"The task of the Church between ascension and parousia is therefore set free both from the self-driven energy that imagines it has to build God’s kingdom all by itself and from the despair that supposes it can’t do anything until Jesus comes again. We do not ‘build the kingdom’ all by ourselves, but we do build for the kingdom. All that we do in faith, hope, and love in the present, in obedience to our ascended Lord in the power of his Spirit, will be enhanced and transformed at his appearing."This is one of the reminders that I think I might need to put into a permanent sticky note in my head as a Christian who oftentimes forget to keep in touch with reality as it ought to be viewed from a Christian perspective.
Surprised by Hope p. 143
I am sure that I am not alone with this problem.
I often struggle with living out my faith in light of the glorious hope of Christ’s return that I in a way have at one point in my life looked forward to as an instant escape from my personal problems and my inability to live out a faith that not only actively pursues a righteous life but also that of a just society.
Again I am pretty sure that I am not the only one who has struggled with this dilemma.
I believe that we have settled for an escapist eschatology that sees the ultimate purpose for humanity as being sucked into the sky for some disembodied eternal bliss.
This eschatology, has been horribly detrimental to the Church. It has taught us to either flee from the realms of ecology and social justice because God is concerned about the “spiritual” and not the physical (Conservative Protestantism) or to care about them without much good theological reason (mainline Protestantism). If we want to actually appreciate, care and love creation and each other, then a reworking of our eschatology is in order.
This is one of the main themes of N.T. Wright's book entitled: Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, which reminds us that we in the Church have, for long time now, forgotten what the Bible actually teaches about heaven, hell, and the resurrection.
Because a clear understanding of such theological themes as he said would ultimately change our view of worship, Scripture, prayer, justice, mission, beauty, and everything else. Because when we came to faith in Christ, we must remember that we entered a whole new world that was started by the resurrection of Jesus and will be completed when he returns. Our job is to live in that world.
N.T. Wright is a British New Testament scholar whom Christianity Today has described as one of the top five theologians in the world today. After serving three years as the canon theologian of Westminster Abbey, Wright became the Bishop of Durham in 2003 – the fourth highest ranking position of authority in the Church of England. Although he is quite unpopular among evangelicals Bishop Wright is one of those contemporary theologians that I admire for his honest self-criticism of present day Christendom as well as for his dry wit and God-given skill to articulate the same issues within the Christian faith that I myself am also struggling with. J.I. Packer has described Wright as “brilliant” and “one of God’s best gifts to our decaying Western Church,” and I count myself as among those like Packer who is thankful for Wright’s gift of writing about the God whom I believe.