Monday, December 08, 2014

How my belief in heaven is being corrected

My dog ate the post I was supposed to do nearly a week ago.

Scroll down a bit to see my previous, and far too lengthy, introduction to this topic.

1 Corinthians 15 is a marvelous chapter.  It is filled with a difficult and fascinating discussion regarding our bodies and our death and our fate beyond the grave.

I'll suppress the temptation to talk about the whole chapter and just say that it is mainly about resurrection.

Now, at the very end of a chapter on resurrection, if you grew up spiritually in an environment similar to mine, you would expect something like this:

"Therefore, stand firm and hope for the future!  For everything will eventually be made right.  We will be in Heaven, and everything will be perfect."

The world is bad, heaven awaits us, and we must just wait and hope for that day to come.  Right?

Well, Paul actually says this:

1Cor. 15:58    Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Because of the resurrection, work hard?  Because your labor is not in vain?

This is the aspect of hope, so present in this passage from Paul, that I was missing.

Since, in Christ, we are to be in resurrected bodies one day, work hard.  Not wait, and just sit around for God to make everything right in Heaven one day, but work because it's surely not in vain.

Every single act done in Christ will somehow be redeemed in our resurrected state.  How?  I have no idea, but I'm not sure that it entirely matters for the moment.  What does matter, is that saying every single thing I do in Christ will be redeemed is vastly and drastically different than saying that only winning souls for Heaven will last.

Jesus' business is about the redemption and resurrection of all things.  Our work towards these all things is not in vain, and will be honored, somehow, at the end.  This is a motivating, hopeful, and powerful reality that has been sinking into my heart over the last 5 years.

During the protesting in Venezuela (or the deportation, or teachers' strikes, or the death of a president, or presidential elections…) we were almost completely unable to do traditional campus ministry.  We could not get on campus, hold small group bible studies, have spiritual conversations, facilitate english clubs or anything else that we would have hoped.

If Heaven/Hell were all that mattered, then our work was mostly in vain.

But Paul says that everything done in Christ is surely not in vain.  How is it not in vain?  Well that's not necessarily for us to know -- it's ours just to know that our work is not in vain.  It matters.  Everything we do matters.

We were paralyzed during the rioting and protesting.  We were stuck in our apartment complexes, unable to get on campus.  We needed a fresh vision of God moving and redeeming things even in the midst of that.

Think of all that God could have done!  We could have held prayer meetings with students about the state and future of their country.  We could have lovingly embraced those in our neighborhood in new and creative ways.  We could have invited these hurting people into our homes, sharing our american goodies, our peanut butter, and just listened as they convey the pain of their current reality.  We could have opened our pantries free for anyone needing milk, or toilet paper, or sugar -- all things in shallow supply.  We could have held children's programs or reading programs or english lessons in our apartment complex for these people starving for a diversion.  We could have held a movie night for our building, and used our ministry expenses to provide popcorn and soda.  We could have facilitated open forums on the political realities, giving no opinions whatsoever, but just creating a place for ideas to be discussed peacefully and carefully.  We could have offered to host a dinner-party in which we study God's word and pray for peace and harmony together.

Some of those things we did, and they were surely not in vain.  Others I wish we would have done.

Because eternity matters, and not just because souls will go to Heaven.

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