Something Greater than 9/11

photo credit: cliff1066™ via photopin cc
photo credit: cliff1066™ via photopin cc

It happens every year when the anniversary of 9/11 rolls around. I find myself wishing that those violent and horrific terrorist attacks had never happened—not only for the lives lost but because of the negative changes that have come to our world as a result of that fateful day.

It’s not that the world was necessarily a nice place before September 11, 2001, but it has definitely been even less pleasant since. Overall, from my perspective, people are less friendly, more calloused, and more fearful. I know it makes me sound old, but there are definitely times when I wish that we could return to the days of yesteryear.

photo credit: diegofornero (destino2003) via photopin cc
photo credit: diegofornero (destino2003) via photopin cc

Still, I have come to the conclusion that nothing good ever comes from fretting over the negative changes in our world. Nothing. Those who fail to adapt to change will soon find themselves mired in misery. A friend recently told me about a study that found the one common theme between people who lived to a ripe old age was their ability to adapt to change. I haven’t taken the time to verify the study, but it makes sense. Trying to hold on to what once was has a tendency to sap the vitality from even the most vibrant of people.

Isn’t it ironic that the one group of people—Christians—who should be most adept at adjusting to change is usually the first to resist anything of the sort. In part, this is because we’ve seen such a moral decline in our culture over the past 50 years. Still, something deeper is at work. We often resist change due to our shortsightedness; we don’t realize that, in most cases, change equals opportunity.

Consider, for example, the sense of anxiety and security that so many people feel in our day. Can there be a better opportunity to point them toward our Rock, the One who provides peace and security in even the worst circumstances? What about the fact that so many people are unchurched? At least these folks aren’t beset by the religiosity that has plagued the church for so long.

photo credit: faungg's photo via photopin cc
photo credit: faungg’s photo via photopin cc

Greater still, overshadowing every negative change in our world is the reality that the kingdom of God is advancing on this earth, that the time of Christ is drawing near, that each passing day brings us closer to the full revelation of our eternal hope.

There’s something exciting happening that is easily missed by the casual observer. The kingdoms of man are crumbling while the kingdom of God draws near. The kingdom of God! It’s that one and only government that can produce a truly peace-filled society. This is not a time to shrink back in fear, or to fret over things that have been lost. This is a time to lift up our heads and open our eyes to the ripening harvest around us.

If I could rewind the clock and somehow stop the events of 9/11 from happening, I most certainly would. But I can’t. Thus, I am working to accepting the realities of this world while pursuing the greater reality of God’s kingdom. For the person who loves God and seeks good, change equals opportunity. Let’s not allow it to slip through our fingers!

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Dancing with Who?

Original Photo by liza31337 - CC By 2.0

Did you know that Hines Ward of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team is doing really well right now on Dancing with the Stars? Baltimore Ravens fans are upset with his success and launching a vote against Hines campaign. Go Hines!

I’m on top of all of this, but not because I watch the show. The Pittsburgh area news stations provide an update just about every evening. To be honest, it all really bugs me! My real concern isn’t about how well Hines is dancing or whether Ravens fans despise him, but why a trivial entertainment issue garners so much attention on the nightly news. But there it is–right up there with earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear meltdowns and global conflict!

As a culture we are losing our ability to identify what truly matters and what doesn’t. We struggle with understanding how key issues relate to one another. More and more, people are critical of others, but not critical thinkers for themselves. Through it all we lose the value of individuality and set ourselves up for mass deception.

I’ve also noticed some other interesting (and somewhat frustrating) trends over the past several months. Readership peaks when I post about finding personal security in the midst of a crazy world, or about the ideal of Christian unity. But when I speak of the concept of covenant and some of its powerful ramifications, interest drops significantly.

This tells me that we are grasping for an ideal which we don’t have a clue about how to achieve. Don’t we get it? One is a prerequisite for the other!

Do you want to find personal security in the midst of an ever unstable and chaotic world? It comes not from some wishful thinking about some far off God who maybe, hopefully might actually care. Personal security is a byproduct of understanding the nature of our covenant relationship with the Creator of our universe.

Do you want to find deep, rich fellowship with other people–relationships in which you are loved and accepted for who you are regardless of appearance, money or status? The substance of such connections is established in the foundation of covenant.

For a long time I mistakenly thought that an understanding of covenant was lost to the western church due to some quirk of history. I’m slowly beginning to understand that we want it to be lost. Real love is expensive! We long for the unconditional and sacrificial love of God to be shown toward us, but like bugs scurrying from an uncovered log, we flee from extending that same form of costly love to others.

Photo by Adam Zivner - GNU Free Documentation License

As a culture we selfishly grab at the sweet fruit of Christianity while ignoring or rejecting its true substance. We’re left grasping for nebulous concepts of love and peace that we will never be able to achieve.

All that we truly desire is found in Christ, but our faith will remain shallow and hollow if we do not adjust our thoughts and actions to His paradigm. God will not yield, not even for a moment, to a human manner of thinking. For Him to do so would mean the destruction of all that is good. No, it falls upon us to search out the ways of God and to align our lives with His divine order.

How does all of this apply to the unity of the church? Unity is possible, but only on God’s terms. If we choose to ignore those terms, we will tremble with the fear of abandonment as this world continues to shake—all while He brings His faithful church to a peace-filled maturity in these last days.