200b

It’s perplexing being a Christian. I’m not seeking sympathy. This is just an attempt to discuss the realities of the Christian life. For example, we are thankful for peace among nations. At the time of this writing, anxiety exists concerning peace on the Korean peninsula and with Iran, and the primary concern is nuclear weapons. Christians sincerely hope, along with the rest of the countries of the world, that peace will be assured, and nuclear holocaust will not loom over us. No one rejoices in the destruction of cities or countries. Christians are to pray for peace in our time: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).1 Yet, we are told this concerning the days to come: “Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:1–3).

Thus, if peace were present around the world, we would be anticipating the worst to happen.

Disconcerting.

In a related way, most people are happy when their community progresses, when a new business arrives in town and provides jobs; proud when it rights a wrong or delivers justice to those who were denied it. Our chests may swell a bit when our soldiers have defeated an evil enemy or, on the contrary, ashamed of how we have wronged others. Whether we are proud or ashamed or both, Christians know that their kingdom is not of this world. We seek a better country. “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:16). We have a higher allegiance. “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world’” (John 18:36).

Thus, when we pray in the Lord’s prayer, “Your kingdom come,” we are praying that someday our country will be brought to an end.

Christians live in Contraryville.

We enjoy this life. We enjoy our children, grandchildren, our families. We enjoy God’s creation: beautiful sunsets and sunrises, mountains, rivers, flowers, stars—so many created things—even thunderstorms. We enjoy a good laugh and good friends. However, “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:1–4).

We love life yet long for it to end.

Perplexing.

Christians are to lead but not as the world does. When Peter and John’s mother came to Jesus and asked that her sons might sit next to Him on His throne, He said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25–28). We are to follow Jesus and lead as He did. He prepared and served the disciples breakfast (John 21:9-13). He washed their feet (John 13:1-20). He, as exalted Lord of all, will serve us at the great banquet in heaven (Luke 12:35-37). He died for us, the ultimate expression of love. We do not understand how to be leaders in these ways. We seem to be able to think only in hierarchical terms

Christians live in Upsidedown Town.

 

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy giphy.com

Advertisements