Stories Told in the New Eden

I’ve written about the wreckage we live in, this side of Eden. Sin has messed us up, it has messed up the world; but both you (and I) and the world have hope for renewal.  Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28). He was talking to the 12 apostles, but we will experience this renewal of all things too.  Heaven is no vague thing with us floating on a cloud, that’s a secular version, not what the Bible teaches.  Listen, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had passed away…” (Rev. 21:1).  At the end of time, when Christ returns and this world ends as we know it, it won’t go away, it will be renewed!  We will have a New Eden, where we live free from the impact of sin.  Oh, the stories that will be told.  Just imagine…

You’re sitting on the green grass looking out over the beautiful landscape. The sun feels so good, the perfect temperature.  There are ocean waves crashing up against the beach in the distance, creating a soothing sound you love to hear.  And then you see him, walking over the crest of the hill with a crowd.  It’s Moses!  What a striking figure, beard running down his chest.  Everyone settles into place, Moses stands on a rock, and with acoustics that allow all to hear exactly what he says, he starts to talk.  “I can remember the time when we stood in a place much like this.  We could hear the waves crashing against the beach of the Red Sea.  Thousands upon thousands stood behind me, anxious to know what would occur as the Egyptian army raced toward us.  And then, I raised my staff toward heaven…”

CU060711-001hr

Another time and you are visiting the holy land, walking the terrain, thinking about all that has happened here. As you top the hill and look out over the valley before you, with a small creek running through the valley, you hear voices over in a grove of olive trees.  You walk toward the sound and find a group of people listening to the storyteller.  Intrigued you set down among them, and you hear a strapping young man named David begin.  “Yes, he was a big man.  Stood about 9 feet tall.  About the size of that statue Michelangelo made of me years later.  His armor looked like it weighed more than me, his spear was long enough to pierce three men with a single throw.  I would have been unable to defeat him in a normal battle.  But God was with me, and I had a skill.  I went to the banks of that creek you see down in the valley and picked up five smooth stones, putting them in my pouch.  His forehead would be my target.  I sighed deeply, then I started to run toward him…”

David and Goliath

And as time goes by you encounter Noah, oh what tales he has for you, you listen as Methuselah speaks about all that he saw in his 969 years on earth; you set in wonder as Elijah sets the stage for his battle with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. When he’s done, he says he wants to tell you something else that is unique, and he talks of the whirlwind and chariots of fire that took him into God’s presence without experiencing death.  One day, as you have your morning coffee, you see a couple walk by.  They come to your door and knock.  You recognize them somehow.  They want to tell you about naming all the animals, and the joyous time of the first Eden.  Will there never be an end to the wonder of it all?

Then there’s Jesus!  And, us ordinary folk.  We have stories too.  Won’t it be grand?!

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev. 22)

Advertisements

Living in the Wreckage of Eden

Oh, what a sight it was. As he looked out over the landscape, he couldn’t help but think this was something amazing.  Animals gently grazing, fruit trees with luscious food, a stream running smoothly over rocks that seemed to be placed just so, with tender care.  It’s been called Eden, thought Adam.  Adam’s wife Eve was preparing a meal, smiling, beckoning for Adam to come and be playful again.  Things were just so perfect.  But then Eve remembered.  There was another person, with the voice of an angel, but eyes that seemed to contradict the voice.  He was not like them, yet he was like them.  He made Eve think of the slithering creature they had seen down by the orchard one night, almost serpent like.  He wanted to see her, tonight.  Should she go?  There was a certain intrigue about him.  Maybe…

You know the story. And you know the biblical proportions of the damage that was done once both Eve and Adam gave into to the temptations presented to them.  That damage has compounded due to each one of us participating in defiance of our Maker.  You have felt it, and I have too.  The unexpected death of a loved one.  The diagnosis of cancer.  The loneliness and impact of divorce.   Abuse & selfish arguments that defy the good relationship we truly want with the other person.  There are food shortages in much of the world.  Even recently we’ve seen earthquakes and hurricanes and volcanoes erupt.  Wars, rumors of wars. Then there is our society that seems to have gone mad.  People hating other people because of their politics, wanting gun control (but be sure to shoot those who don’t before you put the guns away).  It’s all wrapped up in a word.  We don’t like it much, but we know it.  Sin.

