An Incredible Brightness

The world is in trouble, but fret not—the church isn’t. The pressure is on, but it’s been on before. The world even tried to kill Jesus, and look what happened…

“Nothing can extinguish it. To the end of time it shall be there and shall always manifest itself, and men must never lose heart because of that. All [mankind’s ideas and struggles to create his own utopia] are absolutely worthless—the society in which utopianism is the great pursuit is the one who is about to commit suicide. The great guarantee that human life is always worth creating, always worth bringing into this world, always worth living is that there is built into it an indestructible awareness that life belongs to eternity and not to time. [This] shines with an incredible brightness in the one place in the world where you would not, under any circumstances, expect to find it surviving. The Catacombs.” —Malcolm Muggeridge, Firing Line #433, with W.F. Buckley, Jr., Sept. 6, 1980, PBS

Jesus’ followers can be driven underground, but what are catacombs if not bomb-shelters, illuminated not by oil or electricity, but by the songs of the saints.

Shine wherever you are.

—j

The Soon and Coming King

I am not against politics, though I do not like them.

My friend Gayle Erwin recently noted,

“If a politician runs on the “Jesus” platform and is not compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in mercy and truth, mercy to thousands, forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin, then I consider them hypocrites and liars. Support them at your own risk.”

Last Tuesday another attempt was made to lobby me to pulpit-political activism. I know it’s legal for me to talk about political issues and patriotism from my pulpit—I can even publicly espouse or deplore the merits of certain propositions. But—because I have only so many breaths in my lungs, I have elected to spend all I can of them preaching and teaching the Bible. Not the Bible and… There are just too many eternal things to talk about during my one short lifetime to use up good moments rallying people for causes less than Christ. Besides, God is not a Republican—in fact it may shock you to discover He’s not even an American.

I hope people come to our church not to convert to a political view or, worse, to some political party, but to Christ and Christ alone. They already know how they will vote and who they will vote for next election when they walk through the door. Besides, what cause have I to add to any message that could ever equal or even enhance God’s Word of Life? I am both privileged and called to tell them about a King who will come, and that when He does, He will destroy all forms of government except His own. He will not even Christianize the world. He will simply rule it as He sees fit.

Malcolm Muggeridge seems to have been quite a prophet. Here was his take on the subject:

“Whatever may happen, however seemingly inimical to it may be the world’s going and those who preside over the world’s affairs, the truth of the Incarnation remains intact and inviolate. Christendom, like other civilizations before it, is subject to decay and must sometime decompose and disappear. The world’s way of responding to intimations of decay is to engage equally in idiot hopes and idiot despair. On the one hand some new policy or discovery is confidently expected to put everything to rights: a new fuel, a new drug, détente, world government. On the other, some disaster is as confidently expected to prove our undoing: Capitalism will break down. Fuel will run out. Plutonium will lay us low. Atomic waste will kill us off. Overpopulation will suffocate us, or alternatively, a declining birth rate will put us more surely at the mercy of our enemies.

In Christian terms, such hopes and fears are equally beside the point. As Christians we know that here we have no continuing city, that crowns roll in the dust and every earthly kingdom must sometime flounder, whereas we acknowledge a King men did not crown and cannot dethrone, as we are citizens of a city of God they did not build and cannot destroy. Thus the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, living in a society as depraved and dissolute as ours. Their games, like our television, specialized in spectacles of violence and eroticism. Paul exhorted them to be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in God’s work,” to concern themselves with the things that are unseen. “For the things which are seen are temporal but the things which are not seen are eternal.” It was in the breakdown of Rome that Christendom was born. Now in the breakdown of Christendom there are the same requirements and the same possibilities to eschew the fantasy of a disintegrating world and seek the reality of what is not seen and eternal, the reality of Christ.”

I pray our pews (okay, chairs) will be filled with every kind of political animal—who will come because they love hearing about our soon and coming King, and how we will all bow and worship before Him without flags, affiliations, parties or petitions.

Just Him, and us looking at Him. Our King.

Blessings,

—j