Hope for troubled times

Have you watched the news lately? I can’t say that I blame you if you haven’t. There really is nothing but bad news these days. Whether it’s ISIS or North Korea, it seems like civilization stands on the brink of devastation. The pro-choice lobby is stronger than ever. The euthanasia debate has even come back to the fray in recent years. The faces of hopelessness have become even more real.

Is there a better time than now for the Church to rise up and declare the hope we have?

In Colossians 1, the Apostle Paul begins to reveal his ministry to the church at Colosse. Paul wrote the letter from prison after hearing that the Colosse church had begun to believe a mixture of false doctrines. Among those beliefs was the heresy of Gnosticism.

The Gnostic belief that reduced the role of Jesus from Saviour to just another source of knowledge, had quickly distracted believers in Colosse.

To this attitude, Paul asserted that God was using him to make known the full message of Christ–a message that was hidden in mystery to the Colossians because of their mostly Gentile background and their drift back into heresy.

Paul said the key to the mystery is “Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).”

What we have then in Colosse is a church in which Jesus had become a lesser thing. Christ was now just another means of knowledge unto salvation, rather than the hope of all the world.

It was a church that had become just like its surrounding culture.

Sound familiar?

Could it be that the world is hopeless because much of the church has become hopeless in our day?

Is the Church in America merely an empty shell in today’s culture?

The Church, with Jesus Christ as it’s head is still the hope of the world.
Where Jesus is still the central theme, there’s still hope. Where His Lordship is still celebrated, there’s still hope.

Pastor, if Jesus has become a lesser thing in your sermons, your worship, and your everyday walk, please put Him back where he belongs.

The hopeless world cannot afford to have a hopeless church in this day.

 

This is an updated post that originally appeared on j31.org in 2014. 

The Christmas Story: To Be Continued

He wasn’t coerced, manipulated, bribed, or threatened to leave his lofty throne and live among a bunch of peasants.

This wasn’t some slapdash, haphazard, last minute plan to save humanity. There was no plan B, no alternate ending.

Our Immanuel was not the victim of some cosmic bait & switch in which He would unwittingly become a reluctant sacrifice for all sin. Nor was He some shrewd operator who was promised Universal Kinghood in exchange for His blood.

He was not a Heavenly escapee who would eventually be executed by a vengeful God for His crime.

Israel’s Messiah was not some imitator whose lofty words & claims couldn’t be substantiated.

He didn’t shed His Godhood as a prerequisite for His demotion to earth.

There was nothing spectacular about His earthly parents, His place of birth, or His upbringing.

There was no person, palace, or playground worthy of His presence.

Yet, He came.

In His Heavenly role, there were no restrictions of time and space. On earth, a suit of flesh physically limited His comings and goings.

He was the embodiment of the Word of God¬ spoken from eternity past–ageless, pre-existent, eternal in nature.

He was present at creation.

He walked with Adam, spoke face-to-face with Abraham, wrestled with Jacob, and had conversations with Moses.

He encouraged Joshua; spoke to Job out of a whirlwind, and walked in the midst of a fiery furnace with three Hebrew boys.

However, it was His ministry as the God-man that changed the course of human history.

That was the plan all along.

An angelic host, a handful of shepherds, and some wise men from a far country lauded his incarnation. His very presence threatened governments, religion, and evil.

His adolescence and early adult life are never spoken of, but the world could not contain the amount of books chronicling every event of His final three years of life.

Many celebrated his death, but His resurrection over 2,000 years ago is still the hope of the entire world.

The story didn’t start in a manger. And it didn’t end with an empty tomb.

This Saviour-Messiah’s story is far from finished.

Just as they waited for His first appearance, so we wait with bated breath for the encore.

The next time around, He won’t come to a stable. He won’t be an adorable baby lying in a feeding trough. It won’t take angels, shepherds, or wise men to publicize the event.

The first time He came as Immanuel. The next time we see Him, He’ll be King.

This Christmas, keep Him central. Tell His story. Celebrate His first coming.

But don’t forget, this story is to-be-continued.