Wednesday, November 4, 2009

When are we?

I used to be a big fan of the Television show "Lost" until it got really strange. There was in the beginning a question the survivors of that fatal plane crash asked, "Where are we". As the show progressed however it became obvious that the island where they crashed was not only a geographical place that moved making it impossible to find, but also that it moved through time making it even more impossible to locate. What began as "where are we" soon became "when are we"? and Christians find themselves asking this same question, "When are we"? Are we in a fixed geographical location in the 21st century or as Ephesians tells us, already seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus?

Ephesians 2:1-7 (NASB)
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

The idea of our dual citizenship has not only geographical ramifications but chronological ones as well. Are we living as prisoners in a world fallen and in rebellion with God or are we already seated with our Lord at the right hand of God? The answer to that question comes when we truly grab the promises made to us in scripture. We were dead but are now made alive. We were separated from Christ and the covenant promises but now are now brought near. A look at Ephesians shows the reason for all of the benefits we enjoy and they are summed up in the word "But God’ or "But Jesus" as the authors of our current state.

How we live says a lot about us. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 tells us this:
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
When Paul told Timothy to be aware of such times, we today seem to have forgotten the warning. Sound doctrine seems intolerance, and truth is subjective and relative. We prefer entertainment rather then doctrinal edification. We seek for what we can get, rather then what we can give as worship. We want a gospel of good things for everyone rather then a conviction of sin and error. To use Pauls words, we want our ears tickled.

I find it amazing that of all the names God could have chosen for His people, He chose the name Israel. And while different opinions exist as to what the name Israel actually means, it seems that the context in which the name is given in Genesis 32 favors the literal meaning of "he who struggles with God", over every other option. It seems that God in His wisdom chose to call His people "strugglers". As we consider what it means for the Christian to live in between the times, let us consider that as the true Israel of God (Rom 2:28-29; 4:11-12; Gal 6:12-16) Christians are heirs to the name that was originally given to Jacob; we are strugglers. And isn’t that what it means to live between times and kingdoms? Is there any better description than this of what Christians lives look like in light of the already and not yet? We are called like Jacob, "Strugglers", to wrestle with God and with man and in the end overcome that which binds us.