I am transcribing my old journal and re-examining the things I wrote years ago. I am trying to put my finger on the things that feel prickly to me now; or that I just plain don’t agree with anymore. I don’t want to despise the person I was back then; I want to grow and help others grow. I’m sure my bitterness toward the church will rear it’s ugly head from time to time; but I don’t want this to be about wanting to rail against religion. This is about seeing things differently. And so, here is #1:
S) You belong to the light and live in the day. We don’t live in the night or belong to the dark…so we must stay sober and let our faith and love be like a suit of armor. Our firm hope that we will be saved is our helmet. (1 Thes. 5:5)
O) This whole chapter is talking about looking forward to Jesus return. If we really believe it’s going to happen, we will behave in such a way as to reflect that.
A) Not only do I want to stay sober in a physical sense, but especially in a spiritual sense. I will give an account for all I do in this life: I can’t forget that!
P) Thank you Lord, that I no longer belong to the dark-you have brought me into the light! Help me live to show others your love; and that I really believe your coming back.
The thing about the light vs the dark that bothers me now is how it creates an “us” (the good people that God loves) and “them”. (those sinners who aren’t doing the good things that we are doing) And when this happens, the “suit of armor” becomes a way to protect ourselves from “them”.
We know there is a problem with this attitude, because Jesus hung around sinners. Sinners never felt like Jesus was just too good for them, and Jesus never seemed afraid of sinful people dimming his light. His light drew them! If Jesus had any words of “reproof”, they had a healing affect and “woke them” into believing they were indeed loved children of God!
all the things reproved by the light are revealed, for everything that is revealed is light: for what reason he said, ‘Arouse yourself, you who are sleeping, and arise out of the dead, and the Christ shall shine upon you’.(Eph. 5-13-14)
The group of people who ‘slept’ through Jesus first coming were the ones who were sure they already had all the answers. They didn’t have any need to be told about who God was; they had their scriptures already memorized, thank you very much.
It seems to me that this idea that the “second coming” of Jesus is for the purpose of giving all those sinners what they have coming is the problem. It makes this “helmet of faith” a protection that we will be “saved” from the wrath of Jesus because we believe the correct things. Does this seem right to you? Is this what Paul means by “firm hope that we will be saved?”
I have come to a place of peace with understanding that Jesus “coming again” is a mystery. Do you realize you will never find the phrase “second coming” in the Bible? There has already been a “second” coming of Jesus. He appeared to Paul, right? If we are truly to be made into the image of Jesus, then isn’t our presence in the world like a “coming” of Christ? If my “being saved” means becoming “complete and lacking nothing”, then isn’t my “salvation” a hope not just for myself, but for everything and everyone around me? Read this scripture with that in mind, and see if it doesn’t make much more sense.
You see, all of creation has collapsed into emptiness, not by its own choosing, but by God’s. Still He placed within it a deep and abiding hope that creation would one day be liberated from its slavery to corruption and experience the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that all creation groans in unison with birthing pains up until now. And there is more; it’s not just creation—all of us are groaning together too. Though we have already tasted the firstfruits of the Spirit, we are longing for the total redemption of our bodies that comes when our adoption as children of God is complete— for we have been saved in this hope and for this future. (Rom 8: 20-24)
It seems to me we have been so focused on trying to figure out what it is we need to believe and do and perform to insure that we will be safe and not blasted by God, that we have missed the entire point of salvation. Maybe God is not interested in sending Jesus back to earth to destroy all the horrible sinners and blast the earth…maybe God is interested in refining each of us (yes, with fire…maybe it’s not hateful after all) so that EVERYTHING can be transformed and salvation will come to the whole earth. I know it’s not Hollywood’s interpretation of the coming doom and paranoia of being “Left Behind”, but it’s the ending I’m hoping for. And that belief is a firm hope and a “helmet” that gets me through some dark days when it seems nothing will ever be right and good. Jesus is coming! Lord, let it be through me.