Today’s Reading: “I believe in God, The Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord. Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day, He rose again. He ascended into heaven. He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and He will come to judge the living and the dead.”
Have you ever found yourself lost in one of those huge shopping malls?
I remember visiting the Mall of America in Minneapolis and stopping off at a store of interest and then getting so confused about where I was and where I was going to meet up with my family. Thank goodness for one of those “You Are Here” signs that helped me figure out where in the world I was!
As I see it, living in this crazy world can, many times, feel like my experience at Mall of America. I know the basics…
I believe in God.
I believe in Jesus.
I believe He is actively involved in this world…
…but quite honestly, when it comes to knowing where I am in life…
…I’m a bit discombobulated!
One of the biggest advantages for me, when I feel that state of confusion coming over me, is to go back to the basics found in today’s text from The Apostles’ Creed. Let me put it in real, everyday language for you…
Jesus of Nazareth came to earth 2,000 years ago to initiate the in-breaking of God’s Kingdom, His rule and reign. With His birth, life, death upon the Cross, and His rising, Jesus initiated God’s life-saving rescue mission…a mission of redemption and reconciliation that had been planned from the beginning of time, and now, in the fullness of time (as the Gospels call it) Jesus comes to kick off God’s plan. The New Testament tells us about the earliest days of this in-breaking of God’s mission, and as we see from those texts, Jesus didn’t consummate that plan back then, but surprised His followers by saying…
“The time of the consummation is not for you to know. I’m going back to the Father, and in the meantime, I commission you, through the work of the Holy Spirit, to go in my Name, telling everybody throughout the world about all the things I said and did in your midst. And remember, as you go, I am with You to the very end of the age. And at that time, I will return and sum up everything, in the Name of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Now go!” (my summary of Matthew 28: 18-20 and Luke 1: 6-11)
You see, whenever you or I wonder where we are in life, all we have to do is remind ourselves that we live in the meantime, the ‘time between the times,’ or the ‘already but not yet,’ as my pastoral mentor, John Wimber, used to call it. The New Testament calls this unique time we live in “the last days,” and if we check our calendars, these “last days” have now been going on for about 2,000 years!
But don’t be disheartened by that. In truth, you and I live in the most intriguing time in all of human history. Let me explain.
First of all…
Jesus has already come to earth and His first visit accomplished so much more than we could ever hope for or imagine. He came bringing God’s in-breaking Kingdom. The miracles He performed, the salvation He proclaimed, and the way in which He loved and lived, offers unlimited hope to all of us earth-dwellers. Because He lives, (as the song goes) I can face tomorrow.
Jesus’ obedience to the Father, going to the Cross, and dying for our self-centeredness and selfish ways has broken the stain of sin over human-kind. We no longer have to work hard at being religious so God will receive us. His acceptance of us is no longer based on my good works but on Jesus’ act of self-less dying on the Cross on my behalf. I am free because of Christ’s work on His first visit to planet earth!
With Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, both Death and the Devil have received a fatal blow to their powers. Oh yes, Death is still alive and Satan still prowls, and they will continue that until Jesus returns. But the good news is that Death and the Devil no longer have the power to control my life! Now that I’m in Christ, I can walk without fearing these two arch enemies.
And here’s the real kicker…
Because Jesus sits at the right hand of God, He is praying directly to the Father about all of us and all the stuff going on down here. And He’s not left us alone! He has gifted us with the Holy Spirit (more on that next time) who empowers us and indwells us so that we can carry on until we 1) either die and return to the Father, or 2) Jesus splits the skies with His second coming!
You and I are not lost or ship-wrecked. We’re right on time. We live in the time between the times. The age of the Holy Spirit. The time between Jesus first coming, when He initiated the Kingdom of God, and the second coming when He will consummate the Kingdom of God.
So, cheer up my friends. With Jesus, now ascended, seated of the right hand of God the Father, and coming again soon, all we have to do is keep calm and keep going.
For His Name’s sake!
My prayer: Jesus, I stand amazed at all You accomplished on Your first visit to planet Earth. As the last two thousand years of human history show, while Death and the Devil have done horrific harm at times, Your advancing Kingdom has brought an upward lift to all who have received Your invitation. Indeed, the world is a better place, because You live! Now, Father God, encourage me by reminding me that I’m not lost and shipwrecked but simply living in the time between the times. Give me the courage to keep calm and keep going! For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: How does this awareness of the time I live in make a difference in the way I live my life? Are there creative ways I can bring this Good News message to others, offering hope and encouragement in a time where hope seems to be lost at sea?
So, what are you experiencing today as we are Contemplating The Creed?
Over a seven-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Apostles Creed. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Creed home page for ease of use.
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!