Friday, June 2, 2023

JOEL COOPER: Stereo vision

“… He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” — Revelation 21:5

These are the words of the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos in the twilight of his life. It was here that the glorified Christ spoke through an apocryphal vision to the apostle in regard to things to come. It is also here that we find a magnificent divine resolution to a deeply fractured and morally dysfunctional creation. God had intended mankind to live in harmony with a super abundance that he had provided.

This was a world that would easily yield its produce and its created mysteries to special beings made in the creator’s own image. Unimpeded and unrestrained, mankind was given the keys to investigate God’s amazement park.

This of course was the intention, yet with the knowledge that given time and a simple test of obedience under the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, man would choose autonomy and the rest is a sordid history of continual misery and evil. This is the world we know having inherited it and it is the only world from which we must struggle to make sense through some philosophical framework and to impose some sense of working order on it through government.

When man broke from God’s simple framework for life, he plunged the human race into a plethora of ideologies and laws that benefit the few at the expense of others, contributing to the cycle of conflicts and wars we have witnessed throughout history and today.

Fear and stress are probably the greatest menace that has emerged from this sinful rebellion affecting most people on a regular basis. Jesus addressing the end of the age in Matthew chapter 24 spoke of a lawlessness that would increase and fear that would arrest the ability of people to show love and care for one-another.

In other words, the world would become such a dystopian environment that fear would rule the day as dread rules the night. But as I quoted from John, there is coming in due time a world of peace and abundant prosperity just as God has promised through the prophets. The great beauty of understanding the world from a divine point of view is that one can comprehend that this entire world drama has not only a beginning point but a conclusion as well.

Without such, one is faced with an open and silent universe without purpose nor any conclusion at all. But the magnificent news is that God has a plan to re-establish order, civility, community and again provide a super abundance.

So, how do we in the meantime who have come to receive the truth, live in a world that is so hostile to God’s purposes? How is it even possible to live in a world without experiencing its fear and dread?

It was the apostle Paul who wrote, “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” — Titus 2:13

In addition, God bore witness to that hope and continues to bear witness to every believer as Peter wrote, “…According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”—  I Peter 1:3

So, this provides us with a strong and sure basis to tackle the issue of fear and dread. We might call it “stereo vision.”

That is to say, with one eye we look straight into the promise of a glorious, re-created world of perfect shalom. This is a world in which there will be no such thing as pain, suffering or death; the same world that Scriptures declare awaits those who love the Lord Jesus and are waiting for him. But what of the other eye? The apostle gives instruction to that as well when he wrote to the Colossians, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.” — Chp 4:5

Here are two practical truths that should catch our attention, walking with wisdom and making good use of time. With the first eye we keep the joy of our great hope and with the second eye we affirm that hope by allowing God to “establish the work of our hands.” — Ps 90

This truth provides us with a sense of enduring value to our work in this world.

What all this means is that in a world that has lost its way, with its purpose and meaning, the believer through stereo vision can contribute good works, bless that which is truly good and thereby provide a positive and attractive witness toward others knowing that God will someday bring all this to a magnificent conclusion establishing a new world beyond our comprehension.

Joel Cooper is the senior pastor at Grace Community Church in Howard City.

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