Thursday, February 6, 2014

Hope and Freedom through the Lense of an Eternal Perspective

Hello all.  I hope you are well.  I know that I do my share of exhorting unto obedience and rebuking of behaviors or thought processes that are not biblical.  While I do this with an unknown group audience in mind, I realize that my messages can be easily personalized and taken offense to as well.  I confess that this is not like your typical inspirational thought for the day that people buy or subscribe to for some light extemporaneous motivation each day.  There is nothing wrong with that, alongside serious time spent in prayer and meditation on the word.  I have tried to think like that for this blog on occasion and I simply cannot do it consistently.  It is just not who I am.   Or at least it is not who I am meant to be through this blog, most of the time.  One thing I can tell you for sure.  All topics are important to me either because they are a struggle for me as well or because they were, and I am on the other side of that battle by the grace of God.  I never blog as one who assumes he has it all together.  Please know that.

My heart for this blog and my heart for you!
I think the reason I do not do well with short, inspirational thoughts is that, I think like a teacher/preacher and that's how I write as well.  Since I do not preach/teach anywhere else at this point, this is my pulpit.  This is my classroom.  Whether I do it well is for the reader to decide.  Whether people's hearts are touched and moved to read it to begin with, much less experience a change of heart or not, is also a matter for God to decide.  I would not dare to pretend that I live what I "preach" here perfectly all the time.  No one does.  My hearts desire in life however is to develop an eternal perspective on life and live with that perspective always in front of me, interpreting all that I say and do.  This desire is the same thing that drives the content of this blog.

I have two great goals in life.  One is to live with a passion for the glory of God to be made known in my life through all that I say and do.  Two is to inspire others to do the same.  Sometimes that means challenging ways of thought or action that steal glory from God.  Other times that means shining light on the hope and freedom that are found in possessing a passion for the glory of God in your own lives.

Both of these goals can only be accomplished if you and I live with an eternal perspective.  This perspective can only be attained with a proper revelation of and a continuing meditation on what God has done for us in His great grace and love for us.  First, let's look at a few viewpoints that do involve a strong, biblical foundation based on faith in Jesus.  Consequently they are temporary or temporal perspectives.

Hope from a temporal perspective.

  • There are those who are professing atheist or agnostics that typically suffer from a naturalistic worldview.  They do not believe that there is anything beyond this life.  Often their view is that we are just a bunch of random particles crashing into each other.  Once you die your just gone.  Not much hope there.  There is no real purpose to life beyond the life you are living.  No hope or resolution through pain and suffering.  No real answers to "life's big questions.
  • Others believe in karma which essentially says "what goes around comes around".  While there is certainly a principle of reaping what you sow in Christianity, it is not the same as karma.  Not only does karma say you will pay for your good or bad decisions now, but that who you are in the next life is determined by how you lived this one.  Not much hope there either.  No hope for redemption if you have really screwed up most of this life.
  • Yet another group believes in God and even in Jesus, at least theoretically or intellectually, yet they do not believe that God is sovereign in His control of everything.  They tend to believe either that He does not know everything that is going to happen, but reacts according to peoples decision or that He is like the great watchmaker in the sky who created everything and set it in motion and now just sits back and watches it go.  Either way, their is very little hope to be had in a God who is not the Sovereign Ruler that the Bible says He is.
  • Still others have some belief in God, but put very little if any faith in the Jesus of the bible.  They want their understanding of God to be whatever feels good to them.  A God whom provides some semblance of hope, and yet doesn't require to much of them.  A faith built on a truth that is relative.  A faith that does not inconvenience them to much and still allows them to do what they want...for the most part.  This most often produces false hope because while they have a faith and a hope of some form, it is misplaced on a deity that looks a lot more like the sinful creation than the creator. (Remember, we were made in His image, not the other way around.)  That is not the God of the bible.  Consequently, it does not exist.  So while they think they have hope, they really have no hope at all.

