Sunday, July 18, 2010

Embodying the Character of the Coming King

This is a snippet from a recent blog post by Ed Welch. He is talking about how the hope of being with Jesus in heaven should cause us to love now and to diligent in pursuing Christlikeness.
A little while ago my wife left for a week—nothing personal, she was visiting her parents on their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Within two hours of me dropping her off at the airport, our typically tidy house looked like something from Animal House or at least a combo of a men’s dorm and a smelly locker room. I had reverted back to my feral state. My wife, on the other hand, enjoys visual order and cleanliness when they are possible. She is flexible. She can go to Africa and stay in less sanitary conditions, but her natural state is one of ordered beauty and cleanliness.

During the first few days that she was gone, I was a bit sad and occupied myself with what I though were useful projects. With two days left, hope kicked in. I was looking forward to picking her up, thinking about our reunion, imagining how she would be pleased with my projects, and just seeing her again.

With twenty-four hours left before I had to pick her up, hope took on a different form. Whereas the previous form of hope was limited to random imaginations, this kind of hope felt urgent and was decidedly active. First, I made the outside of the house as nice as possible. Nothing too new there in that I usually do that, but I definitely added some flourishes I thought would catch her eye. Then on to the inside. Cleaning is not my passion, but, with this new version of hope, I suddenly became borderline compulsive and was loving it. Dish washer empty, everything vacuumed, dust bunnies vanquished, candles lit in order to overpower the locker room smell, and cut flowers. I was becoming civilized again. I was becoming…. my wife.

This is real hope.
You know the person well.

You can’t wait to see the person.

You create an environment suitable for the person so that, when he or she comes, everything will be just right. You work to bring the agenda, character and interests of the other person into the present.

You begin to take on some of the characteristics of that person.
So, real hope means that as you wait expectantly for Jesus, you find yourself wanting to bring heaven to earth. You are not content to simply wait, patiently imagining what is to come. Real hope wants to embody, right now, the character of the coming King. That character, of course, is love. Real hope in Christ compels us to love today. To paraphrase Paul, the only thing that matters is hope expressing itself in love.

What a lovely way to be sanctified: look forward to knowing the love of Jesus in person, dream about what it will be like to love him with a pure, sinless heart, and then head back to today and see if you are inspired to love.

The apostle John reiterates this approach.
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)
We usually imagine no more tears when Christ returns, and that is, indeed, a good thing to imagine, but Scripture doesn’t suggest that such musings will change us. Next time you are meeting with some of God’s people, dream about the lover who is to come, imagine loving him perfectly, and watch love break out into the present.

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