Well, like many folks I know, I’m a bit overwhelmed. I mean that in a limited way. I’m not actually overwhelmed in a ‘completely’ way, just in my human way. Spiritually, I’m excited; I’m ‘completely’ excited. How can that be? What I know in my heart, my spirit, is different than what I know in my head. I’ve heard people say I get it (the Gospel Message) in my head but just can’t get it down in my heart. Actually, I think we’ve been duped about that because our spirit is strong, the fullness of Christ lives there. What we’re actually being challenged by is the wrestling that goes on in our minds versus what is true and has been placed in our hearts by His Spirit. Believers’ hearts don’t need changing nearly as much as our thinking. It’s a battle between a Loving God and our human logic, reason, thinking and fallen mind. It’s how we think, what pictures we paint in our imaginations, that overwhelm us for the most part, not our hearts.
Now, that said, let me explain. I sometimes get to thinking, ‘How can this crazy world keep going?’ The knowledge of all the evil in the world, what we see going on, and yet trying to make sense of what we believe, what we hope for. For sure, there’s so much of the world that’s ‘missing the mark’, a ‘couldn’t care less’, hateful world. Is there a place to recover the hopes and dreams we once had? Do we throw in the towel, just chuck it? Thankfully, I’m not tempted to go to that place as ‘my final answer’. One reason is that I’m not overwhelmed by trouble. There’s always been trouble, lots of it in fact. I stumbled into the 106th Psalm a few days ago which is about God’s people coming out of Egypt after hundreds of years of slavery. It contains a significant bit of human nature in it as it tells the historical story of the parting of the Red Sea. David writes of the fathers not understanding the wonders of, the mercies of God, even after their being saved by that miracle. They believed His works, they even sang praises, but in verse 13, ‘they soon forgot His works; they waited not for His counsel.’ And, God, in spite of knowing full well of people’s nature, nevertheless, saved them for His sake. For His story the Red Sea was parted, for His purpose the impossible became very possible. Had we been standing at the edge of the sea I’m not so sure we could have seen what was next, what He was about to perform.
There’s never been a perfect place, a perfect environment, for humanity to experience the fullness of God. It seems the Gospel has always had to rise to the top at the most oppressed moments. Captivities, barrenness, slavery, dispersions, death, and most terribly, at the focal point of all their faith, the cornerstone of anything they believe, their Hope was cut off, their hope died! Humanly, looked like no recovery possible. The one who had been prophesied from Abraham to John the Baptist- gone! Where was hope to be found then? Treated like a common criminal, the King of Glory was dead. Their leader murdered, their city burned to the ground, believers ran off into the desert. Our lieutenants (his disciples) crucified just as their leader was crucified. They had no printing presses, no campaign professionals to get Jesus’ Message out, no television show to get on and share around the world, no radio commercials ‘For Jesus’, no organization to get any message out let alone The Message. The Gospel was in the worst place for any future hopes, plans, dreams. Humanly, there’s no future to look to. The empire is winning, the religious establishment is rising up in a wave against Jesus and all that’s left is a simple belief that Jesus is Lord in the midst of total oppression. Doomed might be a good expression for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was certainly a bear market for believers. And today, it looks like a bear market for our Faith. Just look around!
John chapter 18 describes a moment that in some unique way is very similar to what is happening today. Jesus and the disciples have withdrawn to the Garden of Gethsemane. An assembly of perhaps 1000 Roman guards (a legion) has come to find Jesus. The chieftains from the Jewish religious leadership had gathered there as well. This was a real Star Wars. The Empire had gathered joined by the Religious powerful and the deal was on. It’s interesting that when Jesus identified himself with the words ‘I am He,’ both Empires fell to the ground. (Don’t you know he could have walked out of there in spite of the overpowering force assembled!) Even though he faced a seemingly overwhelming show of authority; even though it looked bleak, hopeless and with no possible way of escape to the human eye; even though both Empires thought that they had this, assumed they would destroy this Jesus, Jesus was about to destroy all their imaginations and evil deeds, all that had progressed from the Garden of Eden until then in just a few hours time. This was the moment of supreme iniquity! This was not just sin ruling and reigning, it was more than that. Human sin is missing the mark, not coming close to the center of Truth. In that place, iniquity stepped forward to look Jesus in the face, approach the Trinity of God and state boldly and without shame: we reject Your Word, we hate Your Word, we ridicule Your Word, we mock Your Word and completely and totally refuse God’s message of Grace and Peace. I think we’re in that same garden today. The world’s empires say we have Him this time. We’ve finally done our best, got it right and we’ve kicked Him out of everything we can think of. The Empire has made it almost criminal to praise His name. They’ve slaughtered millions in the wake of their violence. You can almost hear their voices: ‘He won’t get away this time, not again like he did the first time. We’re too smart for Him this time. We’ve outdone ourselves this time, for surely God is dead! Start the funeral! We win!’ That’s where I think we’re at today.
There’s a celebration going on by most the world. It clearly sees the end that it’s always imagined. But, I remember the hopelessness of Abraham and Sarah, I’m aware of the story in the 106th Psalm, I’m reminded of the tomb and a stone that was rolled away. I see the history of a people that were dispersed from Jerusalem in 70 AD and I’ve seen their gathering in 1948. I remember impossible things. I’ve always believed there would come a time in world history (His story) when the post-cross generation would crucify Him again, put Him to death. What went on at His first crucifixion would be repeated in this age. What we read in John 18 would take place again, this time, not by ‘His people’ but by the whole world, a world that’s angrily set against His Truth.
As for the end. I’ll have mine both ways. I think the end will come, not when the news is bad; there’s always been heartless news. I think the end will come when the Gospel is no longer preached. I’m not saying that there won’t be religion, there will always be lots of those to choose from, but a time of falling away from Truth of the Gospel as recorded in Matthew 24: 10-12 and Thess. 2:5. However, even with all the bad news of today, there can still be a revival of the Gospel Message. But for that to happen, what occurred in that 106th Psalm will have to happen again, for His name’s sake, God must directly intervene. That’s not impossible. We should not be of those that ‘soon forgot His works; they waited not for His counsel.’ We remember all the other times that God resurrected His Message of Love, even after being ‘buried’ by the world’s rejection. He again will have to say, ‘I am He,’ and every knee will fall to the ground. No matter either way, end or continue, it’s not over. This Gospel will not be defeated. With our human eyes and ears, it may look like it, sound like it, but it’s looked like that thousands of times before. It’s always been opposed, it has always produced resistance. But, He is Lord whether we agree with that or not, whether the world agrees with that or not. Jesus is holding all things together and has been given all judgment, so I can relax a bit and trust a lot. It is not over, or if it should be, either way, we are promised a glorious future! We should not let our ‘human’ thoughts dominate our spirits. He created all things, is upholding all things and in Him all things consist, without Him nothing consists. (Col 1: 16-17) By the Spirit, we know better, no matter what it feels like or what we see, we should not forget His works.