Living Out of Your Future

I rarely if ever preach an eschatological sermon (about the end times or last things). I’m a presbyterian, and maybe that has something to do with it. Calvin failed to write a commentary on the book of Revelation. I’m told he believed the book was canonical, but perhaps, he didn’t quite know what to do with it.  Through the years, I’ve felt the same way.  Sure, I believe Jesus is coming back as he left.  But, I am reluctant to say I have his itinerary.  This seems all well and good.  Here’s the problem with eschatology avoidance:  We are sustained by hope.  Hope gives us a reason for living and we need that, especially today.

Yes, John wrote down what he saw and heard at a time when the church needed hope.  Domitian, Roman emperor at the time, was a conservative who believed that to protect Rome, he needed to guard the empire from the intrusion of non-native faiths.  He didn’t see the place for Christians in Roman society, I am told.  This put their lives in danger.  What did God give his people during this time of persecution?  He gave them a picture of their future, the book of Revelation.  The survival strategy was to think on your ultimate destination.  The message was: the way you live today will be determined what what you think is coming in your tomorrow.  If we think the world is going to hell in a hand basket, why bother doing anything here to make a difference.  On the other hand, if God has planned to redeem the world, then what we do here takes on a new significance.

Sandy, my wife, and I talked about this this week.  She confessed that she doesn’t think about our future hope. (Don’t you love it when I reveal other people’s confessions!)  I don’t preach eschatologically because I don’t live with the end in mind.  The point is: I should.  The New Testament is filled with references to the resurrection of Jesus as our hope.  We are also challenged to invest and serve here in the earthly city looking forward to the full redemption of creation by God.  We trust that the investments we make in God’s kingdom will be part of God’s newly redeemed world.  It is this world that is our home now, and God promises it will be in the future.  What we do here matters.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58

I like the way N.T. Wright says it:

Domitian - Roman Emperor

Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art or music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of his creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one’s fellow human beings, or to renew any part of the creation; every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honored in the world—all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will make in that day.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Sandy on February 1, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    Amen. I DO think about our future hope. I just don’t get into eschatology :).

    Reply

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