Friday, December 19, 2014

Gospel Hope

I really liked these words from chapter 2 of Brian Zahnd's book called A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace.

Jesus is the Savior of the world! This world that you and I inhabit—where we go to work, do our living, raise our children, and try to find meaning and happiness— Jesus is the Savior of that! Jesus is not a heavenly conductor handing out tickets to heaven. Jesus is the carpenter who repairs, renovates, and restores God’s good world. The divine vision and original intention for human society is not to be abandoned, but saved. That’s a big deal! It’s the gospel!

In fact, in the eight gospel sermons found in the book of Acts, not one of them is based on afterlife issues! Instead they proclaimed that the world now had a new emperor and his name was Jesus! Their witness was this: the Galilean Jew, Jesus of Nazareth, had been executed by Roman crucifixion, but God had vindicated him by raising him from the dead. The world now had a new boss: Jesus the Christ. What the world’s new Lord (think emperor) is doing is saving the world. This includes the personal forgiveness of sins and the promise of being with the Lord in the interim between death and resurrection as well as after the resurrection, but the whole project is much, much bigger than that— the world is to be repaired!

If what we mean by “Jesus saves the world” gets reduced to “saved people go to heaven when they die ,” then Jesus is simply the one who saves us from the world, not the Savior of the world. But this is not what the apostle John meant when he spoke of Jesus as the Savior of the world. John was talking about something much bigger and much more expansive than individuals “accepting Jesus as their personal Savior.” John (and the rest of the apostolic writers of the New Testament) presented Christ as the Savior of God’s good creation and the restorer of God’s original intention for human society. This is the gospel! This is the apostolic gospel, and it’s a gospel that gives us an eschatology of hope. By eschatology of hope, I mean a Christian vision for the future that is redemptive and not destructive— more anticipating the New Jerusalem and less obsessed with Armageddon. In our anxiety-ridden world, who can doubt that we desperately need an eschatology of hope?

Far too many American Christians embrace a faulty, half-baked, doom-oriented, hyperviolent eschatology, popularized in Christian fiction (of all things!), that envisions God as saving parts of people for a nonspatial , nontemporal existence in a Platonic “heaven” while kicking his own good creation into the garbage can! Framed by this kind of world-despairing eschatology, evangelism comes to resemble something like trying to push people onto the last chopper out of Saigon. But this is an evangelism that bears no resemblance to the apostolic gospel proclaimed in the book of Acts. Christianity’s first apostles evangelized, not by trying to sign people up for an apocalyptic evacuation, but by announcing the arrival of a new world order. The apostles understood the kingdom of God as a new arrangement of human society where Jesus is the world’s true King. Put simply: because Jesus is Lord, the world is to be redeemed and not left in ruin.
Brian has hit the nail on the head. In these times, we desperately need an eschatology of hope. Unfortunately, from reading the rest of the book, I am not sure if he has found one yet.

I have always believed that God wants us to have and an eschatology of hope. That is why I wrote my book Times and Seasons.

1 comment:

John Luke said...

Good insight to who Jesus really is
Some people especially Christians have limited him to a blessing God
Forgetting his agony on the Cross of Calvery which gave him power in heaven and on earth.
I think we should be going for his power rather than his blessings since he left us with a work to do
''The Great Commision''
http://rhapsody-of-realities.blogspot.com/