey, what I understand etc. For someone brought up in a religious, legalistic, judgemental scenario and the Jesus they are presented with is the hard (and dare I say unjust) judge, if they reject that Jesus and walk away have they really rejected Jesus. Then take someone brought up where they have never even heard of Jesus, not even a severely sub-Jesus…?

      To respond to Jesus is much more than to be told some facts and then ‘accept’ or ‘reject’.

      My responsibility as someone who claims to know Jesus and follow him is to represent him in my life and speech. God will sort out the ‘who is justified’ when it comes to that.

      I simply do not think the ‘all are lost’ as the starting point works. It also reduces salvation to being ‘safe’ rather than reconciled to God who aligns us to represent Jesus.

      OK… my first claim that I am clear on everything was somewhat over-stated.

    2. Okay. I appreciate the attempt. I guess I haven’t really figured out what Jesus demands of me should I choose to fully accept him at this point in my life ( I speak as one who has been baptized and ministered in a church). What does that look like? I watched a video the other day of an American doctor who relocated to Sudan years ago to work in a mountainous area where there was absolutely no medical services for 1 million people, mostly poor people. Yet this is also a war zone, regularly bombed. He is Catholic and was led by his faith to relocate, identify with the people and commit to them. He refuses to leave despite the difficulties.

      Alright, I recognize that as fulfilling some of what Jesus said we should do. Should I do that in order to not reject Jesus? If I fail to live similarly have I rejected Jesus? The vast majority of people I know who call themselves Christian have not considered such a lifestyle change. Wouldn’t acceptance or rejection of Jesus require something in our lifestyle? He seemed to speak about that a fair bit.

      In the west that has been reduced to the ‘purpose driven life’ or something similar. Doing things that have meaning. But so often that meaning appears to exist within our comfort zones. Does that mean it is less than what is needed/required for acceptance?

      I like your gradation. From those with much (knowledge of Jesus) more is required. From those with less, less is required. I confess at this point I have no idea who Jesus is. He appears to have been a man who lived an exemplary life, one that got him executed. He said radical things that upset the powers in the land. Some people aligned with him and others did not. Other than that, I have no idea what to make of him. What does he want or need from me? How do I provide that if we are in some sort of relationship? The whole thing leaves me confused and somewhat weary in trying to figure it out.

      The institutional church gives little guidance since I take little of what it says (in any flavor) as truth. I think institutions that are so corrupt cannot be trusted on any level. I realize there is a document or series of documents available, but I am also quite aware of my own and other’s abilities or lack thereof to understand and interpret those documents. I sometimes think we have massively misunderstood Jesus but aligning him with what I think and believe is not an answer. Still wondering. . . .

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