Clergy Corner: God in His infinite wisdom has a plan for all of us

There are four little words that, to a parent in a car, can have a similar effect as hearing fingernails on a chalkboard. Four little words that many of us probably are guilty of saying long ago. “Are we there yet?”

God, in God’s infinite wisdom, has a plan for this wonderful world, and so we wait for it to come about.

I want to suggest a slightly different word than “wait” though: the word “anticipate.” Anticipation is a more than simply waiting. It’s waiting for something that is worth waiting for. Think, for instance, about the difference between two trips you might take. If you’re driving to the beach this summer, even the adults have a little of that “are we there yet?” feeling. You’re looking forward to getting there and having a good time. On the other hand, if you’re driving to the dentist, you’re probably not in a real big hurry to get there. Anticipation is waiting eagerly for something that is worth waiting for.

In Matthew 24: 36-44, the author tells us to be ready, because we don’t know when the day of the final coming of the Son of Man will happen: a coming which speaks both of saving grace as well as judgment. But in Matthew, Jesus’ concern is that we be ready, not be caught napping. So what does that mean? Does it mean we sell everything and head for the hills? Does it mean it’s wrong to go about our everyday lives? The short answer, of course, is no. But beyond that, we need to step back and see something very basic about the Christian faith.

Let me make it as plain as I can. We who follow Jesus are here to be a living, breathing demonstration of the kind of humanity, the kind of community, God wants for all people, and I stress here, ALL people. A part of that is individual. A large part of that has to do with our life together as a community, a church family. We are called to be disciples and to give people a glimpse of what God’s dream for the future will look like. Are we there yet? No, we’re not. Look around you, listen to the rhetoric on the news, and you know we have a long road ahead of us still.

We have a two-part task. The first part is to keep God’s dream, God’s vision, God’s way in front of us. Don’t dismiss it or minimize it. It is the vision of what Jesus called “the kingdom of God,” and it was the basis for Jesus’ ministry. Being clear about that vision and keeping it in front of our eyes is the first task. And the second task is to begin making that vision a reality, in our lives, in community with each other, in the way we treat everyone around us, in the way we see the world. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” God’s kingdom, God’s way, comes wherever God’s will is being done. Wherever we are reflecting the character of this God of shalom, of peace, of reconciliation, we are doing the work of the kingdom. So as we go about our lives, we have much to anticipate. God’s dream has not yet become the reality that it will one day. But as we anticipate that glorious future, let us do so by giving others a glimpse of what it’s all about. Let us live out the words of the hymn “We are Called”:

We are called to be hope for the hopeless so all hatred and blindness will be no more.

We are called to act with justice.

We are called to love tenderly.

We are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.

As we celebrate the hope we have in Jesus Christ, may we be a sign of hope to those around us as we wait and accept that “No, we are not there yet, but we’re still plugging away at it. The anticipation is building.” Let us pray that it may be so.

The Rev. Jerry Oliver is the pastor of the Mayfield and Northampton United Methodist Churches.

By Paul Wager

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