So too with the greatest story ever told.
A little less than 2,000 years ago, Jesus was wrapping up his three-year ministry intensive with his small band of eleven disciples. Forty days before, He had graduated from death to life, becoming the first fruit of the New Creation, the model Man who then breathed on his astonished followers and transformed them into chips off this new Cornerstone. Now He was about to step back into His Father’s dimension and sit down on the throne as the dread Sovereign over heaven and earth.
He leaned into His eleven disciples and a great hush fell.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” He said. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
And so He summed up the raison d’être of His life…and ours.
Now depending on one’s eschatological view—whether a-, post- or historical pre-millennial— we can disagree as to the extent we will be successful in this grand enterprise of discipling nations before the Lord returns. We can even disagree as to how true success is defined.
But there should be absolutely no question as to what that commission is and means: to love others as He has loved us; to strive to bring every thought in obedience to Christ; to seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness; to pray and then work for that Kingdom to come and for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
And die trying (in more ways than one).
Anything less is to cease being a disciple; to quit the game, leave the field and shuffle off into the inglorious stands.
As followers of Christ, the NO’s we present to the world must always be in the context and service of the far greater, transcendent YES’s.
For example, pre-marital sex, adultery, homosexuality and divorce—for sure big no’s—are only condemned because they are cancers on the YES!: the boundless joy, mystery and blessing that is One-Man, One-Woman, One-Flesh marriage.
The Word—inscripturated, enfleshed and echoed in creation and the whispers of the human heart—“outlines the design”. They give us the bullseye, the center of the target at which we are supposed to aim.
Whatever the target subject may be—relationships, money, sexuality, child-rearing, education, law and government, race, philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, on and on—rarely, if ever, will we hit the target dead-center.
That’s because we are fallible creatures living in a fallen world.
And without this—and sadly many in our country seem literally hell-bent on denying and erasing many of these bullseyes—there is only chaos.
And an eventual decent into the Abyss.
As the poet warned:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned…
(An excerpt from The Second Coming by W. B. Yeats, 1919)