Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Contemporary and Timeless

Human life is like a puff of smoke, ephemeral. As soon as we're born we're already dying. Yet we enter the world with eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Christianity constantly affirms both the contemporary and the timeless. 

The sense of eternity and its gravity preserves us, who are to die but tomorrow, from the temptation to "eat, drink, and be merry." And the knowledge that we are dust and will soon return to dust keeps us from taking ourselves too awfully seriously.

One danger of an eternal point of view is, oddly perhaps, a relaxing of personal responsibility in the present. When it comes to ecological concerns, for instance, I've heard it said "it's all gonna burn anyway!" This isn't entirely wrongheaded. The statement  is true inasmuch as the earth will be renovated by fire in the final day (2 Peter 3:10-12). Yet, however right such a conception of final things may be, it certainly does not relieve us of our duties to faithfully manage the resources entrusted to us in the here and now. Eternity ought to only heighten our passion for faithfulness in the present moment.

We are indeed strangers and pilgrims here. And this world is indeed ephemeral. But this knowledge is not a reason for complacency. It's a basis for action. The nearness of the end is repeatedly brought forward by the Bible writers as an incentive to immediate action in this present world (1 Peter 4:7; Hebrews 10:25; James 5:8-9; Mark 13:33-37; Luke 19:13; 21:34). Again and again, those who have been most possessed by eternity have been most useful in time.

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. But today is the day of salvation. We must live as if a thousand years were a day and a day were a thousand years. Our actions today may change the next 1,000 years for the people around us.

We have the unchanging good news. It's always news. It's always good. And it never changes.

Jesus came. Jesus died. Jesus rose. Jesus will return.

"There is something about the experience of getting acquainted with Jesus Christ that gives a man a sense of having entered eternity here and now... So the gospel, old as it may be, is still the news that stays news and is contemporary in its significance and its meaning. It becomes a strange mixture of time and timelessness, for God gives to the Christian something of the sense that time is forever and eternity is now."
  • Gerald Kennedy