And so, we live in the wreckage of Eden. God placed his angel at the entry, flaming sword in hand, and would not allow sinful man to return to his perfect environment, no fruit from the tree of life.  We’ve been struggling to make sense of things and right the wrongs ever since.  We take one step forward, and two back.  And that’s the nature of things.  Unless.  Unless we can find a way to have a new creation.

cherubim-flaming-sword

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old is gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17) It was promised in Isaiah, “See, I will create a new heaven and a new earth, the former things will not be remembered.” (Isaiah 65:17) And it will be fulfilled with Jesus’ return, “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”  (2 Peter 3:13) And again, from John the Apostle, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had passed away.” (Revelation 21:1).

Is this world messed up? Indeed.  Has your life been messed up at times, maybe even now?  Indeed, I would expect you to say.  But God has not left us to wander aimlessly in the dark.  Through Jesus he has provided forgiveness of sins, a renewed relationship with the Lord, and a pathway back to the wonders and joy of Eden.  The wrongs will be made right, every tear will be wiped away.  Health restored, vigor renewed.  Maybe not tomorrow, but soon, very soon.  It’s what you’ve been longing for.  Me too.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the lamb. And on each side of the river stood the tree of life…yielding its fruit.” (Rev. 22)

To the Closed Heart

I am not better than you, whoever you are. And I’m not the nut “Christian” that you saw on the news doing something political or strange. I am not your judge. I do not have all the answers. But I do have a few questions that I’d like you to consider:

What do you believe? You’ve closed your heart to Christian faith, I’m not sure why, but surely you believe in something. Is it really God you have rejected, or just an inaccurate portrayal of him? If we are honest, even though we don’t think about it much, we know that we face death one day. On what basis do you have hope beyond the grave? If you take the time to really read the Bible, about how God revealed himself in Jesus Christ, how through Jesus he died for our sins, and how through the resurrection of Jesus we can have hope for resurrection one day, that’s a pretty amazing thing. Is that what you’ve rejected? Take a closer look, please.

Are you an atheist? That would seem odd to me. Most people don’t define themselves by what they do not believe. I don’t call myself an “a-Buddhist” or an “a-Muslim” (“a” in front of the word means you are not what follows). Yet some call themselves a-theists. They do not believe in God, and that’s how they define themselves. But I don’t know you: how do you define yourself?

In spite of a huge amount of evidence to support creation and the Bible and the historical person of Jesus and his resurrection, there are tough questions that arise; but tell me, must all of your questions be answered before you believe? In the realm of science, for example, there are many unanswered questions, many mistakes they make, do you fail to believe in science as a result?to-the-closed-heart-pic

Maybe a church or an individual in a church, maybe even a priest or pastor, has let you down in a major way. If that is the case, I am sorry. Really. Too many people suffer from such things. Maybe the person who hurt you wasn’t in fact a Christian at all, many wear the name who do not sincerely swear allegiance to Christ. Others who are truly Christian still make mistakes as they grow and mature in their Christian walk. Please try to understand, that gives further evidence of the sin problem Christ dealt with. It is not a reason to reject him, but a reason to run to him.

If you read one of the gospel accounts (I might recommend Mark, a short, fast paced account of the life of Jesus), I bet you’ll be surprised by the frustration Jesus himself expressed for religious leaders and the people who claimed what they did not live. Yet crowds flocked to Jesus, those who honestly faced their sin and wanted a solution to it. When the Apostle Peter preached the first resurrection message (in Acts 2) people who were convicted cried out, “What must we do?” And Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins…” Many (3,000) responded.

That was just the beginning. Such can be the beginning for you too. Please open your heart back up and consider the true message of Jesus.