Saturday, March 22, 2008

Real Faith, Real Change

Barack Obama has had an amazing journey from national anonymity to the main course of American dialogue on this alluring platform of change. Critics have blasted the vapor-like nature of Obama's change. What does change look like? What does it mean? Show us where. Show us how. Show us more. Criticism aside, we now see through polls and caucuses and real-time analytics that there's a critical mass of Americans desperately wanting to boomerang hope and see something good come back.

A central theme of the Easter message this week at church was "change." The change of destiny afforded to believers by Jesus Christ. The promise of a home in a future Kingdom where there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Rev. 21:4). Pastor Ross spoke tonight about the Kingdom end zone. How believers will be resurrected with new, perfect bodies in a perfect earth to come.

I found myself wondering about the atmosphere and physicality of this distant Kingdom. Will I live in a house and joyfully continue my life's work? Will C.S. Lewis live down the block (in a much bigger house) and have dinner parties with little break-out sessions on creative writing? Will every day be a perfect hair day? Will my craving for Tostito's and that artery-sludging (but five-star yummy) cheese sauce finally end? Or will cheese sauce be like broccoli in the new world? It occurred to me there's much mystery around aspects of the future with God. I don't know if we'll be working in heaven. I don't know if I'll be living in a cheery little hut down the road from C.S. Lewis. I don't know if we'll have good hair, bad hair (that looks good to us, anyway) or no hair. I don't know what we will eat or if we will eat.

So, while I was thinking scholarly thoughts about hairstyles in paradise and a big platter of warm nachos, Todd was drawing his own contemporary parallels to change. His focus was on the political landscape where he was reminded of Obama's platform of change. That got me thinking about all the vapor around not only Obama's message, but everyone else's campaign rhetoric, as well. Is it just me, or do the political moorings this season have all the substance of a half-shaved wheel of Swiss cheese?

Thank God for the gospel of Jesus Christ and change that's real and everlasting. There's no thin, misty vapor around the crux of the gospel message: Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again. It's a simple truth. A plain truth. Truth unplugged. And when I put my trust in this truth, I am irrevocably changed. I am dead to sin but alive to God in Jesus Christ. (Romans 6:11). Will you see the change in me? I hope so. But not always. Some days, sadly, I may not look very "Christian" at all. Yet, as a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ, I remain most assuredly and fundamentally changed. I have a different purpose. A different future. A different status as a child of God. Not the teetering, misty promise of a Republican or a Democrat or an Independent or any other man or woman whose sphere of control only extends so far and is ultimately influenced by so many earthly tugs and pulls, and subject in the end to an end. In Christ, we have the promise of a secure eternal destiny. Guaranteed by the only one who has never, ever been misguided, mistaken or misled.

Though it's discomforting in many ways, I appreciate the dialogue that's come out of the spotlight on Obama's pastor, and I was thrilled to read the prescription for healing our racial divisions right there in Scripture: Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. (Colossians 3: 9-11)

The equal opportunity community of Jesus Christ. The answer to the problem that Obama has been compelled to address. God tells us through whom unity is possible. And He tells us how it may be achieved. See Colossions 3: 12-17. Problem solved. (If only we could bind and gag our human nature long enough to attempt what God has told us to do... that's, well, the hard part.)

Are you looking for change this Easter? Real change? Do you want the assurance of life everlasting? The promise of a future with God? Scripture affirms one candidate truly worthy of your utmost trust:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

On my iPod... Keep the Faith by Bon Jovi

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