Category Archives: REFLECTIONS ON THIS AND THAT

HE DIDN’T SAY THAT! HE SAID….!

Jesus is talking about the downfall of his nation in 70AD [note Luke 21:32]. In apocalyptic and non-apocalyptic speech He speaks of its ruin. Surely if that were to happen the disciples would think it their worst nightmare come true and it would mean the failure of God’s promises to and through Israel. Jesus assures them otherwise and for the moment all they have to depend on is His word. His assurance to them in that day is assurance to us in ours. Read of the fearful things he speaks of and then hear his startling promise.

Luke 21:28. “When you see these things…” Read the section, please.
When you see these things lift up your heads—redemption draws near.

He doesn’t say: “When you see financial stability return and global financial chaos disappear like a morning mist before the sun.”

He doesn’t say: When you see progress in political talks and national leaders gathering to sign peace treaties and agreements to destroy nuclear weaponry and all the war-mongering ends.”

He doesn’t say: “When you see a tremendous change for the better in the moral climate and towns and cities and countries change for the better and truth and kindness becomes the order of the day.”

He doesn’t say: “When you see medical and scientific advances that truly make a difference to the daily living of the hundreds of millions of the vulnerable and marginalized.”

He doesn’t say: “When you see national and international leaders arise who work effectively for peace with righteousness and prosperity with honor and justice and blessing for all.”

He doesn’t say any of that! And He isn’t happy about what He knows is happening and will happen! He sits on a hill sobbing about those things! See Luke 19:41-44 and parallels.

Who can’t or won’t rejoice at such things that He might have said? These are and would be the work and blessing of God. We’d have to be sour to the core not to rejoice in them and want them. Let me say it again: such things are God’s good gifts [Acts 14:15-17 and 17:24-28] and they are reminders of God’s intention toward His human family.
But we won’t base our hopes on the latest political, social and international headlines. We may rejoice in democracy but when the voting majority becomes one of “the beasts” we are given the opportunity to see with greater vision and to trust only “the Son of Man” [Daniel 7].

God has not created us to labor in vain. He has not purposed that we suffer forever. He created us to love and be loved and not to abuse or be abused. While human sin is rampant in the world there will be hurt and loss as God works to bring us to a glorious finale under Jesus but pain and suffering is no eternal plan of God. We know in our bones that the agony the human family sees and experiences is not the end of the Story. Beyond sin, peace and prosperity and fullness of life is married to righteousness—they are the outcome of and invariable companions of righteousness and God has so ordained it.

When we see peace and prosperity here and there, when we see health and blessing here and there, when we see women and men of integrity in places of power and things looking as in our hearts we know “they should be” we ought to rejoice!

But until the day when the glory and smile of God covers the earth as the waters cover the sea we’ll wait, trusting, all our lifetimes, generation after generation despite the wars and cancers and broken marriages and abusive parents and abusive children and predatory power-brokers and sly, greedy officials who exercise authority against the defenseless simply because they can.

When we see all these things we’ll lift up our heads—redemption draws near.

In Luke 21 [see for yourself] Jesus has just painted a picture of national and international terror and fear and chaos. The foundational structures of their world would totter, uncreation would blaze there before them everywhere they looked, and despair would rush at them like a tsunami. It was in the light of all that that Jesus said, “When you see all these things” lift up your heads—redemption draws near.”

Only fools make light of such terror and only the insensitive look at the crosses others are dying on and call them “a challenge”. Jesus didn’t make light of those terrible days. He thought them real and He wanted them to know they would be real and terrifying.

Nevertheless, Jesus has shown us that God too is real and he calls us to trust! Trust is always good and right—in the good and prosperous times as well as in calamity but its gold is purer in times of heartache and confusion and fear. Trust sees the pain and loss for what it is—
there!
real!
savage!

But enabled by God they lift their heads believing that they can either judge God by these events or judge these events by God.

Jesus did not say: “When you see all these terrifying things happen throw in the towel; trash your faith, spit on your dreams, curse your God or live your little life dominated by news headlines and worry.”

That wasn’t what He said!

In lonely bereavement in your little house, in your jobless bewilderment, in your own private agony that no one but God and you know about and about which you can’t speak to anyone—in the middle of anything like that Jesus still has the nerve to say:
Lift up your head—redemption draws near!
He not only said it earlier, He said it later from the cross!

jim mcguiggan: holywoodjk@aol.com

Nothing! Absolutely Nothing!

“And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,
if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
Romans 8:17.
Heirs with Him, sufferers with Him, glorified with Him.
It’s fairly easy for us to think we are heirs of whatever God has in mind for us (see 4:13, 16) and the promises of Abraham, expanded by Paul from Canaan to “the world.” Note 8:18-21.
Those of faith are heirs but 8:17 says Christ too is an “heir”. Jesus Christ is the man GOD is being but it’s critically important that we remember that He is the MAN God is being. He’s one of us. What God’s law/will for us couldn’t bring about because of our moral/spiritual corruptness (5:6-8) God accomplished by sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh (humanity)—8:3; John 1:14; Hebrews 2:10-14.

