Monday, November 7, 2016

The Need for Balance

Tuesday = elections!!
Many bemoan:
1)  the state of, direction of, leadership of our nation.

Christians also bemoan:

2) the loss of Christian influence (ideals, morals)
3)  loss of religious freedoms 

Therefore:  there is a need to balance 
On one hand -  legitimate concerns, anxiety fear of what's ahead, with
on the other hand - Christian hope, confidence, expectation

So:  Some history:  Jer. 26:1-11 roughly 606 BC
People's answer to Jeremiah - "Jerusalem CANNOT fall because = God's nation (people)
                                                                                                       God's city
                                                                                                       God's temple."

"the fall of Jerusalem would = the end of our faith and of God's (earthly) Kingdom!!!"

JUMP AHEAD 20 years!!!   Jer. 52:12-14, 24-27

Note:  Jeremiah was a prophet but also a patriot!!   He loved Jerusalem, Israel, the people, the temple.
Hence, his next writing = Lam. 1:1, 5

BUT -- the (great) loss of all that did not mean the loss of hope for Jeremiah.
Lam. 3:19-24 - his hope was not in the nation or the temple.  It was in GOD!!!

JUMP AHEAD - 70 years!!  New empire, new King!!  Ezra 1:1-4 - A pagan King!!  told them to "return, rebuild, restore"

POINT:  God's Kingdom is not dependent on any place, people group, city, nation to accomplish His work.

JUMP AHEAD 500 (more or less) years - Jesus' day
Jerusalem = great city, great temple, center of the Jewish faith.  Pride and joy of all Israel  (at home and dispersed)

Matt. 24:1-3 - Disciples' reaction:!!!   - "fall of the temple = end of life as we know it!!"

No Biblical account of this, but much historically recorded (Josephus - lived through this).  Same message and same response as was that of Jeremiah.
AD 70 - Titus came in - total destruction of the city, temple, nation!!!

Transition here - ie:  from Judaism to Christianity.
However - the FAITH MOVED FORWARD!!!!  
Because - God's Kingdom is NOT dependent on any place, people, city, nation!!!

JUMP AHEAD 200 years! - in spite of state sanctioned persecution of Christians, Christianity expanded, grew, spread, multiplied!!  Until it touched Constantine - who converted in 312 AD.   Edict of Milan in 313 AD = Christian religion no longer to be persecuted.

Christianity now = 1) legal  2)  preferred!!   Over next 100 years -
A) grew from 5% to 50% of the Empire!
B) found its' SEAT in the city of Rome!!  (former place of persecution!)

Aug. 24, 410AD
- world's largest city  (800,000)
- center of the Christian church
- not conquered in more than 800 years - known as the Eternal City.
FELL IN 1 DAY!!  to the Germanic (VIS) Goths

Many Christians throughout the world = stunned!  sorrowful!  afraid!!
Because (their view) "As Goes ROME, so Goes the FAITH!!"

In response, Augustine of Hippo wrote "The City of God" - (22 books in 1 volume)
"though earthly empires fail, .... the city of God will triumph"

POINT = strive for balance!
On one hand, #1.   We have good reason to be concerned. 
These things are important.  They shape man's history (child's future)!!
Should be brokenhearted over these - as was Jeremiah, as was Jesus -  Matt. 23:37-38

However, #2.  We also have good reason for hope!!
Because, while it may shape man's history, - does NOT CONTROL God's eternity!!
Dan. 2:31-45   Matt. 16:13-18

Should have great hope (expectation),  BUT
#3.  Hope should not translate into passivity - Matt. 5:13-16  (is never a time for Christians to stop trying to Make A Difference!!  M.A.D.)  Yes, God can get it down without us, but He wants to work through us!

#4.  should also recognize that Our failing does not limit God's ability  Rom. 8:28  "God works...."

So --- look for scriptural) balance between - concern (for what we see might be) and confidence in what will be)

#5.  Christian hope is not generic - ie: some vague notion of confidence in a benevolent Being.  Our hope is in Jesus Christ!  John 14:1 - not enough to have faith in a benevolent God - John 14:6 - Jesus said,  "I am the way....."

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