Preparing the World for the Day of Visitation

I recently sent an email to a large company about a problem I had with their product. Seemingly the moment I sent the email I got a well-thought-out, compassionate reply. It was so well-thought-out and so compassionate I knew that there wasn’t time for a human to have written it. I just got a form letter reply to my genuine concern.

I understand why a company would do this. They want their customers to know that they care and truth be told, they probably have received this complaint many times before I reached out. But in their efforts to show concern, I couldn’t help but feel they were not concerned at all.

As a Christian pastor, I have similar conversations that I have to struggle to be present in. There are objections to following Christ that I hear but I want to give a form response to. There are ways of viewing the Scriptures that are not faithful to the tradition that I want to give a form response to. And there are people who blame their problems on God and want me to defend God who I want to give a form response to.

 In these times I have to choose to be more present than ever. Because the opposite is to convey that their concerns are no concern of mine.

It seems that almost weekly, I interact with someone who finds the teachings of the Bible to be a stumbling block to following Jesus. Now I teach from the word of God every week. I fellowship with God through studying, reading, and memorizing the Bible. I love the Bible. But some people have been taught that the Bible is to have a place in their life solely reserved for the resurrected Christ.

When these people come to me with their concerns about this Scriptures, I have to deconstruct an entire way of looking at the Bible that is not faithful to what the authors of the Scriptures intended. These people have been formed by a culture completely foreign to the writers of the Bible.

We likewise have a problem understanding what the Bible is teaching. The Bible was written by a group of people we do not understand, to other people we do not understand, in a language we don’t understand in the midst of a culture we do not understand. The best we can do is try to study the background of the text, the people who wrote it, and the people receiving it to try to discern the meaning of the book we call the Bible.

As an American teaching Americans, there is a whole other layer to our difficulty in understanding the Bible.

Virtually the entire book was written by and to marginalized communities. And for many American Christians this is a foreign concept.

This is partly why admissions is so important to Western Christians. It gives us a glimpse into what the persecuted church looks like and how faith can thrive when society and even our bodies are suffering.

This week, Christianity today had an article entitled Haitians Are Ministering at the End of the World. It speaks of pastors who are risking their lives to carry the gospel in communities that are being completely destroyed by the effects of sin.

These men and women of God are faithfully carrying the grace that they have received to those on the margins of society. The article details senseless murders in marauding. Civil society has collapsed making way to a failed state. Haiti is ungoverned and ungovernable. And there is no easy answer in sight. When we read Christian journalism, we expect the articles to turn to a “but God” phase of the story. This one doesn’t. It just details the work of faithful Christians in the midst of unfathomable suffering. But this suffering isn’t for nothing.

In 1 Peter 2 we see the apostle begging new converts to live like these pastors in Haiti. The author of 1 Peter says that people will ridicule them and disparage them but he implores them to continue to behave as Christians. Why?

The Day of Visitation

Peter says that at some point Jesus is going to show up, and when He does, people will recognize Jesus because of the behavior of the Christians.

This is an amazing picture that every believer should pray and fast to lay hold of.

Jesus is going to show up to a group of people who do not know him, Peter says. And when He does, they will recognize Jesus because they had already seen Him in His followers. This is the work of Holy Spirit that we need today. This is how we should be praying and choosing to live.

We live in a sin saturated world and sinful desires get the biggest headlines and the most press. But Holy Spirit is working in the Church through her members discipling the world in the ways of Jesus. And one day soon, Christ will return and will be recognized because of the love His followers have shown.

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