I recently read the book “Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Place” by Eugene Peterson. If his name is unfamiliar to you, you might be familiar with one of his other works The Message, which is a paraphrase of the Bible, putting it into contemporary language. In “Christ Plays…” he made a comparison of Holy Saturday (the day in between Good Friday and Easter) to the times that we live in today.
On Holy Saturday, things seemed dark and hopeless. The disciples and Jesus’ followers had just seen their Messiah brutally beaten and murdered and they were reeling. They believed that He was going to liberate Israel from Roman captivity, and become the King of a new kingdom on Earth in their day and time. When that didn’t happened, they didn’t know what to do. In today’s world, we find ourselves in a similar position, not knowing what to do until God’s kingdom is restored one day. I thought Peterson’s comparison was brilliant, and it really put things into perspective for me.
Today, we can’t help but see the bad things that happen in this world, everything from accidents or illness happening to good people around us to travesties of justice that occur around the world. At times, we can allow ourselves to think that hope is lost, and wonder where God is in all of this, as if he’s an absentee landlord. Many Chrstians and non-Chrstians alike even ask how God can sit idly by and allow these kinds of things to happen time and time again.
But where we are today is not God’s doing, but man’s. All the way back in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve chose to defy God, they brought about a curse on themselves, their descendants, and upon the Earth. What has occurred since then is what happens in God’s creation, both men and the world, when it is apart from its creator. Man and the world were both designed to live in a close relationship with God, walking and living among us, and when we chose to push Him away, we have since reaped what we sowed and found out the consequences of our actions. Bad things happening to good people isn’t necessarily a direct result of a sin they personally committed, but it is a direct result of our collective sins as humans.
But the beautiful, wonderful, and amazing thing is remembering that today is just Saturday, it’s not Sunday yet. The story is not finished, and God’s work in us and the world is not complete. Things may seem bleak because with every passing day we are farther away from God than at any other time in human history. After Jesus’ ressurection, he appeared to many of His followers and in those moments He reminded them, just as He had been telling them throughout His ministry, that his death was part of the plan all along. He had to be made a sacrifice as payment for our sins so that we could re-establish our relationship with God, and one day commune with Him just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden. Jesus’ death had been prophesied hundreds of years earlier, but the disciples needed to be reminded that the brutality of what they saw, the darkness that they felt, and the loss they were experiencing was part of the plan.
We do not have the ability to know God’s plans, thoughts or ideas, as they are simply too big for us. Isaiah 55:8 tells us that our thoughts are not God’s thoughts, and that His ways are higher than ours. To be honest, would you really want God or His way of doing things to be as limited as what we humans could come up with? Just look around at the mess we have made around us, and you’ll quickly answer that question with an emphatic “no”. We can’t agree on simple things like what we want to eat for dinner, much less things as big as right vs. wrong, or the best way to run our lives.
But as Psalm 145:17 tells us, the Lord is righteous in all His ways, so we need to take heart that He knows exactly what He is doing. Just before Jesus ascended into Heaven, he told his disciples that it is not for them (and consequently us) to know the time when God’s plans will unfold (Acts 1:7). So instead of worrying or concerning ourselves with what God is NOT doing, let’s busy ourselves with the two greatest commandments that Jesus gave us: love our God and love our neighbors (Mark 12 :30 & 31). What would our world look like if those of us who call ourselves Christians actually lived out what we preached vs. just talking about or debating it? What if we spoke in love vs. tearing down others? What if instead of saying that the world is getting more and more corrupt by the day, we strived to make a difference? What if we did as Andy Stanley has said and “did for one what we wished we could do for many”?
If we did these things, maybe we might finally say to ourselves that until the perfect timing of God’s return, we will follow what he told us to do and show His love on this Endless Saturday. The story is not over….