by Harry Banks, September 12, 2015: My mother in-law was hospitalized and my wife left Alaska to be with her family. The situation provided an opportunity for her and her young granddaughter to spend some time together. On their first trip to the hospital cafeteria, her granddaughter sat down at the table and said, “You know, Grandma, you are not quite what I expected.”
This past year or so, as I have been listening and relistening to the words of John 17 I’ve been trying to comprehend at a personal level what Jesus meant… KJV says, “I have manifested thy name…” in verse 6. NIV says, “I have revealed you.”
Did you ever wonder what pictures were in His mind when He uttered those words? Was He thinking of trashing the temple tables? Forgiving the paralytic? Announcing His Beatitudes? What was the essence of His meaning?
Obviously, for the people of His day, He was not quite what they expected.
When I observe the topics which seem to have the most interaction here in AToday, or on other sites, or I read the position papers… I sometimes wonder just whom we are expecting for this second advent.
Are we expecting the prophecy prover? The corrector of social inequalities? The validator of ordination?
Do you ever wonder what the people who say, “Lo, this is our God, we have waited for him” are expecting?
And what is that “Depart from me, I never knew you” stuff all about…? Sounds like somebody is going to be saying, “You are not quite what I expected.”
Lately I’ve struggled with how infrequently we hold our words and actions up against passages like 1 Corinthians 13 and the fruits of the Spirit of Galatians. What if Paul is actually right? All the words, prophecies, and other stuff really don’t count for much. Is that the God I’m waiting for? Based on my impatience with other’s spiritual journeys I’d have to say I’m not sure that’s the kind of God I’m expecting.
Longsuffering, gentle, Hmm… Not so much…
I recently had occasion to visit with some believers who are engaged in a church plant mission with a messianic focus. They casually mentioned that they expected to be deeply, personally engaged with their friends for eight years or more before those friends might have the trust and courage to declare for Christ.
And when that declaration for Christ comes, the new believers will experience total repudiation from family and friends. They have to know their Christian friends love them deeply. They have to see the love of Christ in their lives in a very real and tangible way.
Remember the New Testament… there was a lot of that total life change going on for those people.
Books with titles such as A Gathering of Strangers or Unchristian seem to accurately describe many congregational experiences, but what kind of God do you think those strangers are expecting? Am I one of those strangers?
Last Sabbath my friend died while driving home from collecting some of the fresh Alaskan mountain water that is piped out of the rocks along a scenic drive along Turnagain Arm. He slumped over the steering wheel. His wife was able to control the car and bring it to a stop.
When the Advent arrives for him and us, I wonder if we will be wondering, “But who were we expecting?” or if there will be resonating recognition.
So how much of I Corinthians 13 or Galatians 5 was in that “manifest” of John 17? Hmmm… And that person knocking at the door in Revelation 3… Would I actually recognize Him as someone I would want to hang out with? What does it actually mean to follow Christ’s admonition “Abide in Me?
What is the “Beauty of Holiness,” the “Joy of Salvation” supposed to really look like? Feel like? Behave like?
When we went to San Antonio in July who were we expecting for the Advent? In the day of final questions, will there be recognition? Or will we be asked, “And just whom were you expecting?” It sure would be nice to find ourselves in the midst of the most loving friends we have ever known. Who love us enough we can feel safe in risking everything. Rumor has it that the God of that Advent is just that sort of being.