Friday, June 27, 2008

left behind?

So I danced around an issue a while back, and it's been gnawing at me a bit. It's a subject I was a bit afraid to post on, not wanting to offend any, or freak anyone out. But if it's honestly something I believe, and not only believe, but believe offers a renewed sense of hope for what lies ahead, then I'm not sure I can sit on it. For the 40+ of you who may read my blog on a daily basis (or 80+ on a every-other-day basis) - if I'm to be faithful to my calling to speak the hope of Christ, I think I should say a word or two.

Before I go too far, I know that many of you may read this, and think "old news". But I think to a few of you, if you're like me, you went a long time without hearing this. Know that I believe Christ IS returning, and has promised to make all things new, restoring/redeeming all things, and giving us a new creation. But an aspect of that belief has changed.

Growing up, I heard a lot of speculation on something called "the rapture". A belief that someday, a trumpet will blast, and our souls will be sucked up out of our physical bodies, and taken to an ethereal location somewhere in the skies. (a Platonic version of soul & body). Our job is to be "rapture ready", so that we're not stuck in these shells when that happens. People I looked up to then, and others I look up to even today, still hold this belief. What I didn't know until the past 6 years or so, was where this interpretation of certain scriptures came from. Or that this interpretation didn't even exist in name really until the very late 1800's.

A little over a hundred years ago, John Darby, and some others defected from the Anglican church. With the beliefs of dispensationalism (the belief that the world/these bodies are all of no value and are degenerating - God must want to save us from them, only "spiritual" things matter) came a different understanding of certain texts that Darby, along with Mr.Cyrus Scofield made popular instantly through the publishing of the Scofield Reference Bible. Religious ranking has always been a popular thing, and so a system of denying "worldly things" as a way of increasing your Holiness like this became a hit from the beginning.

What's left then, if the rapture is just something made up in the late 1800's? Read 1 Corinthians chapter 15. Paul talks at great length about the new, physical "resurrection" bodies we'll be given, to enjoy/live in the new Heaven/new Earth mentioned in Revelation 21. What God has in store is a lot more than just floating around in a golden bliss for eternity. And it's all somehow related to the Kingdom-building work we're involved in RIGHT NOW in this world, in these bodies. I know there are a few scriptures people point to, thinking they refer to a "rapture" type event, even though the word is never used. If you're interested in how these are read outside of a rapture-mindset...just ask.

Do I still believe God is "coming again" to finish everything He began in Christ? Oh boy yes. But I believe focusing too much on being "rapture ready" - anticipating an escape of this physical world - allows us to let go of our calling to take care of these bodies, and this earthly home. God IS coming, to make all things new, and to draw all things completely into His presence. (or pour out His complete presence over all things)

All that being said....we are NOT saved based on our beliefs of what "end things" will look like. But if you're like me, the Hope offered by all of this for the work we're doing today can be VERY refreshing. I'm sorry I've waited this long to say much about it here.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." I'm fairly confident that belief or disbelief in the rapture and events like it do not count as heresy. But I think that there are people on both sides that can miss the hope of a future that has already begun NOW in Christ Jesus.

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