Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Radical" ideas

Isn't it interesting how you can be thinking about something and then within days hear a sermon about that topic? Sometimes the sermon confirms what I have been thinking and sometimes it corrects my thinking. And yes, sometimes I have walked away shaking my head and wondering why that pastor isn't as smart as I am. Then I am reminded that he is smarter!
Over this past week or so Mark and I have talked about heaven and the skewed view that many of us seem to have. Somewhere I heard the question, "What are you most looking forward to about heaven?". I started running through my mental list of things. A reunion with my Granny and Grandaddy and Grandma. Getting to know my Grandpa. A sinless life! An eternity in a perfect world. I stopped short when I realized what I was doing. Did you notice? Did you catch what is missing? Where does being in the presence of God and glorifying Him fall on my list? My list is horribly self-centered and self-absorbed. Heaven is NOT about ME. Heaven is about GOD! I did the study a few years ago of Randy Alcorn's book. I have listened to sermon series on the topic. I have attended enough funerals in my life-time to have heard a lot about the subject of heaven. Yet over and over and over again in the church in our culture (I can not speak for other cultures), the teaching may start with focusing on God but it seems to veer away from this to the benefits that we will enjoy. Yes, there are benefits to be found and they will certainly be enjoyable. But those benefits are not the primary reason heaven will be so wonderful. The primary reason heaven will be wonderful is that we will be in the presence of GOD and will see him clearly for the first time. WOW doesn't even begin to express that, does it?

Last night Mark and I began working through a sermon series that our pastor did last fall. This is the Radical series. As we began the first sermon, our pastor talked about the fact that in the American church today we too often see Jesus as a means to an end. Jesus will keep us from hell. Jesus will get us into heaven. Jesus will save us from our sins. Jesus will make our lives easier (and if you believe that I suggest that you go re-read John 15:18-21!). Jesus does indeed save us from hell, make a way for us into heaven, and save us from our sins. But Jesus is NOT the means to these ends. Jesus Himself is the end! When we see Him as the way of accomplishing an end or goal or purpose, and forget that He is very God of very God, we are failing to understand that He is worthy of all our praise and worship just because He is Who He is. Yes, we are thankful for what He does for us, please don't misunderstand me. But He is to be worshipped and praised just because He is Jesus. We don't worship Him because He does or is something, or even for doing or being something. We just worship Him.

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