Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Read this

I'm reprinting the following from Mike's Cope's entry
yesterday on his blog (www.mikecope.blogspot.com)
for one good reason - it says perfectly the way I see
things, too. Thank you, Mike, for saying so well what
I've been saying not nearly so well for a long time.
This is required reading. - David


" 'Already but not yet.' That's a striking way of
describing the breaking in of the reign of God. It has
already come--but not yet in its fullness. We await the
consummation when Christ returns.

"Probably most Christians find themselves leaning in
one direction or the other. 'Already Christians' are
amazed at the power, signs, wonders, and answered
prayers that are all around them.

"I'm a 'not yet Christian.' While I believe that the reign
of God has broken in, I mostly see evidence of what
remains to come. I can identify with the language of
Paul that we (and all creation) long, groan, wait, and
hope.

"I deeply love 'already Christians.' I need to be prodded
by them. But I don't share much of their outlook. And
it seems at times like their hyper-confidence is
damaging to struggling people.

"When they talk about all the times God has spoken to
them, I think of all the silences. When they speak of
instantaneous healings, I remember all the people I've
pleaded with God to heal but who died (including my
daughter). When they talk about how God keeps
pouring down his blessings (often meaning homes, cars,
vacations, etc.), I think of all the people who become
poorer as a result of their faith.

"They speak of a way of blessing. The gospel speaks of
a blessing that involves loss and persecution. They
leapfrog to Easter Sunday; the gospel goes through
Good Friday and Silent Saturday.

"There are so many God-lovers who beg God to take
away their depression, but it remains. There are many
who ask him to remove their homosexual desires, but
the temptations keep coming at them. (And for some of
them it only makes it worse when they hear the
testimonies of people who were instantaneously
'cured' -- as in, 'Why does God care more about
them than about me?')

"I love these words from Larry Crabb (another 'not yet
Christian,' I believe after reading so many of his
excellent books):
"Modern Christianity, in dramatic reversal of its biblical
form, promises to relieve the pain of living in a fallen
world. The message, whether it’s from fundamentalists
requiring us to live by a favored set of rules or from
charismatics urging a deeper surrender to the Spirit’s
power, is too often the same: The promise of bliss is
for now! Complete satisfaction can be ours this side
of heaven.

"Some speak of the joys of fellowship and obedience,
others of a rich awareness of their value and worth.
The language may be reassuringly biblical or it may
reflect the influence of current psychological thought.
Either way, the point of living the Christian life has
shifted from knowing and serving Christ till He returns
to soothing, or at least learning to ignore, the ache in
our soul.

". . . Beneath the surface of everyone’s life, especially the
more mature, is an ache that will not go away. It can be
ignored, disguised, mislabeled, or submerged by a
torrent of activity, but it will not disappear. And for
good reason. We were designed to enjoy a better
world than this. And until that better world comes
along, we will groan for what we do not have. An
aching soul is evidence not of neurosis or spiritual
immaturity, but of realism.

"The experience of groaning, however, is precisely what
modern Christianity so often tries to help us escape."