I confess I am somewhat of a political junkie. I also love analyzing culture and how it is impacted by either secular philosophies or (to a lesser extent nowadays) Christianity. My all-time favorite quote is “culture is religion externalized.” Whenever my husband and I would get to talking about society or the state of our country today, he would often say “You’re such a pessimist!” I, of course, would proudly retort, “No I’m not, I’m a realist!” However, lately I am beginning to question my definition of reality…thank God!!
Back during my formative years as a Christian, there was a lot of emphasis on eschatology or “the last days” made popular by a book called The Late Great Planet Earth. The book emphasized the extreme persecution and evil that would occur shortly before Christ’s return. So now as things seem to get progressively worse in society and the world, it’s like I expect it! Such thinking can paradoxically be both a hope-booster and a hope-killer! On the positive side, it means Christ’s return is growing more imminent. However, on the down side such a negative focus on the growth of evil in the world can lead to feelings of hopelessness as the light of the Gospel seems to be fading.
That’s where good gospel preaching comes in! I owe my change in thinking to the various sermons we’ve had while we’re on sabbatical from Deuteronomy. Even though we’ve jumped around to different books in the New Testament, I have been struck by a positive chord running throughout: Jesus has inaugurated His Kingdom project of reclamation, redemption, and restoration and is using Spirit-filled repentant sinners to bring it to completion! How hopeful is that!?! We do not have to be held back by feelings of guilt and shame, but like Paul we can pursue a life of service motivated by gratitude to our Heavenly Father and King (Phil.3:12-14). We have been commissioned by Christ to do so by making more disciples for His Kingdom, and we have the promise of His Presence with us always to accomplish it (Mt.28:18-20). And, as the last two weeks’ sermons have demonstrated, Christ’s Kingdom is both unstoppable in its growth (Mt.13:31-32) and pervasive in its influence (Mt.13:33).
Mmmm…prevailing and pervasive…I think it’s getting harder to be a pessimist!