Romans 5:20-21 provoked the need for Paul to defend his gospel and its relation to the law/will of God (6:1-2) and the discussion goes all the way through to 8:13. At that point he returns to the Abrahamic promises (4:1—5:2) as they are fulfilled in the Lord Jesus (note 5:17, 19, 21). Note the words “glory” and “reigning” and “tribulation”.
Well, that’s all very well, in Adam we inherit sin and death and in Jesus we inherit forgiveness and life, but where’s the glory? It’s coming, in its fullness. Yes, that sounds like “fine print” that undermines the reality promised. If glory is “in Christ” those who have trusted themselves ought to have it now. Where is the glory that’s promised?
We inherit and reign with Him if we are “in Him” and are one with Him (8:17). He is not only the author and guarantee of life and glory He is the way, the model, of how it comes about! This entire section 8:17-39 is part of a theology of suffering that multiplied millions never earned in a world they didn’t build. But it deals particularly with the mission and destiny of the Church.

8:28-29 says all things work together for the good for the called who love God, “for whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren…”

The section is not saying Jesus was kind, compassionate, righteous and more—of course He was/is all that. That’s not the point here. God eternally purposed a People (the Church) who would image the Lord Jesus in His suffering and the glory that followed (see 1 Peter 1:11; Luke 24:25-27, 44-46; Matthew 16:21-23; Acts 17:2-3, passim).
He came into the world to share the suffering of the world, to weep and hurt, to anguish over their disease, to take on His heart their illnesses and destroy Death(Matthew 8:16-17; Heb. 2:14) and experience the injustice they lived under—He wanted to be our brother and wasn’t ashamed of that (Hebrews 2:10-11; 11:16). He modeled life lived for God in a world that has experienced a cosmic moral wreck (1 Peter 2:21; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Ephesians 5:1-2).
He saw their weariness and watched the powerful humiliate them and enslave them, He saw religion that should have lifted their hearts and given them assurance become chains that bound them and further wearied them. He denounced and damned all that but He did more, He chose to share it. He didn’t worship pain! He didn’t shrug at injustice and oppression, He came to expose and destroy it! This is what the Church is called to be and do—image Jesus Christ. Jesus is not the firstborn alone! He wouldn’t have it that way! He chose to be the firstborn among many sisters and brothers! He wouldn’t distance Himself from us; He was GOD with us! Living with us amid the ruins!
So we aren’t getting our rights, so we’re suffering injustice, so our prayers aren’t being answered how and when we think they should be. So we’re sharing the world’s cancers, heart diseases, broken marriages, humiliation, loneliness, confusion, so we wrestle with drives we never invited into our lives and can’t yet get rid of them—so we don’t get exemption from the crushing experiences of the human condition. Should we shrug at all that as if it were nothing? He didn’t! Look at Jesus! Dear God, look at Him! Does He look or speak as if such things don’t matter to Him? Was He sadist or masochist? Did He act like that?
Romans 8:31-39 says nothing we see, hear or experience proves God doesn’t care! Nothing! Over against all the horrors, the agony, and anguish, over against all the unanswered questions and the hard religion and theology that arms itself with verses from here and there—over against all that stands Jesus Christ and beside Him men and women, girls and boys who have been called to be conformed to image Him that He might be the preeminent One among many fellow-heirs.
The current suffering is not worthy to be compared
to the glory to come. (8:18)

(Holy and Compassionate Father, you know how hard it is for the real sufferers to believe you care. For them life is savage! But if you are really imaged in Jesus Christ we trust you because He trusted you and we wish to image Him as He images you. Help us to believe that our share in their sufferings plays a part in glorifying Jesus. We’re profoundly glad that you will judge the world in fairness and righteousness in and through our Lord and Savior Jesus and we think noble things of you. In the name of Christ and for the sake of the plundered poor whose brother He is we pray.)

 

 

“Something in Common.”

When we come face to face with serious and sustained trouble it’s not easy to believe that countless lovely things are happening in life! Your beloved one dies and you half-wonder why there are still people enjoying one another’s company. Why are aren’t the clocks stopped, how come birds still fly? Why aren’t all the deer standing still and silent as though they too are stunned by your grief? Why is it that cars continue to rush by and why are children still laughing as though they can’t stop? Life goes on and rationally we know it makes sense but emotionally we want to scream for noise to cease. He left you for another woman or the wife you adored said she wanted to be free—she didn’t know why, had no explanation, but she’s now gone and there’s nothing you can do about it. Financial ruin, a son and suicide, a parent and relentless disease, a daughter, drug-addicted, pregnant, marrying the drug-addicted father.
One day this will happen; you’ll be faced with something you can do nothing about. You’re not wise enough, equipped enough or emotionally strong enough—not to face this! Not This. Other things, many of them, and you made it through somehow, but this—this is different. So you slip off to some isolated place, a hill outside of town maybe, and there you begin to sob your heart out. When you’ve wept and can weep no more you hear someone else sobbing and moaning; you can’t help it, you must check and there, just beyond where the hill twists, not far from you, you see Him. Eyes streaming, chest heaving, bowed head, between his hands, sobs getting louder as you get nearer. He’s in too much pain and you just can’t let Him be like that alone. You put your arm around Him and gently ask Him if He would like to tell you about it and He tells you the awful thing that is going to happen and that He can do nothing about it—absolutely nothing. Then with his face wet with tears, He asks, “You too?” You tell him your heartbreaking story while He listens intently. He then puts His arm around you and whispers, “You and I have a lot in common.” He asks your name and you tell Him, “My name is, ‘Every One’.” You ask Him His name and He says My name is, “Me Too.”
Luke 19:41-44; Matthew 6:36-38.