The end

I came across a post on a friend’s blog this week that I deeply appreciated. It reminded me a teaching series I did once where I shared the experience of having my assumptions, based on scripture of course, challenged by someone who suggested that maybe Jesus’ return would not match my expectations and imagination, in much the same way that his birth and ministry did not match the expectations, again based on scripture, of his followers at that time. I have always been haunted by that challenge; haunted in a good way, I think.

Grace’s post expresses how I have felt challenged by this so, so well:

The people in Jesus’ time were convinced that the kingdom Jesus spoke of would be an overthrow of existing powers in their day. They believed the man riding into town on the donkey would be their Dread Champion. And He was and is, but not in the way they expected.

Likewise, the people of today are convinced that the kingdom of God will be an overthrow of existing powers. They believe that the man riding through the clouds on the white horse will be their Dread Champion. And He is and will be, but maybe not in the way they are expecting.

Apocolyptic language typically sounds violent and tyrannical, especially to the ears of those who believe they might be potential targets of this spiritual army. The people who consider themselves part of the army communicate an imperialistic vision of overthrow and theocratic authoritarian power.

Surely Jesus Christ is and will be Lord over all. Yet we can see throughout scripture that His is an alternative kingdom, a kingdom of love, restoration, and wholeness. An upside down kingdom where the poor, the marginalized, the broken, and children are welcomed and valued; yet entrance is difficult for the powerful, religious, or wealthy…

The references to Jesus’ domination and power over his enemies refer to the defeat of darkness, evil, poverty, and pain. The lost are not Christ’s enemies. So often the wrath of God, His hatred of sin, is communicated as hatred of the lost. But scripture tells us otherwise, that God loves us while we are still sinners.

Categorized as Faith


  1. have you read donald miller’s, Searching for God Knows What? in it, he suggests that jesus coming from nazareth may be the same thing as jesus coming again as a back woods hick from arkansas, with a thick accent, missing a tooth, and just not looking at all like what we expect. would we be willing to listen to that person? he’s not glamorous at all. and i really appreciate your friend’s notion that the lost are not christ’s enemies. it is painfully true that “so often the wrath of God, His hatred of sin, is communicated as hatred of the lost.” so many email forwards i get portray just that. it makes me so sad that we have totally missed the point so often. thanks for the post.

  2. Thanks for the link Erika.
    I agree that it is good to be mindful of continually challenging our assumptions and of exposing ourselves to perspectives that might open us to a different point of view.

  3. Just finished my second board meeting yesterday with a new work I’m starting.

    We wanna help gifted folks with new ideas who wanna do mission and practical service among poor people to get their call off the ground.

    My board members are the head IT guy for one of the big American banks that recently went under in the ongoing financial chaos, the guy who’s heading up the next Urbana missionary convention, a NASA engineer and Cal Tech grad student, and a consultant for the Orange County Business Council who moonlights as a professor of political science at Cal State Long Beach.

    We spent a good bit of our 4 hour meeting yesterday discussing these very issues. Important stuff.

    Do the lost sometimes (often) have better ideas and capabilities than Christians in bringing about practical and positive social change?

    Should a Christian organization trying to bring about practical good for the least–perhaps on the model of Habitat for Humanity–pro-actively work with and intimately involve the lost?

    Or should Christians who want to bring about important social change exclude the lost?

    How do Christians who want to include the lost in their organizations in order to best encourage social change also make a clear witness for Jesus?

    Grace is pretty relevant :^)

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