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Loving God With All of Our Hearts PDF Print E-mail
Written by Conrade Yap   
Friday, 09 January 2015 21:11

 

Another year had gone by, and a new year is come. It is a time for new plans and new hopes. Many cities around the world celebrated with a New Year’s bash, notably the countdown followed by a fireworks display. Though our city of Vancouver did not have any grand fireworks celebration, many of us celebrated in a quieter manner with our loved ones.

Last Sunday was the first Sunday in 2015. John launched the sermon series on Jeremiah with his sermon, “To Uproot and Tear Down, To Build and to Plant.” He gave us the context of chapter 1, sharing with us about the challenges of trying to understand an ancient book. He urged us to ask ourselves what kind of old things or old habits that we ought to consider uprooting or taking down. At the same time, we can think about what are some new initiatives to build and to plant anew. One of the key points mentioned was the play of words in the branch of the almond tree (Jer 1:11b). The word shoqed in Hebrew means “to watch” while the word shaqed refers to the “almond tree.” The words sounded very similar and could very well mean a double emphasis on the need to be watchful or be wakeful whenever one sees the presence of an almond branch. It is a good reminder for us to continue to be watchful this year.

Some churches conduct watch-night services on New Year’s Eve. One such church I am familiar with would begin their service at 11pm, and at around 11:59pm, would rally the congregation to do a countdown, followed by a joyous celebration of hope and anticipation of good things to come for the New Year. Now, what do we hope for? What are we looking forward to? For one, what the Christian anticipates will be quite different from what the world expects. If there is anyone who could be most hopeful of the future, it had to be disciples of the Risen Christ expecting the Kingdom to come. In fact, there are signs of encouragement. For Jesus had said to us in Luke 17:21 that “the Kingdom of God is within you.” This vision of the kingdom was alluded to in Jeremiah 1:10, where God will uproot and tear down the old, and to plant the new. New Testament scholar, Scot McKnight says it well about the dual nature of kingdom, one that is both present as well as future.

The kingdom in the New Testament is not just a future glory but a present rugged reality struggling toward that glorious future. That is, the kingdom is only partly realized; it is only inaugurated in the here and now. So the kingdom today is a rugged mess no less than the church is also a utopia, as I outlined in an earlier chapter. The church’s future, when church morphs into kingdom in its fullness, will be a grand, glorious display of holiness and love and justice and endless fellowship.” (Scot McKnight, Kingdom Conspiracy, Brazos Press, 2014, p96)

In other words, just because the Church is imperfect does not mean the Church is a lesser part of “kingdom.” On the contrary, there is no kingdom outside of the Church. For the Church is the Bride of Christ, and when Christ comes again, God will lead the Church to perfection and glory. Until that glorious day, let’s plant the gospel seed both inside and outside, by loving God with all of our hearts.

Shalom,

Conrade