Monday, June 4, 2018

"Living in a heavenly mindset..."

Stefana Dan Laing at the Center For Baptist Renewal asks What Can We Learn from the Ancient Church? One of the answers is "Live in a heavenly mindset":
Often we hear the saying that someone is so heavenly minded as to be no earthly good. Actually the spiritual directors of the early church encouraged a heavenly cast of mind, which could produce quite a lot of earthly good. For example, if one dwells on God, His Word and the ideals of the kingdom, one is more likely to live out these ideals in daily life. ....

Living in a heavenly mindset is a choice, and it admits the conclusion that the believer lives in two realms, the earthly and heavenly, simultaneously. That realization of earthly residence with heavenly citizenship (as in Augustine’s magisterial apology) impacts our view of life as we know it. Our view of earthly pleasures, possessions, government, the church and a future we anticipate are all impacted. Earthly pleasures and goods are to be held lightly; they are temporary and not to be loved as 1 John 2:15-17 admonishes us. ....

Indeed, the New Testament gives the injunction not to “love the world” because it is “passing away” (1 Cor. 7, 1 Jn. 2) and is under the sway of “the ruler of this world” (Jn. 12:31, 14:30). In this view, the world is fallen, broken, imperfect and often constitutes the nexus of spiritual warfare when earthly and heavenly priorities clash. This was the Christians’ view as they faced government-sponsored persecution for refusing to worship Caesar, calling Christ Lord instead. .... Christians also held a view of time and power in which Caesar’s reign was limited and temporal, by contrast to the true Sovereign, Christ, who reigned eternally in heaven. ....

Because this world is under the devil’s sway, no earthly institution can provide perfect justice, harmony and peace. In the face of contentious elections and critical Supreme Court rulings, we should pray for justice and righteousness but should not expect it; it is fully certain only in God’s kingdom in the Heavenly City, when every citizen has been transformed by the Holy Spirit from the inside out. This future and eternal state of righteousness constitutes the consummation of the Christian life and human history, and it is our destiny. In the meantime, between creation, re-creation, and final telos, operating within an early Christian metaphysical framework, we get a sense of what disciples of Jesus can realistically expect in this life: houses, lands, brothers, sisters, children, mothers, “with persecutions” (Mk. 10:29-30), and the latter is mentioned in other New Testament contexts as well. However, we can also expect the comforting presence of Jesus, the heavenly Bridegroom with us; the love of God “in Christ” to be inseparable from us; the knowledge of God’s sovereign rule over all, guiding history to its ordained telos; and the ever-present Holy Spirit who teaches, guides and sanctifies us, and convicts the world through our witness (our “martyria”)—whether we live or die. These aspects of a realistic discipleship were fully embraced by ancient believers. [read it all here]