Tuesday, July 26, 2011

not nostalgic for jesus

If you could travel back through time and could visit one historical person, who would that person be? If you are a Christian, you would be expected to say Jesus. As a believer, what historical figure could be more important?

Personally, I would not want to go back in time to be with Jesus. I also think I have Scripture on my side in not wanting to go back to be with him.

[Okay. I think it would be really cool to go back and witness the Resurrection on that first Easter morning. But that would be merely a form of historical tourism. However, I would not want to stay there. I really don’t wish to go back to be with Jesus.]

Think of those who were with Jesus before the Accession, before he in his glorified physical body went to heaven (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9). Those who were closest to him, those who walked with him, they celebrated. Even after they came down from the adrenaline rush of witnessing Jesus disappearing in the clouds, they never looked back.

Something I find interesting is that there is no record of Jesus’ disciplines pining for the time they spent with Jesus in the flesh. Not even a hint of it in any NT writings. In John’s first epistle he starts out by recounting that he heard, saw, and even touched Jesus in the flesh (1 John 1:1-3) but this is just a statement of fact. A witness to something experienced, not something yearned for. Yet John was the apostle closest to Jesus, “the one whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20). If anyone would have missed Jesus, it would have been John. Neither John nor anyone else seems to have been nostalgic about having been with Jesus.

Why didn’t they miss the good old days with Jesus? Because they had something better after Jesus ascended. At least they did after a ten-day wait for Pentecost (Acts 2:4). They had the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is better than physically being with Jesus? That is an idea that is very strange to most Christians. This is despite many having read of Jesus actually telling his disciples that it was to their benefit that he leave so that the Holy Spirit could come (John 16:7). What most folks now experience does not seem to come close to being better.

This disconnect between the Word of God and our personal experience is something that should be quite disturbing. Was Jesus lying? Maybe he was hyping the coming of the Holy Spirit so that his leaving earth would be more palatable for his friends and disciples? Jesus isn't supposed to lie so maybe the whole thing is all a lie then?

Maybe these promises were for the first century only and have ceased? Some Christians cite 1 Corinthians 13:8 to support this explanation. However, this only makes sense if the verse is taken out of context. There is nothing in Scripture to indicate the promises of God concerning the Holy Spirit have expired and are not valid anymore.

Rather than something being wrong with Jesus, or that his promises had an expiration date, an alternative explanation may be that that we are missing out. If we are not experiencing what the Bible promises then maybe we are missing out on something God has for us that is really big and incredible? Maybe our expectations for God are much less than what He wants for us? Maybe we should start seeking His gifts?

There are numerous verses concerning the Holy Spirit in NT writings which promise joy, comfort, wisdom, knowledge, personal transformation and more. They are too numerous, or rather I am too lazy, to mention or even cite. There are examples in these writings of people realizing these promises. The historical record since is also replete with such examples.

Maybe we should search the Scriptures for those promises and to seek something better?

Maybe it is time to dump the nostalgia? The good-old days with Jesus may have indeed been good, but they are not supposed to be better. I am grateful for what I have, but if there is more, then I want it. Come Holy Spirit. Come.


Be Blessed!
RB