‘To God’s elect, strangers in the world’ (1P1:1), ‘I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened to know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power to us who believe’ (Eph. 1:18).
Saints Peter and Paul remind us ground saints of the hope we share in Jesus, His glory and our inheritance, which need not be dulled or distracted by a shameful election. (I’m still not sure who troubles me more—she who champions mothers and children while insisting that the former be free to dispose of the latter, or he who demonizes aliens while pandering to angry white Ameri-men.) In truth, Jesus’ choice to elect us and make us strangers to the world’s systems may be just the reminder we need to sharpen our focus on what counts—hope for a harassed nation whose people will be saved by no other candidate than Jesus Christ.
During the last presidential Election Day in 2012, I wound up a 40-day fast with the fine folks at Outpost Ministries in the Twin Cities—we prayed ‘Thy will be done’ throughout the day at the Justice Prayer Room, then sponsored by a church on the campus of the University of Minneapolis. During a break, I wandered (hungrily) around the campus and beheld hundreds of gender confused students; there, through the eyes of my heart, I saw a torrent of ‘living water’ rushing from the church and inviting them to partake of the transformational flood.
I heard Jesus whisper: ‘I am their hope—not a law or elected official—this river of blood and water and Spirit. Build up My house, let the waters rise there and overflow into the public square; welcome My estranged children home!’ From that point on, four years ago, I vowed to do just that, build up Jesus’ house so that empowered faithful ones might blaze a path for those lost to the world.
The Church! Might she be faithful in this hour to Jesus’ blazing truth and mercy for the saving of many lives! Of this fire, and the threat of our falling asleep in its light, Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia writes: ‘We do not need to renounce our baptism to be apostates. We simply need to be silent when our faith demands we speak out. Our assimilation into popular culture has bleached out strong religious conviction in the name of liberal tolerance and has dulled our longing for the supernatural…’
Pete, Ken and Andy.
And the power of that supernatural love! My splendid colleague Peter Kockelman and I had the privilege this week to impart some wisdom (and receive much renewal) at Bethel Church in Redding CA. We met future ministry partners like Ken Williams and were simply blown away by the hope and life and love that surged like a flood from the community of 8000 saints, mostly young adult, who gather in order to give Him away with joy-filled generosity.
(That is what blessed me most about the Bethel community: in light of incredible pressures to accommodate the volume of seekers, key staff persons face the burdens with child-like joy. No stressed-face saints these—they smile and shrug heaven-ward and entrust the glorious impossibilities to Jesus. He makes a way.)
Yet they are also realists. At the urging of Pastor Chris Vallaton, the Bethel community is seeking to offer a clear witness of God’s will for men and women, while equipping the saints to accompany persons caught in disorder with grace and truth. The river is rising in Redding and now flows throughout the world to draw estranged sons and daughters back to the Father, and His confirmation of each one as beloved sons and daughters, made in His image.
These Bethel saints will not bow the knee to another image of humanity, a ‘cooler’ version for the sake of appeasing confused hipsters. They will mobilize the saints to become that river poured out to the broken. They will do their part to make our election sure, the Bride who has been washed by the Word, free of spot and wrinkle, radiant. Nowhere else I want to be: joyfully in the river with all the saints, doing our parts to keep the waters pure and rising for a people who will perish without it.