This summer in Wednesday night class we are seeing how a journey or road trip can be seen as a metaphor for our faith. Here’s a recap of what we talked about this past week (7/11/18).
Whenever you take a road trip with kids, there are certain questions that are almost guaranteed to be asked – repeatedly – from the back seat. Do any of these sound familiar?
Where are we going?
Are we there yet?
How much longer?
I remember the “dad-joke” responses my parents always gave to those questions. Where are we going? “That way.” Thanks…
These questions are inevitable because most kids are curious. It’s not that they don’t trust their parents, it’s that they want to be “in the know.” And isn’t that the way it is with us when it comes to our faith? It’s not that we don’t trust God, we just want to be in the loop. We want to feel included. There is comfort in knowing certain things, and it makes some of us nervous when we don’t have any clear answers.
But I think we can find some answers to these very questions when it comes to our journey of faith.
WHERE ARE WE GOING?
When you start off on a journey, it’s good to know your final destination. I’ve never been one of those people who can just jump in the car and drive. “Going for a drive” has never been my thing. I like to know where I’m going.
So when it comes to the Christian faith, where are we going? Where is this all headed? What is the end goal of the journey?
If you said “heaven,” I will give you partial credit.
Here’s why. Jesus wasn’t that concerned about teaching people how to “get to heaven when you die.” The idea of heaven that most of us have is more shaped by Greco-Roman mythology than by the Scriptures or Jesus’ teachings. When we think about heaven, many of us picture this ethereal, spiritual realm, a completely disembodied existence. We picture a place where our souls finally escape this material world for an eternity floating among the clouds surrounded by light and rainbows and butterflies.
Not only does that sound dreadfully boring, that also sounds more like the Greek understanding of the afterlife – Hades and Elysium – than the new heavens and the new earth as described throughout the Bible. The goal of the Christian faith is not some disconnection or transcendence of the spirit beyond the physical plane. The goal is RESURRECTION, a re-creation of the “very good” cosmos as God intended it.
Jesus had a few different phrases for this.
- Kingdom of Heaven (used 31x in Matthew)
- Kingdom of God (used 14x in Mark and 32x in Luke)
- Eternal Life (used 17x in John)
It’s fascinating to me the number of times men have tried to somehow calculate the time when Christ would return. What a fruitless endeavor if there ever were one. Christ himself made it almost painfully clear that no one – no even HE – knows God’s timing. The point is to be ready. The point is to live in the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven every day.
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:6-8)
They were expecting the kingdom to come in full right then. But Jesus tells them that they have some work to do. Don’t worry about how long it will take. Just get busy living out God’s will and expanding the Kingdom here on earth. The rest of Acts is showing how that mission was carried out by the apostles and the earliest Christians.
But think about what that means for us today. According to some estimates, there are still 2-3 Billion people around the world who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are many people who don’t have the Scriptures translated into their own language yet. We haven’t yet fulfilled the mission given to us 2000 years ago.
But God is patient. God is patient when we are not. God can out-wait anyone. As Peter reminds us:
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. (2 Peter 3:8-9)
JUST TO RECAP
WHERE ARE WE GOING? It’s not so much about going anywhere. The Kingdom of God is coming here, to us.
ARE WE THERE YET? Yes and no. We need to be living as citizens of the Kingdom while realizing that the Kingdom has yet to fully come. We live in the “already but not yet.”
WHEN WILL WE GET THERE? We must be patient and wait on God’s timing. God wants as many people as possible to live the Kingdom life and to hear the Good News about Jesus.