Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. – Psalm 85:8-11
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Showdown at God's Gulch
We talked about the kingdom being in our midst yesterday, and this brought to mind the divergence that is part of our existence since the Fall. Someday this rift will be healed and that which is true will be reunited with that which is mere fact. Life on earth exists in the sun, and the sun is the center around which the planets revolve, but, as our Unknown Friend says, the center is really Earth, sanctified by the Blood of the Lamb. The New Jerusalem will be not only the center but the source of all light and life when we are fully restored. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. (Revelation 21:23)
Now we see divergence and conflict, but as we move toward the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, we see the gap narrow. I am reminded, too, of Ezekiel’s vision of the river which flowed from the threshold of the temple, a small stream at first with its breadth and depth multiplied the farther it flowed. We may feel far from the truth when we are down by the Dead Sea, but the closer we get to where God dwells, the smaller the differences. We may be divided from our brothers and sisters by what seems to be an impassable barrier. Yet as both they and we draw closer to God’s throne, to the Source of all grace and mercy, we will find that our differences are really rather small. Doctrines help us to live down in Death Valley. They keep us headed the right direction, following the stream back to where it begins.
An old boy who lived back in the country gave me directions to his house. It was pretty straightforward, turn right at this road, left at that one then he said, “You’ll be going east on such-and-such road, and you’ll come a big gray rock. Turn around there and come back. I’m the first house on the right.” I drove right to it. Sometimes the best way to get somewhere is to go beyond and then correct.
Our doctrines diverge because we are trying to make sense of a world that is separated, a little or a lot from reality at various points. To translate between Celsius and Fahrenheit, you need to know that they converge where water freezes and where it boils. You don’t have to know the five-ninths formula if you know the points of convergence. Reality and, for want of a better word, maya do have a point of convergence in the Cross. Death is a fact, but it was overwhelmed by Truth. Doctrine is a useful means of dealing with the facts of our existence and exposing, occasionally, the points where facts and truth coincide.
Truth touches us in the Incarnation, in the Cross, in the Resurrection. We might say we diverge again at the Ascension but only briefly for God comes back to us at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit invades not at a single point in the One New Man but in a whole new race of men who live according to the truth we are given, who do not deny but understand the limits of material facts.
Someday this deviation will be fully resolved. Someday all of creation which now groans over the gap, the riven wound that is the source of our agony will become one again with the ideal and the perfect: Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2). Not what we think He is. Not what our doctrines say about Him, as wonderful as those insights are, but as He IS.
The facts have blinded us to the truth, but He will return to make that second point of contact. Then we will be able to find the formula and all of history from eternity past to eternity future will fit. Every fact, maimed and warped though it be, will be translated into the beautiful, transcendent truth that lay just over on the other side.