There are many things in life that bring me joy: the companionship of my wife; the timeliness of a good cup of tea; the word of encouragement from a friend; the opportunity to help someone; the growth of a plant; the smell of home-baking; the morning sunshine; the wisdom of parents; the chord of G#m7; the shared history with my brother; the thrill of a football match or the therapy of two Corgi dogs.
There are countless elements making up life that punctuate the daily rhythms of both the mundane and the miserable – and it does us profound good to count our blessings every single day! (see Psalm 32:1).
But, regardless of whether North and South Korea are getting on or not, the world is falling apart and to deny this is to bury our heads in blinkered lifestyles of sand.
I’ll be honest, despite these innumerable beauties of life and the good news of grace and salvation that utterly surround our lives, I carry a distress in my heart and mind that sometimes threatens to cripple me.
Let me explain:
We’ve just read the first three verses of Hebrews 1 at church this weekend. (I’d encourage you to pause in reading this blog while you do that now). They immediately transport me to Colossians 1 and the well-thumbed passage describing the supremacy of Christ. (Colossians 1:15-20).
If you lay these two passages side by side in parallel fashion, like me, you’ll quickly notice their similarity. We don’t know for sure who wrote Hebrews (unlike Colossians) but, whether or not Paul, they are both books written by men who thought, taught and worshipped alike.
The book of Colossians was written as a letter specifically to be read aloud in a house-church gathering to fortify true believers against surrounding false teachers. (Sound familiar?). The book of Hebrews was also written to encourage Christians in a time of trial and, just like its counterpart, does so by focusing on the absolute supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ.
The Distress of the Mess
Why then the distress? Well, frankly, because not all believers who profess the name of Jesus actually believe what the Bible teaches. Neither, obviously, do unbelievers.
Doesn’t this give you distress?
The disparities and double-mindedness of the so-called evangelical ‘Church’ are so pervasive that, on occasions, I can’t see, even with the eyes of Hebrews-11 faith, into a future hope where the Bride is prepared for the coming of Christ.
This is the mess – and to all unbelievers, I am so, so sorry:
God blesses homosexuality and he doesn’t; God blesses male-only headship and he doesn’t; God defines marriage based on a picture of Christ and the bride and he doesn’t; God says, ‘I am like this…” and he doesn’t; God orchestrates sign and wonder by the gift-giving Spirit of power and he doesn’t; God commands the rich indwelling of his Word and he doesn’t; God says that he never changes and…he doesn’t.
But, of the Lord Jesus Christ, in both Hebrews 1:3 and Colossians 1:17, God the Father says that,
…he upholds the universe by the word of his power…
…in him all things hold together.
So, Christ upholds the entire universe by his Word just as he holds all things together. This includes entire nations as well as the small birds singing their little beating hearts out in the tree in your garden as you read.
Why the World Disintegrates
I’ll try and keep this short and simple:
The reason that the world is disintegrating (and that the Church is miscarrying) is that people are rejecting Jesus.
If everything is held together by Him – literally held together by His Word – and people are rejecting what He says and who He is as the cohesive unifying power of every single atom and second of time, doesn’t it simply stand to reason that civilisation is more than a little frayed at the edge?
Where Is This Going?
A question all of us need to ask ourselves is, ‘where is this all going?’. (see David Robertson’s post, below). God will not allow this tragic muddying of the waters to continue forever. Indeed, swathes of the Church may already be apostate and languishing under judgment.
But make no mistake: God is sovereign. It’s not His redemptive purposes that are fraying but rather the infrastructure of humanity of which He is absolutely Heir (Hebrews 1:2).
This broken, shadowy mess of ecclesia will either plunge us into hopelessness or into genuine renewal, reformation and new apostolic ways bypassing the madness of denomination.
His grace to us is immense but when we see the disintegration of culture and society, of whole people groups, families and the gender/sexuality fabrics of biological life, of the impotence of the apostate Church and the absence of sound doctrine, we should look no further than to our rejection of what God says about God:
(Our ignorance of this is why the world is disintegrating – oh, how we need intercessors to stand in the gap).
Pay heed Muslims, Buddhists, Humanists, Atheists, and all other naysayers – about your “good spiritual guide”, your “prophet” – of the Son of God the Father says,
“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy.”[e]10 He also says,
“In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
11 They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
12 You will roll them up like a robe;
like a garment they will be changed.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.”
~ Hebrews 1:8-12