Monday, April 20, 2009

4-20 Christ's resurection and Meditation on the Future Life

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

4/20- Meditation on the Future Life- and the resurrection

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and staining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

Calvin: “Now our blockishness arises from the fact that our minds, stunned by the empty dazzlement of riches, power, and honors, become so deadened that they can see no father.” “Now it remains for us to know what is the nature of faith; it is to contemplate the things incomprehensible to our senses; it is to forsake the world and to look for the kingdom of God; it is to cling to the pure and simple word proceeding from the mouth of God, and not to regard that which we are able to perceive here.” CR: 50:444-445

Certainly Calvin’s “meditation on the future life” had to do with Christ’s resurrection. For Calvin, the resurrected Christ gives us a glimpse of heaven and what we will be like in the future life. Meditation on the future life, you will remember (blog 2/28-3/3) is the key to vivification (after our mortification= self-denial and cross bearing). The resurrection shows the power of God over the allurements of the world- riches, power, and honor (today in America we would add sex or living by our feelings).
Calvin did stress the value of life on earth, and the desire to make this world a better place. However, he was also aware of the limits of improvement and even conversion here on this earth. The best we can do here is limited by the problems of this life. In heaven, the obstacles to doing God’s will are removed (including our own sinfulness, the sinfulness of others, our lack of perception, and the anomalies of life). C.S. Lewis once said that the people who did the most earthly good were the ones who had the most heavenly thoughts. Thinking heavenly thoughts is a very Calvinistic thing. There are some Christian forms of spirituality that emphasize only the here and now, as if heaven were purely secondary. But if there is a heaven, it makes sense that we do not ignore it. Heaven is where our hopes and dreams are fulfilled (as our dreams are intertwined with God’s will or dream). Much has been written about the American Dream lately. Some are saying that the American dream cannot be fulfilled because of current economic conditions. If that dream is that we will have all that we need in the here and now, then that is correct. The American dream has involved the idea that anyone can be successful in this life. That someone from a log cabin like Abraham Lincoln may become president. Perhaps the election of Obama is another embodiment of that dream. The Christian dream is that anyone- from any culture, from any nation, from any language group, with any educational background, whether they are rich or poor, good looking or ugly, from any place can go to heaven. It is a “whosoever will come” idea. It is a “for God so loved the world that whosoever believeth” idea. The fact that Calvin says we ought to meditate on the future life, is an invitation to all people who will believe. The early African American spirituals and their meditation on heaven (think “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” “I’ve Got a Home”) concretely illustrate the freeing power of the meditation on the future life. This life’s chains do not hold us forever, just as the chains of death could not hold Jesus. Our dream is to continue to put our hope in God in heaven.

Prayer: Father, thank you that this life is not all there is, and Christ’s resurrection reminds us of that. Help us to put our hope in you rather than on the temporary things in this life. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment