I Can See Clearly Now

I Can See Clearly Now

To me, chapter 30 seems to be about competing visions of and for the future. Paul has a vision of one world united in the kingdom of God under Christ. The religious establishment has a vision of the chaos and turmoil that would undoubtably be the “birth pangs” of such a transformation. When we read Acts today, it is very easy to judge those who sought to stop Paul and the rest of the early church, but I think that’s being unfair to them. We may disagree with their METHODS, but, generally, I think their MOTIVATION was to preserve what they thought of as the purity of the people of God.

I think it’s not so much that those who opposed Paul had no vision. Rather, their vision of the future was myopic. They could see in the near term that Paul was advocating a major upheaval of the social order of they day.

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28)

It’s hard to think of a more disruptive statement than this in the well ordered society Paul was speaking to! Is it any wonder that the religious leaders of the day, charged with a sacred trust to preserve the purity of the Jewish people, would see Paul and his message as something to be stopped at any cost?

But those who opposed Paul weren’t the only ones who suffered from near sightedness. We see it also within the church. When Paul is preparing to go to Jerusalem, he receives word of a prophetic vision, showing that Paul would be bound if he continued. So the fellow believers urged Paul to change his plans. But Paul would have none of it. He had a different vision. It’s important to note that Paul did not deny the validity of Agabus’ vision. Quite the contrary — he accepted is as valid. It’s just that he saw beyond that limited vision, to the greater plan that lay ahead.

So, what does all of this mean for us? Are we open to seeing where God may be doing a new thing in the world, even if it disrupts and destroys things we’ve held dear, even sacred? And how do we know when that “new thing” really IS of God?

The End

The End

I confess, I’m the one who reads the last half of the last chapter of a book first. Well, not first, exactly, but about 20% of the way through, after I get to know and love the characters, I have to be sure the ending is something like “happily ever after.” I also like to know the ending of a movie … I know, I know, it drives my husband and daughter crazy when I continually ask for spoilers about the Game of Thrones (they’ve read the books). But, to be fair, killing off beloved characters in the first season is a bit difficult. I want assurance that it all comes out ok in the end.

This chapter is about the end, the last page of the story. And, yes, it’s ultimately a happy ending. Unlike the fear filled stories we read in stories like the Left Behind series and other end times novels or movies … The Christ Story is one of redemption, resurrection, and renewal. It is a vision … and like most visions (and some dreams), it is both vivid and surreal. There is a non-realistic, yet somewhat symbolic (or just plain weird) truth in the vision.

I’m struck by the repeated use of “in the beginning, is now, and always will be” phrasing, the referral to Christ as the beginning AND the end, the alpha and the omega. There is a nonlinear aspect of dreams and visions that I find fascinating … In this case, it is both a promise of what is to come and an assurance that it’s already done. Sure, there’s a hope for the world to come, but there’s also a recognition that the new kingdom is already here. Jesus is already at the door … Knocking. We only need to open the door.

I’m not one who is especially motivated by promises of heaven, but I am passionate about the new creation that was, is now, and ever shall be. The vision of a reality filled with love and goodness and justice and joy … No tears, no sorrow as those things are over, done … Those chapters are closed, and the sequel? It’s okay, more than okay, praise God.

I used to have a magnet on my refrigerator that said, “In the end everything will be okay. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” But it’s not something we passively wait for … No, it’s and ending we get to participate in. Jesus is at the door knocking … Inviting us to be a part of the story.

So, what’s the next chapter in your life?