The winds of ultimate change

Today is the second Monday of Lent and, among other things, it is a time of waiting, reflecting, and expectancy. What is it that you are waiting for today?

In popular cartoons, God is often depicted as a stern old man with flowing white beard, sometimes sitting on a cloud, sometimes surrounded by strange little beings with wings and harps.

In Scripture, both God and angels are described using quite different imagery. Moreover, the Scriptures teach that we shall all one day see God – and discover whose imagination and artistry was closer to the truth of what the unimaginable and indescribable is actually like.

Today I want to talk about the winds of ultimate change. There are numerous hints and whispers in the Bible that the world as we know it is not all there is to reality.

As Luke tells us, when Jesus left his first followers and returned to heaven, “suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen him going into heaven” (Acts 1:10-11). We may suppose that Jesus was in some mysterious ways changed by his death, resurrection and ascension; and when he returns, as promised, he will bring ultimate change to our world.

Everyone who turns to God and finds salvation in Jesus has already begun the long journey of transformation that culminates in ultimate change. As we saw last week, we are being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2).

Everyone who hears and believes the good news gains a sense of the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ. “We all, with unveiled faces,” says Paul, “are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor 3:18).

A hint, perhaps, of the ultimate change that awaits. But there is a more tangible, more objective, dimension to ultimate change that lies ahead for those who follow Jesus:

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruption. Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed” (1 Cor 15:50-52).

Elsewhere, Paul writes, “Our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of his glorious body” (Php 3:20-21a).

Big change is coming! It’s not enough to know that, as the hymn declares, “… Christ Jesus lives today! / He walk with me, and talks with me, along life’s narrow way.” Or, as another hymn-writer puts it, “He walks with me, and he talks with me, / And he tells me I am his own.”

Yes, friendship with God is a wonderful privilege. God is with us, but in a very real sense we are not yet with God. As Allan Chapple observes in his book, True Devotion,

God does make his home with us now – but we have to be away from the body before we are at home with him – and it is only at the End that God will be fully and finally present with his people. So there is both closeness and distance in the present form of our relationship with the Lord. As a result, it is as misleading as it is helpful to claim that he walks and talks with us.[1]

Let us pray.

Lord Jesus, for whom incarnation, resurrection and ascension meant radical change, help us to grasp the truth about the ultimate change that is coming. Give us a holy discomfort with the way things are, a pure longing for the future you have in store for those who love you, patience while we wait, and a desire to walk daily with God into tomorrow, come what may. Amen.


Rod Benson is Research Support Officer at Moore Theological College, Sydney. He enjoys preaching, cooking, snorkeling, and reading a good book. This talk was presented as a staff devotion on 1 March 2021.


Reference

[1] Allan Chapple, True Devotion: In Search of Authentic Spirituality (London: Latimer Trust, 2014), 84.

Image source: The Nation