Monday, July 11, 2011

Beam Me Up, Jesus!

Tonight while I was gathering together with my prayer partners, one of them mentioned that she was struggling with a question: Why doesn't God just beam us up to heaven after we become Christians? She expressed that she was having a hard time figuring out what her role is for God's Kingdom, but even more, what God's purposes are for the world in general.

Her question made me reflect on how I might answer that question based upon what I know from the Scriptures. She suggested that I post my thoughts on my blog, and so that is what I will do now. :-)

Why doesn't God just beam me up to heaven right now?

To me, the answer seems very simple: God wants us to help Him redeem creation. Now, don't get me wrong -- only Jesus could be the Redeemer of all things to save that which was lost.
"For just as through the disobedience of the one man [Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man [Jesus] the many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:19, NIV)
But we are made alive in Christ Jesus when we give our lives to Him, and from that point on we are called to carry on the ministry that Jesus began when He walked the Earth (see Matthew 28:18-20, John 14:12-14, Mark 16:15-18). Why else would God provide the Holy Spirit to us after Jesus ascended? For Jesus said, " will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8, NIV). Jesus instructed us to pray, "your [God's] kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10, NIV). It is God's intent to transform the darkness of this world into light. God wants to overcome and defeat the enemy's camp -- not just rescue us out of it! Considering the lifestyle that Jesus modeled for us, I believe that God wants ALL of us to do our part to redeem evil for good through the power of His Spirit.

Throughout the Scriptures we see that God partners with people to accomplish His purposes most of the time. He instructed Noah to build an ark to preserve the life of His family and animals; He revealed the Law to the Israelites through Moses; He brought judgement upon His people through the armies of Bablyon; He spoke warnings and blessings through the mouths of prophets; He brought the Savior of mankind into the world through Mary; He spread His message of hope through the disciples of Jesus; He revealed spiritual truths to Paul for the instruction of the Church. God likes to use people to accomplish His purposes whenever people are willing to cooperate.

The Lord is looking for those who are willing to take part in His plans. One of the prophets of Israel, Isaiah, reports that God was looking for someone to represent Him to His people:
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8, NIV)
And we see that Jesus also indicates a similar sentiment. God wants to use people in His plan to reap a harvest of souls:
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:35-38, NIV)
It is also interesting to consider that the followers of Christ are collectively referred to as "the Body of Christ." Thus, collectively, we are supposed to be doing the things that Jesus modeled for us on Earth (and "even greater things than these", John 14:12) to accomplish the will of our Father in heaven. How best to help God redeem the world than by operating as part of the very body of the Redeemer Himself?

So, the question arises: How can we "help" God redeem creation?

Here are my thoughts on the matter:
(1) Love the LORD your God (Matthew 22:37). -- From the words of Jesus and the prophets, we know that God's highest desire for us is to love Him and to love other people. By living this out, we are, to some degree, redeeming the relationship with God that we lost at the fall. It is through Jesus's blood and the power of the Holy Spirit that this love relationship can finally be restored, so we should thank God that we have the opportunity to redeem our relationship with Him through His grace!

(2) Look after orphans and widows (James 1:27). -- God wants us to bring relief to those who are suffering. Jesus modeled this in His ministry on Earth. God wants us to give generously to the poor, to look after those in distress, and to bring justice to the oppressed. When we relieve suffering in the name of Jesus, we make use of a negative situation of suffering as an opportunity to minister God's love to someone in need; thus, we are effectively redeeming a person's suffering so that some good results from it.

(3) Destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). -- God wants us to combat evil in the world. As Paul says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12, NIV). Jesus has given us His Spirit so that we can be victorious over these forces of evil in our lives. He has also given us power to overcome all the evil of the enemy and the authority to free others from the bondage of evil (see Luke 10:19). We can work as Jesus's representatives to help redeem people who are in bondage to evil so that they can be reconciled to God and adopted into His Kingdom.

(4) Fill the earth and subdue it (Genesis 1:28). -- God originally intended for man to have dominion over the earth (including animals, plants, trees, and perhaps even the weather itself). He also gave us the responsibility to care for the earth: "The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it" (Genesis 2:15, NIV). Thus, one way we can help redeem creation is by restoring life and order to the earth by caring for our environment. Looking out for the welfare of plants and creatures is part of God's purpose for us!

Let us all take part in God's purposes for the world. God intends for His Church to be a blessing to the world, just as He intended for the Jews to be a light to the nations. All of creation eagerly waits for the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:19) -- and no wonder, if the sons of God are the ones through whom God wishes to redeem creation! When will we finally understand what God's purposes are for us? When will we learn how to partner with God's Spirit to restore goodness and life to the world? We are part of a very interesting plot, and even angels long to look into these things (1 Peter 1:12)! May we view our circumstances with the eyes of Christ so that we don't miss any opportunity to redeem a situation for God's glory! Amen.

1 comment:

  1. I was hoping you would go this way with your answer, since this is exactly what I've thought for a long time. Thank you for wording it so clearly and concisely, and putting it out for the world to see!