Thursday, October 29, 2009

Empowered By Hope

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
2 Corinthians 5:6-10 ESV
At some point in modern Christianity believers began to listen too much to their critics, and in doing so, we denied ourselves one of the greatest treasures our faith produces in us--the joy of living physically in the present while cherishing the heavenly rewards of eternity.

I dare say that in order to engage in the dialog of modern materialism and existential philosophy (that is, our personal experience as ultimate truth and the consequent ethics of this position), in a meaningful way, Christians have been sheepish about announcing the anticipated treasures of eternity and everlasting life. We allowed ourselves to be sucker-punched by other debaters who insisted that to engage in a real dialog our discussions must pertain to present relevance because it is the material (what we see and what we can touch) that matters in the "real world."

Because we have removed much of the talk about heaven and heavenly treasures from our dialog, it should not be surprising that more and more of us do not believe in heavenly reward, or if we do, we don't really count on it with any assurance, and this is to the detriment of our present happiness as Christians, especially during tough times.

While we have doggedly striven for relevance, we have given lesser attention to the demands of what Paul calls "transformation," as in Romans 12:2:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind....
Instead of transforming the debate into one about eternal relevance, we have tried to win it without our complete aresenal--the joy of living in the present while cherishing the promise of future reward. By debating on the terms given to us, and because we have lost our focus on eternal reward, we have unfortunately proven our critics' points.

Paul says twice in our lead passage today, "we are (always) of good courage." He goes on to say that whether we are "at home or away" (that is, in the physical body or in the future spiritual body with Christ), we make it our aim to please him. This is relevance of eternal significance.

Believers should allow themselves to be empowered by this hope which Paul expresses and not allow the debate to be shifted to subjects which are temporal and of little significance for eternity.

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