“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.” —Hebrews 4:9-10 (NIV)
As we close 2013 and move toward yet greater social chaos in 2014, it behooves us to reflect on where we are both personally and socially. I would suggest that there are generally three major groups in this nation:
- Those, either liberal or conservative, who have no concept of transcendent intervention by God in the management of history or the planet
- Those who believe in God’s existence and general intervention but are either so busy managing the challenges of their own lives or whose theology prevents them from seriously engaging the social conditions of mankind, and
- Believers who have chosen to engage for either humanitarian or “Kingdom of God expansion” reasons.
The first group, liberal or conservative, will either hinder or accelerate God’s purposes based on God’s desires to intervene according to His historical timelines for the church’s maturation and Christ’s subsequent return. We “activist”-believers are, therefore, used by God to influence them in multiple ways as His ruling scepter instrument (Psalm 110:2-3).
The second group, the “apathetic by virtue of personal pre-occupations” or “the unengaged by reason of God’s eschatology of permissive tolerance for the capture of the earth by pervasive evil” are largely non-players in terms of earthly cultural change.
Indeed, it is those of you like myself who see the connections between spiritual maturity and the active engagement on behalf of God in issues of justice and righteousness (the third group) that I wish to briefly engage. Our challenge is not “to engage or not engage,” but rather how to engage with wisdom, leveraged strategy, and a spiritually healthy balance between self-consciously living in “two worlds” at the same time. For us, we live and labor in the world system while living and operating within God’s Kingdom simultaneously. Indeed, this is a precipitous tight-rope act!
We must carefully monitor the spending of our passions to “change what is” for Christ’s sake and measure our passions, energy, and presence for what Christ has already given to us as full participants in His church, His people, and most foundationally, in our personal-spiritual lives in God. Our passions for current change and Kingdom progress must never be allowed to smother the eternal realities we already have in Christ and all His inheritance in God offers us in the “now” of life. Are you with me? Our goal is not to merely survive this tension, but master it in the Holy Spirit.
I am trusting that those of you who grasp what I am earnestly trying to communicate, in spite of my verbal inadequacies, agree that our common challenge is simultaneous external and internal transformation with sustainable optimism and managed fatigue. For us, defeat is withdrawal, burn-out, or diminishing spiritual vitality. Having said this, my friends and fellow workers, may God grant us all His grace and mercy for 2014. May we labor and rest as the Master has promised. And that is… The Bottom Line.