When I started this new website I decided to craft my thoughts around three related ideas; worship, culture and A God who has come, is coming and will come. That last phrase seals it all for me. God lives currently in time. He is across time and in control of time. God come to our world. Yes, he has the whole world in His hands…but he also has your life, home and neighborhood in His hands.
Ok Chad. This is a given (for most people who call themselves Christians). It’s the basic theology of incarnation.
Are we living as though God is truly across and in control of time?
The idea of God and time circles back to the focus area of worship. I define worship broader than songs sung together. I like the idea of devotion being part of our idea of worship. The way we think about God and how he relates to us tells others about the kind of God we worship.
So if we live and act like God isn’t really living inside time how can we tell people that is one of his qualities?
Do you see the importance of all this now?
I think one idea really captures much of what current Christianity actually lives like.
We have bound God out of time in places where he is timeless and placed infinity in other areas where we should have a finite view of God’s activity.
When issues in life come up, many of us struggle with hopelessness. We might give God lip service, because we know we are supposed too, but we don’t truly think he has power of those circumstances. We have taken the reality of God in the here and now out of the equation. We remove God from sovereignty over us.
Slowly we will start to construct a God who is in existence with no power.
It is also easy for us to live as though what we know now will be endless. We forget the final part of the equation. Christ is coming back. What we have currently will go away. We shouldn’t turn into crazy doomsday people, but we should be lifting up Jesus as a God of justice and holiness who has promised to return.
Can we call Jesus the Christ if he isn’t coming back? Would he be all that we say he is if there was no final part of all this? We have no Christ if we don’t have any eschatological (end times) activity (ok..there is my $100 word of the week).
I don’t want to imagine calling all this out without offering what I think to be an option in fixing this? In the industrial world people have to occasionally retool, adapting the current situation to now make a more current product. This approach doesn’t mean throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It means looking at what YOU specifically can do in your situation to remedy this.
How do we retool ourselves toward God and Time?
1. Become a person and community of prayer.
Nothing will lead people into the true understanding of the presence of God more than prayer. I don’t think anymore needs to be said about that.
2. Begin identifying where you unknowingly are holding God back?
I know you aren’t actually holding God back. As if!!! But how are you using language that keeps him out of time in your own hearts and conversation? Do you speak of God as if he is right next to you and involved or as if God is your deaf and bed-bound great aunt? Remember this is primarily a matter of the heart. Our own life decisions give the biggest to witness we are actually allowing Jesus to be Lord.
3. Give God the public authority to move among you and your community of faith.
Speak of God and what he can do when you are talking out loud and gathered together.
4. Begin a vocabulary of past and future.
Identify the times God has moved among you and others in the past. Tell revival stories. Learn when your own church/family/denomination has experienced large moves of God and talk about them. Start projecting of what God will do in the future. This can happen in terms of missional vision as well as the fulfillment language of the end.* Talk about how Jesus is going to fix things.
All of this happens best when leaders are able to accurately diagnose how their communities needs to speak about God. You can’t paint by numbers this. The local church is the essence of the eschatological culture of the community. How is Jesus redeeming your particular place? It is your job to begin telling this story, rehearsing it in worship and leading people to this bigger view of Jesus.
He has come to our world. The whole earth as well as your neighborhood. Let’s talk about it.
*a great resource for this is Robert Jenson’s article “How the World Lost it’s Story“