Real hope from an eternal perspective.
Hope that is real, is hope that is alive.  It is hope that is based in a real relationship with the only true and living God.  Scripture tells us that hope and peace are found in our relationship with God through faith in Jesus.  Contrary to much contemporary teaching, hope and peace are found much more in suffering than in blessing.  In fact many have grown in their faith and intimacy with God through trials and loss than they ever did through the good times.  God's word does not tell us to ignore or rebuke our sufferings and trials in order to find hope.  On the contrary, it tells us to rejoice in our sufferings.  Why?  Because suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.(Romans 5:3-5)

My Savior suffered in ways none of us will ever be able to comprehend.  Far be it for me to suggest that I should not have to suffer or endure trials because I am a Christian when the very one who saved me, suffered and endured great trial for my salvation.  Jesus said that if we are going to be His disciples we must take up our cross and follow Him(Matthew 16:24-26, Mark 8:34-35).  Yet there is much hope to be had in the resurrection that followed His suffering.

God's love for us vs. our love for Him
You see, unlike every other religion in the world, our eternal perspective and hunger for God's name to be made glorious in our lives is not driven from a man-centered, gotta be good enough to get to God, type of religion.  No, true believers have a different motivation.  We realize that our God is better because, while everyone else is pursuing relationship with God as a means to an end, our God is pursuing us. 

Even more mind-blowing than that is this.  Romans 5:6-11 tells us that God pursues us even while we are still in our sinful state.  That when He reaches down from heaven and draws us to himself, we are yet still in our rebellion against Him.  That God sent His only Son to die for His enemies. 

That is worth everything!
I am still blown away when I consider the hope that is found in knowing that the God I put my faith and hope in, is a God who chose me first.  That while I was living in rebellion in so many areas, even while having religion but lacking true faith, He patiently drew me to himself.  And while it was free, in that it cost me nothing initially, it was not unconditional as many assert.  His love is unconditional in that He loves us in spite of ourselves.  There was still a cost to be paid.  The reason we call it unconditional love is because God knew that in our rebellions state we could not pay the price, yet He loved us enough to provide a perfect sacrifice in His Son(Romans 5:8).

No, there was most certainly a price.  The primary condition for my eternal good was this; the price that had to be paid for my sins was Jesus' life.  My eternal redemption cost Jesus EVERYTHING!  It cost Him physical suffering.  It cost Him communion with His Heavenly Father.  It cost Him having to endure the wrath of God being poured out for the sins of all who would put their trust in Him, from creation until His return.   No, there was a great cost and a huge condition to be satisfied for our redemption and Jesus satisfied that at the cross.

Now that's hope!
You really must contemplate these truths.  You must honestly consider that as a Christian you are not just putting your hope and faith in any old God.  You are putting your hope in a God who as Father sent His Son to die for you; as Son, came and lived the perfect life that you cannot live and died the death that you should have died for you; and as Spirit, came to dwell inside of you to change your heart and empower you to follow Jesus through radical obedience.  The Holy Trinity, God in three persons loves you enough to do all this for you and for His glory.

Let's be clear.  Jesus is not the means to an end.  Jesus IS the end.  The goal or inspiration of Christianity is not, what I get out of it, but whom I get out of it.  You get to have eternal communion with your Creator, Almighty God in all His fullness; your Risen Savior, Jesus Christ; and with your Wonderful Counselor the Holy Spirit.  Everything else is icing on the cake.

Do you have an eternal perspective?
That perspective will change the way you value everything else in life.  It will begin to change the purpose for which you do everything in life.  When you meditate on that, you can only come to one conclusion.  I will give everything to live a life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ(Philippians 1:27).  That's a God I can put my hope in.  That is a God for whom I will strive to filter everything I say and do through the lens of an eternal perspective.  Through the lens of the gospel.

An eternal perspective brings eternal hope.  An eternal perspective gives eternal purpose.  If you truly have an eternal perspective, you WILL NOT be the same and you WILL NOT live the same!  You WILL meditate on God's word!  It WILL change your heart!  You WILL repent!  And, you WILL begin to desire to do NOTHING that would steal glory from the one who gave everything to bring you eternal life!

When your view on life says that God's glory in all things is where your greatest satisfaction is found, THAT is hope.  THAT is freedom.  THAT is an eternal perspective. 

May it become in so in our lives more and more in 2014!  May we live lives worthy of the gospel!

In Jesus name,


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