The world is a mess. Aren't you paying attention?
How can you be an "optimistic local church?"
Are your heads in the sand? Don't you know it's only getting worse?
Aren't you just choosing ignorance in saying that you believe that "God is in a good mood?"
No one has ever just come out and asked me such bold questions, but I imagine they are there. I'm a leader of DreamHouse
, a church that calls itself "optimistic." Just take a look at the news or scroll down your Facebook wall. It doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes-like sense of details to see that things are rough out there. The question I ask myself is this, "What are we optimistic about"?
Allow me to answer.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10 says,
"What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit."
Paul is quoting Isaiah here. In Isaiah 64 this scripture is a prophetic passage about the coming of Jesus. In the first verse of the chapter, we read,
"Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!"
If you read Isaiah like it was written to you for 2015 you might get excited because to a lot of Christians this scripture is the anticipation that Jesus would come and solve the world's problems. Like Superman, or something less commercial, he would come down from the Heavens and trounce his enemies. The hope from this perspective is that even if things really are horrible, Jesus's appearance will fix it.
Here's the thing, the book of Isaiah wasn't written to you. It was written to Jews in exile around 711 BC (BC as in before Christ). The historical context here is that Israel and Jerusalem were in Babylonian captivity. The expectation of God - as being delivered through Isaiah - is that restoration is ahead for God's purposes for His people. This passage is a prayer that is followed by God's answer, ultimately reminding them of His plan for salvation comprising a new Zion that will include the nations (66:18-21).
So when does God's salvation come? When will the nations be included in this new Zion? Great questions. Let's read from the Gospel of John.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
Do you mean to tell me that is your answer??
Jesus's death and resurrection are why you are optimistic?!
In a word - yes. Let's read on from verse 16-21.
"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God."
Traditional wisdom tells us that we don't have an answer for today's problems. I'm not spiritualizing the situation, I'm telling you that in Christ we can live in the truth of His Light. That means we can approach today and tomorrow with wisdom, hope, peace, joy and the empowerment of our Heavenly Father.
The implications of Jesus coming to earth, dying on the cross, resurrecting and giving his disciples his authority is more than we've realized. In Christ, we have been given God's life. Sin and death are no longer holding all the cards. It's our move.
We are an optimistic church because we believe in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior. Jesus isn't yet to be Lord. His Kingdom is here now. There is no separation between us. Now, let's open our hearts to the one's who are in front of us and let's come up with a plan for the next 100 years. There's a big opportunity in front of us.