Monday, November 15, 2010

"Heaven on Earth, we need it now, I'm sick of all this hangin' around" (U2)

To hope for a better future in this world - for the poor, the sick, the lonely and depressed, for the slaves, the refugees, the hungry and homeless, for the abused, the paranoid, the downtrodden and despairing, and in fact for the whole wide, wonderful and wounded world - is not something else, something extra, something tacked on to the gospel as an afterthought. And to work for that intermediate hope, the surprising hope that comes forward from God's ultimate future into God's urgent present, is not a distraction from the task of mission and evangelism in the present. It is a central, essential, vital, and life-giving part of it. Mostly, Jesus himself got a hearing from his contemporaries because of what He was doing. They saw him saving people from sickness and death, and they heard Him talking about a salvation, the message for which they had longed, that would go beyond the immediate into the ultimate future. But the two were not unrelated, the present one a mere visual aid of the future, one or a trick to gain peoples attention. The whole point of what Jesus was up to was that he was doing, close up, in the present, what He was promising - long term, in the future. And what He was promising for the future, and doing in that present, was not saving souls for a disembodied eternity but rescuing people from the corruption and decay of the way the world presently is so they could enjoy, already in the present that renewal of creation which is God's ultimate purpose - and so they could thus become colleagues and partners in that large project. (Taken from "Surprised by Hope" by N.T.Wright)

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