Jun 22, 2020
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
What's happening around the world reminds me of a situation Paul addressed when he wrote his letter to the church in Rome. As I watch the nation tire of the pandemic, people forget the disease has not been conquered. It is still as contagious and as dangerous as ever. The spread has not stopped.
Federal and state officials gave us some pretty drastic measures to slow the spread, and it worked while we implemented them. We stayed in our homes, and instead of the predicted hundred million infected, we stand at just over two million. Instead of more than a million dead, we are just over 115 million. But we tired of staying at home. We decided we didn't want to wear masks or keep our distance.
The number of cases across the United States is showing our dislike of being told what to do. Some are saying the increase in numbers is the second wave of the pandemic. Unfortunately, it is not. It is our failure to do what would stop the disease from spreading. The second wave will not come until late fall, October or November, when the virus will again race through the world with another equally virulent strain, just like a flu season. We understand how coronaviruses operate. This virus is just a new one, more contagious, more deadly.
In our haste to get out of our homes, we forgot the rules about what keeps the disease at bay. It's not that we can't get out of our homes, but we have to do the things that keep us safe. Masks to stop asymptomatic carriers from spreading the virus to the vulnerable in our population who then take it home to the rest of the family.
Scientists estimate that 85% of those infected, now, are infected by another family member. That happens because someone carelessly goes out without thinking about risks to others and spreads the disease. The unmasked share the virus, and one of them takes it home to their family, and more than half of that family will end up in the hospital. Those are the current statistics.
So why does that careless transmission remind me of Paul's letter to the Romans? Because there were some, who received God's grace, his forgiveness, and thought they could just take advantage of it. Here is Paul's answer to them.
What are we to say, then? Shall we continue in the state of sin, so that grace may increase? 2 Certainly not! We died to sin; how can we still live in it? 3 Don't you know that all of us who were baptized into the Messiah, Jesus, were baptized into his death? 4 That means that we were buried with him, through baptism, into death, so that, just as the Messiah was raised from the dead through the father's glory, we too might behave with a new quality of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection.
6 This is what we know: our old humanity was crucified with the Messiah, so that the bodily solidarity of sin might be abolished, and that we should no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 A person who has died, you see, has been declared free from all charges of sin.
8 But if we died with the Messiah, we believe that we shall live with him. 9 We know that the Messiah, having been raised from the dead, will never die again. Death no longer has any authority over him. 10 The death he died, you see, he died to sin, once and only once. But the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way you, too, must calculate yourselves as being dead to sin, and alive to God in the Messiah, Jesus. (Romans 5:1-11 NTE)
The more I read and study Jesus' words, the more I understand his kingdom is already here. Jesus' death and resurrection inaugurated the coming of the kingdom to earth. He is the king of the kingdom of God. God invites us into his kingdom as his children when we believe in Jesus as Messiah, the one sent by him to redeem us from our sins. When we ask for his forgiveness, his grace is abundant and he gives it freely, recreating us for his kingdom.
There will be more to this re-creation to come when he returns. Our physical bodies will be transformed into something we don't yet understand. We will obtain a physical form like his resurrected form. One that you can see and touch, yet can appear behind locked doors and disappear without warning as Jesus did during those forty days after his resurrection. We don't understand the physics of how that can happen, but if the early Christians willingly gave their lives for the story of the events, I expect we can believe in their authenticity.
To those who would say, “It’s just not possible.” I would retort, “Neither was flight 150 years ago. Neither was the thought of traveling to the moon 100 years ago. Dark matter was thought a ridiculous hypothesis when posited by Lord Kelvin in 1884. It almost ruined his career as a physicist. It did no better for Henri Poincaré in 1906 or Jacobus Kapteyn in 1922. And the hypothesis wasn’t taken seriously until the 1960’s and 1970’s when nothing else could explain some of the action of subatomic particles physicists saw in cyclotrons.
So what else don’t we know about the universe? For one, we don’t understand how creation happened. Let’s assume for argument’s sake there was a big bang. How did the big bang happen? Where did the material come from? Who compressed into a form that made it bang in the first place? Genesis doesn’t say how. It just says out of nothing, God spoke and there was light. We can find as many arguments as there are people as to how things evolved from there. But it seems few want to argue backward from the bang.
How will God re-create a new heaven and new earth? I don’t know. Will we all “go” to heaven. The more I read, the less I think we will. The more I read, I think heaven will “come” to earth. Remember Jesus’ message? The kingdom of heaven is near. God’s kingdom is near. This is what the kingdom of God is like. He tells us to pray, “Your [God’s] kingdom come, on earth…”
So what does that mean for us? I think it means we need to prepare for his coming when he will reign in his new kingdom here. Will he remake it and restore it? Yes. But maybe, just maybe those who follow him will be left to help re-create it into God’s original design for his kingdom. And what was that original design? Humanity caring for all of his creation - tending the animals; caring for the plants; helping each other; living in harmony with each other and with God; God walking in his kingdom with humanity.
I think it also means the more we mess up this place now, the more we will have to clean up when he comes. I’m not sure he will wave a magic wand and make everything go away. Could he do that? Sure. Will he do that? I’m not so sure about that. “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” cannot be found in the Bible, but Solomon and Paul imply it. James almost tells us the same thing. It may be that 1,000-year reign Revelation talks about is the time it will take to put everything back the way it’s supposed to be.
So now that I’ve rattled your theology with some things to contemplate for the next week or month or lifetime, I invite you to read carefully Jesus’ words. Don’t just skim through them the way we usually do because they become so familiar to us, but really read them. I think you’ll find that nowhere does he say his followers will “go” to heaven or his kingdom, but rather the kingdom will “come here.” Think about what difference that makes in how you live day to day.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked NTE are taken from the NEW TESTAMENT FOR EVERYONE: Scripture are taken from The New Testament for Everyone are copyright © Nicholas Thomas Wright 2011.