Thursday, October 9, 2008

Eternity: Slow Train Comin’ -- Day 5

A few days ago I commented about how the evangelical church is once again beginning to understand its place within the broader Church, within the much larger family of God, and within the much, much larger kingdom of God.

God’s kingdom. God’s family. God’s Church.

They’re not the same, but how are they different?

The fact is, God not only can use anyone to advance His purposes, but God often uses them as a means of drawing them into His family and church today. Take the apostle Paul as a classic example. The fact is, the more opposed someone is when God starts using them, the more likely it is that God will draw them to faith in Jesus Christ. It sounds counterintuitive, but we see this over and over in Scripture, in Church history, in modern biography, and in contemporary experience.

Let’s make a distinction, however, between “servant” and “citizen.” Not all “servants” in God’s kingdom are “citizens” yet. Citizens are going to spend eternity with God. Servants may or may not. God’s desire, of course, is that none perish, but that all come to repentance.

Who is God using in your hometown, in national politics, on Wall Street, in the sports world, in the entertainment world? Who comes to mind? Have you ever thought of them as God’s servants? Have you ever prayed for God to use them? Have you ever wanted to see God transform their lives?

We need to pray for new eyes to see people as God sees them. How many of you have heard Bebo Norman’s haunting new song, “Britney”? Here’s the story behind that song in Bebo’s own words:

I was up late, couldn’t sleep, watching some news channel, when yet another story about Britney Spears came on. My first instinct was to scoff and write it off, but then there was this freeze-frame shot of a look on her face of utter and absolute despair and confusion and brokenness—a look that I recognized… I think that night I saw her through the eyes of Jesus for the first time. I imagined what Jesus would say to me in my darkest hour and realized that those are the words we should speak to this world, to this culture, and even to Britney Spears in their darkest hour. “I’m sorry. Hope is here.”

“I’m sorry. Hope is here.” Sometimes, those are the first words we need to say to someone God wants to save. Not, “I have the answers.” Not even, “I know God, He changed my life, and He can save you too.” Just “I’m sorry. Hope is here.”

Many in God’s kingdom are His, some are not and some are on the way:

Are you willing to memorize those words, take them to heart, and speak them to someone this week? “I’m sorry. Hope is here.” Hope because of who God is, because of what God is doing, and because of what God envisions and wants to be true for all eternity.

When Bob Dylan recorded his landmark album Slow Train Comin’ and first told the world that he was serving the Lord, many cheered, many others jeered, and still many others didn’t know what to think.

Based on what we’ve just considered, what do you think?

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