“God’s living message is very close to you, as close as your own heart beating in your chest” (Rom 10:8, TPT).
These are the words of Moses quoted by St Paul in his letter to the Romans. We could read them today in this way: “You may feel alone. You may be scared about the future. You may be worried for your children. You may wonder if God will do something to protect you. What I want you to know is that God’s living message of salvation is very close to you. His revelation of faith for salvation is truly the news that is good, that makes your heart skip a beat when you realize how near to you is the One who speaks and is the true promise and guarantee of your being loved forever and ever. Nothing can shake that love. In my hands you are safe.”
The ongoing media discussion about the nation’s crises in these early days of September 2021 will never satisfy your heart. It isn’t the “good news” that God knows your heart needs to sing and flourish. It isn’t the “good news” that will guide you into all truth. The constant commentary is like piling up stones and bricks and wood and paint and cement…a pile that never becomes a building of any sort. The arguments don’t hold together. The words don’t become wisdom.
For “In HIM, in Christ,” Paul states, “all things hold together.” This is because “He is before all else that is” (Col. 1:17). Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone of all that exists. Apart from Him we can “do nothing” (Jn 15:5). A Cornerstone “is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation. All other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.”
Nothing in our life or in the history of the world “hangs together” if it is without reference to Jesus Christ. “All before or after Jesus is meaningless without experiential contact with him” (Philip Krill, More Than Conquerors). As you listen to or read social and news commentary on the truly critical issues of our day, ask yourself, “Where is the Cornerstone? Where is Jesus? What is the “glue” holding together this person’s ideas?”
Jesus recapitulates in himself all of humanity and all of the entire creation. It is because of our Bridegroom, the Lion of Judah and the Lamb without stain, beautiful Jesus, Savior of the world, that we can have the expectation that no matter what the sufferings of this present time, the glory of God is to be revealed in us (1 Cor. 2:9).
Paul could be so absolutely certain of this glory because he had been given a foretaste of it on the road to Damascus when he was thrown to the ground before the manifestation of the glory of the resurrected Jesus who called him by name, who knew everything about him, and who had chosen him to tell the world about the mystery of salvation.
Friends, when I see the terror on the face of Afghan women, try to understand the complex situation regarding the crisis at our border, look at so many cities that are now after Hurricane Ida no longer livable in Louisiana and Mississippi, consider the thousands still attempting to escape the Taliban, I too throw myself down at the feet of Jesus, the “one who holds the seven stars firmly in his right hand” (Rev. 2:1). Through the victory of his resurrection he now holds the keys of life and death.
“Don’t yield to fear. I am the Beginning and I am the End, the Living One! I was dead, but now look–I am alive forever and ever. And I hold the keys that unlock death and the unseen world” (Rev 1:18).
To seven churches, the apostle John was directed to write seven letters (Rev 2–3). In these letters to Christians who were suffering persecution and martyrdom for their belief in Jesus, the risen One calls the churches to account: return to the passionate love you had for Christ at the beginning! Do not become discouraged! Do not yield to fear in the face of suffering! Repent of believing the words of men and listen to the Spirit! Flee immorality for I search your mind and heart! Remember all the things you’ve received and heard, turn back to God and obey him! Cling tightly to what you have so that no one may seize your crown of victory! Jesus wants his Bride the Church to burn brightly, bringing light and illumination to the world as a witness of God’s glory.
In the face of the barrage of the words of men–analysis, anger, manipulation, fear–I need help sometimes to cling to the Word of God–to Jesus the Cornerstone, the Bridegroom of the Church whom he has made the Light to the nations. If Jesus called and missioned Paul to announce Jesus to the world, he has called and missioned the Church, and you, and me, in the same way. Each of us has our own unique corner of the world in which we shine, certainly, but we each were created to manifest God’s glory to this world. It doesn’t help any of those suffering so tremendously in today’s political climate if I neglect to be and do that for which God has sent me. It is the glory of God that in mysterious ways more powerfully sways nations and rulers and the powers of nature than any human plan or political agenda.
So let us take as our rule of life these directives to the seven churches: Return to the passionate love you had for Christ at the beginning! Do not become discouraged! Do not yield to fear in the face of suffering! Repent of believing the words of men and listen to the Spirit! Flee immorality for I search your mind and heart! Remember all the things you’ve received and heard, turn back to God and obey him! Cling tightly to what you have so that no one may seize your crown of victory!
Read them morning and night. Remind yourself of them during the day. Post them where you can see them often. Read them after receiving Jesus in Holy Communion. Examine yourself on them as you prepare for confession.
Hold onto faith, preserve your expectation. John Howard Yoder stated when we say, “I hope so,” it is most often a polite way of saying, “it probably won’t happen.” Christian hope, instead, is an absolute unquestioned confident expectation that what we have already experienced in Jesus Christ will give us the courage to put away the fearful questions that haunt our uncertain dreams with the proclamation from the depths of our hearts that Jesus, and only Jesus, “makes all things new” (Rom. 21:5).
If the Church doesn’t hold out this hope for the world, then who will? This is the hope that has saved the world. You and I can be the hope the world needs today.
Image credit: Cathopic, Angie Menes