November 23, 2010

are we taken up or left behind?

I've been gone for a while, and I'm sorry about that. Vacation time was good, though I missed my blog especially when it came time to preach the Sunday following. Then a cold took over my body and kept me from sleep, food, and yes even thinking straight enough to blog. I'm still in the fog, but trying hard to get back into routine.

So here I am. I'm back, and I've stumbled upon a line of thought that has me pondering the end of days. Obviously, we are all invited to ponder these things with the Advent 1 lesson from Matthew's Eschatological Discourse, but this morning I'm really feeling it because of the commentary I read from this week. Dr. Ben Witherington looks at those two famous passages about one being taken and one being left and asserts that it is the one who is left behind are "blessed to have escaped the great judgment just as Noah's family escaped the flood."

This kind of turns the world upside down. Popular religious culture has told us, whether we buy their clothes-line theology or not, that the righteous will be swept up to heaven while sinners will be left behind to endure the ravages of the end. What if we aren't waiting to be swept away, but rather we are waiting for God's kingdom to be fully realized on earth as it is in heaven? What if the infidels are to be swept away in judgment and the saints left to inhabit the new heaven and new earth of the Kingdom of God?

It changes things, to be waiting for the Kingdom to come here rather that waiting to be swept away to the kingdom, doesn't it? As Scott Hoezee at the Center for Excellence in preaching puts it, "being faithful to the Lord in our everyday routines demonstrates watchfulness for his return." So, then, are you doing your part? Are you faithful in your routine life? Are you working to clear the path for the Kingdom to come here? Or are you sitting idly by waiting for the great rapture? I'd say the advice in Matthew 24 is "get to work."

No comments: