activism, Christianity, church planters, end game, end times, faith, heaven, hope, jake kaufman, Jesus, Jesus Christ, kingdom of heaven, kingdom of Jesus, making all things new, ministry volunteers, mission, spirituality, the end game of Christianity, theology
This is my friend Brad.
And those are fantastic questions that he just asked. (Read his thoughts here.) Questions that I think must be periodically asked by lots of different people.
Church planters and dudes who have been behind the microphone for thirty years. Excited ministry volunteers. The elderly people who save seats. The young and trendy crowd. Perfect attenders. The Easter only crew. Evangelists. Skeptics. Reformists. Emergents. And all the types of people in between.
The answers to those questions could and do fill books. The church in general suffers because it fails to answer those questions well, from the pulpit to the pews.
Our thoughts on the subject tend to be a bit fragmented. We stumble a bit through our words as we try to feel out an answer. Is the end-game heaven? Is it forgiveness and grace? Is it the wrath of God scourging the earth? Is the end-game simply the end?
I would venture to say that, when asked the question, most of us would say that the end-game of our faith is something like, “When I die, I go to heaven.” That’s it. It feels comfortable and familiar to most of us. The end scenario is that God takes us somewhere else; or, more accurately, that God allows us in somewhere else.
For most of us, the end game is all about else. Something else. Somewhere else. Sometime else.
But the more intentionally I follow Jesus and study His way, the more I’m finding that answer to be a bit lacking and a bit dangerous.
It sounds weird to call heaven dangerous, doesn’t it? It’s subtle, but the danger lurks. When the end game is heaven, the strategy becomes self-preservation. We must hide and protect ourselves so that we can pass the ultimate litmus test on the other side. We tend to remove ourselves from our cultures, hide within our neighborhoods, and find our security in the number of church services we attend.
Our evangelism, if at all present, is steeped in fear, conservatism, and warnings. Our sermons become informational presentations lacking passion, art, humility, and love. Our worship becomes tired, dull, and scheduled. In short, we find ourselves lacking life and vibrancy.
Didn’t Jesus say that He would give us new life and full life? The heaven-driven faith seems to lack the life and faith Jesus preached.
The good news is, there’s a better end-game that somewhere else. I believe that the end game of Christianity is redemption; the making new of every old, broken, tired, useless, dead thing.
There is more at play here than an eternal residence. Redemption doesn’t adhere to a time-frame. It is both now and then. It is the historical, current, and eternal work of God. Heaven becomes a part of redemption, as do our worship and preaching and social activism and neighborly conduct.
In the making new of things, we find hope. Our thinking is guided by the belief that God is intervening to reclaim and remake the world He originally intended. There is art found in our struggles and strength found in our weakness. There is joy hidden in our pain and stories hidden in our pasts. And eventually, heaven wins out.
God makes all things new and beautiful. That’s what I hope in with all of my heart and being.
And in the making new of things, we aren’t focused on abstinence. We are aware of re-creation. And that schematic drastically shifts the priorities of the church now. But that’s a different post. This one is already too long.
So, tell me, what do you believe is the end-game of Christianity?