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Building for the future Kingdom May 7, 2008

Posted by Andy in Reflections on Ministry.
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I’ve got my head in Tom Wright’s latest book Surprised by Hope in which he expertly knocks on its head any notion that the message of the Bible is simply about getting to ‘heaven’. He builds an argument that inspires Christians to believe that the hope we have in Christ is firmly world-related rather than something that just belongs to the after-life. Wright comments on 1 Corinthians 15:58 – where it says that our work for the Lord is not in vain – and says:

You are not oiling the wheels of a machine that’s about to fall over a cliff. You are not restoring a great painting that’s shortly going to be thrown into the fire. You are not planting roses in a garden that’s about to be dug up for a building site. You are – strange thought it may seem, almost as hard as to believe as the resurrection itself – accomplishing something which will become, in due course, part of God’s new world. Every act of love, gratitude and kindness; every work of art and music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of his creaiton; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or to walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one’s fellow human beings, and for that matter one’s fellow non-human creatures; and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed which spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honoured in the world – all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation which God will one day make. That is the logic of the mission of God. God’s recreation of his wonderful world, which has begun with the resurrection of Jesus and continues mysteriously as God’s people live in the risen Christ and in the power of the Spirit, means that what we do in Christ and by the Spirit in the present is not wasted. It will last all the way into God’s new world. In fact, it will be enhanced there.