In the Meantime – A Linear View of History

 

By Rev. Emmanuel N. ILAGAN –

As a child the Bible stories I learned in Sunday school seemed to me as a random mix of Jesus’ miracles, some Israelite history and their brave heroes, comforting poems, urgent warnings and so on. Later I realized all of these were fragments of a unified, coherent story of God’s love — God’s plan of reconciling us to Himself through Christ (2 Cor. 5:19).

The theologian N.T. Wright likens God’s action in the world to a drama with five (5) Acts where all the stories and books of the Bible fall into place:

– Creation
– The Fall
– The Story of Israel
– Jesus Christ
– The Church

C.G. Bartholomew and M.W Coheen in The Drama of Scripture add a sixth Act – the coming of the new creation as the “final Act of the biblical drama.”

Some people hold a repetitive, cyclical view of history with no ultimate human accountability; and they behave accordingly. As Christians we hold a linear world view. We believe that history is moving toward a climactic point that God had envisioned.

During this Advent/Christmas season we recall how Mary and Joseph played a crucial role in God’s plan. Through them God broke into human history to live among us. Their lives became part of the unfolding story of God’s love.

By God’s grace our own lives today could also be part of God’s plan. As followers of Christ we are in what N.T. Wright calls the fifth “Act” — “The Church”– waiting for the Lord’s return. We do have our joys and sorrows, but God has a purpose for our lives. In another context God declares, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11).

In the meantime, as we await the coming of the Lord Jesus as King, how do we live these days so that our lives become worthy of God’s plan? The following lyrics of a hymn by Ira B. Wilson may give us a clue:

“Make me a blessing, make me a blessing,
Out of my life may Jesus shine;
Make me a blessing, O Savior, I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.”
(Tune: Schuler)

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