Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Short Life of Christ: Visions of Christ

I've forgotten what I was reading or thinking about that started me thinking about Christ and his short life-span. If he had somehow kept out of his enemies' way, could he have lived another decade or two or three? Did he really have to die at 33 or could he have died later?

The haunting question is what if Christ had lived out his life and died of old age but then would have been resurrected? He could still have felt the awful separation that sin causes between him, our substitute, and God. Is there something about a 33 year old younger man that an 85 or 90 year old Christ could not have contributed to our salvation?

One problem would be his post-resurrection body. It would presumably be a younger Christ that rises from the grave. Or it could very well be a very healthy and glorified octogenarian Christ, so his disciples could visibly recognize that it was the same Christ that was raised from the dead.

I meditate on this alternate history of Christ because of a suggestion by John Wood (Atlantic Union College) that Christ did not necessarily have to die on the cross. He could very well have been sacrificed by the high priest on the altar as Isaac almost was sacrificed by Abraham.

Thinking about the aging of Christ started me thinking about what it must have been like for Christ to get a cold, or a fractured leg, or other human ailments that come to human beings from time to time. Christ did, in fact, age, since he didn't stay forever 21 or whatever age is the standard before visible signs of aging begin. Some say we start aging when we are born.

How odd to think of the God-man, Christ, aging and perhaps acquiring one or two wrinkles around the eyes before he reached the ripe old age of 33. Christ, I love you, wrinkles and all.

Imagine if you will though, a 21 year old Christ dying for humanity. Even better yet, imagine the horror if, by some stroke of madness, the teachers in the temple had offered up a living, 12 year old Christ as the sacrifice that would also have saved all of humanity.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

7-minute Sabbath

Only when you don't have something, a constant weekly Sabbath guaranteed, do you take it for granted. Not that I didn't enjoy the Sabbath years ago when I had every Sabbath off from work. But it goes beyond that. Sometimes it's Monday night or Thursday evening and as I walk my dog and look up at the southern skies I celebrate a 7-minute sabbath. I also refer to this concept as the eternal Sabbath. I like to think that the Sabbath can be a state of mind that you can dip into any time during the week, as well as the regular 24 hour Sabbath that also arrives on its regular schedule.

I also think of Christ as being my Sabbath rest. The words of Matthew 11 come to me often during the busy work week: "Come to me [Christ] you who have heavy burdens and you will find rest for your souls." Right then & there I claim that promise for Christ's instant rest. It's a rest that you can tap into, must tap into to stay on course, any time you need it and not just once a week. So I thank God for allowing me to enjoy the 7-minute Sabbath dozens of times a week, or at times, 2 or 3 times a day. Thank God for the Sabbath in all its forms, real and conceptual.

I pray that the Lord help you to live in the Spirit more and more and bless you in every possible way.

What impressed me about the chapter [Acts of the Apostles chapter two by E.G. White] I mentioned before was it's obsession with things dealing with the Holy Spirit. I got the impression that one could live and breathe the Spirit constantly. What bliss that must be!

I wish you the best of Sabbaths beginning tomorrow. But I also wish for you a dozen 7-minute Sabbath's during your working week.

God bless, Yours in Christ

[adapted from an email I sent off to a distant friend]

Friday, April 18, 2008

In Loco Deus

After reading about an Asian child who lives in a garbage dump with his adopted mother and who feels that it would be a disadvantage, they both think, to leave the security and cast-off food in the garbage dump that arrives daily in trucks, I realized that there are poor children in my own country whom I could and should reach out to, if I am unable to help this particular boy and his mother in Asia.

I could pray for them, I could send money to Asian charities, I could ... I could ... I could. It then struck me that I, you, we, have the need or possibility of being not in loco parentis, but something grander for children and people who have nothing and may very well never have anything in their lives. For the first time in my life, I understood that I need to be in loco deus (in the place of god.) Or would it be too bold to capitalize not just the "g," but the whole word, thus becoming "in the place of GOD." I think I finally got it, what it means to be human and see so many people hurting. I and the help I may be able to give, with whatever limited or generous means I may possess, may be the only god or God that may ever come to rescue of people in dire need.

I understand who I am now. I understand what I'm supposed to do and who I'm supposed to be.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The End of Time

This is a phrase that comes to mind without any thought on my part. It doesn't help that often when I open the bible it opens to Ezekiel 7. The New International Version editor has titled this chapter "The End Has Come." I can't tell you how often my bible has opened as if automatically to this very page. I've often thought that perhaps it is the very center of the binding and therefore the page finds me instead of me finding it. That can't be quite right as it took me several tries just now to find this chapter. I had not remembered that it was the seventh chapter. There are, however, 48 chapters to skim through, yet it took about a minute or three to find this End Page.

I've read this chapter several times, especially every time it just happens to find me. I've thought that God guides me to this page and yet it's historical specifics don't resonate with me. My end of time obsession is far in the future. When I don't automatically think of these words, "the end of time" I often think of the following phrase: "a million years from now."

I meditate on what life or the universe will be like within a million years. Sometimes I associate both of these automatic mind phrases and imagine that life as we know it, or the universe, will end a million years from now.

It is nothing but a suspicion. It is not a wish I want to come true.

Today I stopped to think what meaning the cessation of time, as one of the four dimensions of existence, would possibly have. It sounds nonsensical that the other three dimension, height, depth, width could possibly go on and yet, the most important one, time, come to an end.

I once read in a scientific article that it is thought by some that time was the first dimension to come into being before the others could possibly exist. It makes sense since whether you believe in God or not, the universe started out as nothing, or close to nothing, an imperceptible original point of matter-energy. Since time was the first to come into existence, why couldn't it be the first to cease existing, after which the other dimensions would follow its lead.

The good news is that our universe might very well be a cyclical one. If time ends a million years from now, it can begin again a million years later. Or perhaps after time ends, it automatically begins again, racing faster and faster to its next End Game.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Delayed Second Coming

Rich Hannon: "I am presuming God will eventually explain why this train-wreck of a world should go on so long. "

I think God is a loving being. I didn't always feel that way. I'm glad I'm beginning to feel so more and more. However, I've always suspected that there is so much more that has happened and is happening behind the scenes that would explain why all of this imperfection and pain has been with planet Earth for either 6,000 years (conservative estimate) or millions of years (progressive estimate.)

I've sometimes thought that perhaps revelation is imperfect and we've assumed too much from what sacred writings he has bequeathed to humankind. Could it be that God lets this often tragic world continue because it's up to those he created in his own image to finally get it right by themselves? Did he not give us the basic tools to accomplish this, e.g., our minds? If you believe that it's taken millions of years for humanity to arrive at this point in history, might it not take a million more to make it to God's realm instead of us waiting for him to return to our realm. But wasn't this what the builders of the tower of Babel were set on doing, "making it to God's realm" They failed, the bible tells us. Perhaps all attempts at reaching God physically are meant to fail. The best we can do is try to reach him in spiritual ways.

When Jesus said "I come quickly" or that he's coming soon, he must have meant just that. Even the disciples believed such. Something must have happened that we don't know about to delay Jesus' return so much.

If Jesus doesn't come in the next thousand years, then we really should go out in search of him. I mean this in the most serious way. It is not an expression of doubt, just of mild bewilderment.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Post-Laodicean Church of Revelation 3:15

The imperfect Laodicean church, because of its lukewarm state, has already received its sentence when the Amen says "I am about to spit you out of my mouth." Rev. 3:16 (NIV) You might say that this sad spitting out has not taken effect since it speaks of "about to spit" instead of "have spit you out." Even though there is hope that the lukewarm church could potentially abandon its lukewarm condition through the spiritual gifts it is counseled to buy from the Amen, the sad reality of the Laodicean church is that it does not recognize its lukewarm state.

Note these important words, "I wish you were either one or the other [hot or cold.] Rev. 3:15 (NIV) Only in moving toward one of these two options can the Laodicean church leave its lukewarm state. Once it's fully conscious of its cold state, then perhaps the possibility of future heat can transform it, or it might also be that when once it crosses over into a cold state, it has effectively sealed its fate because it no longer makes any pretense of being even spiritually warm or, as it says of itself, "I am rich . . . and do not need a thing. Rev. 3:17 (NIV) This almost sounds like a pre-condition to becoming spiritually cold.

Since the first church, the Apostolic church, was a hot church, and since hot is the desired and positive outcome that the Amen wishes for the Laodiceans, then clearly the Laodicean church because of its steady-state lukewarm condition cannot be the last church because it would then cease to be identifiably lukewarm and would have evolved into a post-Laodicean church.

Without mentioning it by name, the words "I wish you were either one or the other [hot or cold] Rev. 3:15 (NIV,) infer the theoretical existence of a post-Laodicean church, in effect an Eighth church. Yes the number seven in the bible symbolizes completeness and you might argue that the seventh church is therefore the last one, however, the identifying characteristic of the Laodicean church is lukewarmness which does not sound like an ideal state. The wishing that this supposedly last church were either hot [desirable] or cold [undesirable but complete in its total rejection of grace] infers the return to the spiritual heat of the first church, the apostolic one. The last and ideal church would have to be like the first and ideal church. The cycle has to come full circle.

It would have been unwise to explicitly mention the Eighth church by name. Anyone identifying with it would be guilty of self-pride that he or she were part of the Eighth and ideal neo-apostolic church. By not mentioning it, it leaves the door open for its virtual existence when it finally comes into being. However, the difference being that no one who is part of the Eighth church will ever realize that he or she is, in fact, part of such an ideal and final church. Members of that church will continue thinking that they have the imperfections of the Laodicean church with its need to buy gold, white clothes and salve to put on their eyes. The silence of the name not being spelled out, or of a corresponding city being designated for this Eighth church allows it to be applied to all believers who are honest enough to realize that they are lukewarm and are in need of the Amen's saving gifts.

Identifying oneself with the lukewarm and vain Laodicean church has never seemed like much of an inspiration to me. On the other hand, wishing to be part of an unspoken and hot church, a Post-Laodicean church, sounds very attractive and worth seeking out with all the intensity that such a goal deserves.

May this Eighth church, which will remain nameless and virtual in its actual manifestation, be part of your life and mine. Or, rather, may we have the faith to seek the gold, white clothes [righteousness by faith] and eye salve that will allow us to become part of this nameless and hidden church. It is a church that hides conveniently in the description of the supposedly Seventh and final church.