You Are Holy, Not Just Heaven Bound

One day, I’m gonna die.

When I die, because I have placed my faith in Jesus, I will spend the rest of eternity in communion with Him and all the saints in a place called heaven. It will be a place where there are no more tears, pain, sin, or death. It will be a place where all will have been made right. It will be a place where we have perfect communion with God. I believe it will be here on earth, that ‘heaven’ will be God restoring creation to the perfection of the pre-fall period, not blowing it all up and starting again (ultimately though, who knows).

All that to say, heaven sounds pretty great.

Unfortunately, many of us (yours truly too) live as if the blood of Jesus ONLY seals our eternal locale.

The Bible however teaches us that the blood of Jesus makes us holy.

If we evaluate our memories, our experiences, our childhoods, many of us would conclude that we were talked to way more often about where we are going (heaven or hell) than what we have become.

Now, heaven is obviously a great thing for us to look forward to. I definitely look forward to the perfection that is promised in Scripture. I look forward to seeing Christ face to face, seeing those I love who are also in perfect communion with God (they aren’t waiting for me, mind you, they’re in a perfect utopia, remember?).

But, the Christian life is not just about the endgame (oh, wow, just typing that makes me excited for the Avengers movie that is about to come out. Just thirteen more days)!

The Christian life is about who we are, not just where we’re going.

The Christian life is about holiness, not just heaven.

If following Jesus was only about going to heaven when we die, then we wouldn’t need to care about living lives of holiness today.

Oops, I just described how I too often live.

I just described how many of us who claim Jesus live.

If following Jesus is just about dying and going to heaven, then honoring Him with our actions, thoughts, words, and habits in the here and now isn’t that important.

In some churches, we have been taught more than this. We have in fact been taught about holiness, and how being set apart should show itself in every area I described above. But even in those settings and circumstances, we can hear it the wrong way. 

Since I was sixteen years old, my dad has encouraged me with the following mantra: “Be God’s Man.” He has texted it to me, told me face to face, e-mailed it, and modeled it.

Here’s how I have misheard it at times.

In moments where the gospel is far from my view, I start to make it a standard to live up to, instead of my identity to walk in.

In those moments I strive with all my vigor and power to become the man of God that Jesus is calling me to be through the encouragement of men like my father. When I fail to live up to my self-imposed standard, I feel woefully inadequate.

But, man alive, listen up!

Because of my faith in Jesus, I AM God’s man! I am a child of God! It’s not something I have to earn or live up to, it’s something I already AM! That’s where the power for holy living is found! The grace of God! My dad’s encouragement is for me to walk out who I AM, not earn the title!

My point is, many of us hear about calls to holiness in church. If you attend the church I work at, you’ve likely heard it from me. We can hear these calls to holy living and misunderstand. We can hear these calls to holy living and spend our energy and effort trying to earn the title of holiness. Yet, Scripture makes it clear that we already are holy in the sight of God! We are already saints! Already set apart! Already righteous!

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:21

The title of holy is not something you have to earn, it’s who you ARE.

Let’s quickly run through just two implications of this.

If I’ve been made holy in the sight of God, it is my Savior who should be praised, not my sin. 

Let me be clear, repentance and confession are powerful. Acknowledging my sins to my wife, friends, and family in Christ is important. There is freedom found in doing this. But if my sin becomes the point of emphasis in an effort to be “authentic” and “transparent”, I am glorifying the very thing that put Jesus on that cross.

My youth group knows that I sin. I tell them.

My family and friends know. They see it.

Those I disciple know that I sin.

But my youth group, family, friends, and those I disciple all know as well that I have a Savior in Christ Jesus who set me free from anything they see and anything I confess. I glorify my Savior, not my sin. Let us not be so concerned about not being judgmental to others that we start to parade our sin and not our Savior.

If I’ve been made holy in the sight of God, so are all others who follow Him

Our churches are full of men and women who are prone to act like immature toddlers (same as I). Gossip, slander, backbiting, attention seeking, anger, rudeness, selfishness. There is this in abundance. But, if we are all holy, shouldn’t we thus see the best in those around us? Where would gossip and slander go if we acknowledged that Becky and Brandon were holy? Where would the selfishness and attention-seeking go if we realized we were all equal in the sight of God?

I believe that these classic church sins would disappear if we saw each other as fellow recipients of the holiness of Christ.

You, if you’ve put your faith in Jesus, are holy.

Stop trying to earn it. 

Stop waiting to live with and for Christ once you die.

Accept who you are.

Let it change everything about you.

Nothing so floods our hearts with the experience of God’s grace as making sure it overflows from our hearts. – Bryan Chapell 

In His Name,
Nathan Roach

 

 

 

An Eternal Hope

I have a story for you.

Once upon a time, back in my childhood days, my siblings and I were in the garage crushing some soda cans with a cool can crushing contraption, putting the crushed cans into plastic bags to be recycled.

Then my parents came in and told us that as soon as we finish, we got to go to Chuck E. Cheese! I remember the drudgery of that task was transformed into joyful anticipation. There was a spring in my step knowing that we were going to Chuck E. Cheese when we got done. Because I was so excited for what was to come, that chores did not feel like a chore at all. It’s like nothing could bring me down.

Have you ever had an experience like that? A moment when your present reality is seen in a different light due to something good that you are looking forward to? I am sure everyone has to some extent. Whether it’s just anticipation for seeing a movie over the weekend, or getting through a difficult day with ease knowing that you are going on vacation the next day.

Y’all, guess what!?

If we have trusted in Jesus, we have something indescribable to look forward to. Something that is the pinnacle of all existence. Eternity with the God who dearly loves us. Look at what Paul says in 1 Corinthians

“But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him’ – 1 Corinthians 2:9 

I know the example I used was simplistic, but the attitude I had when I was excited to go to Chuck E. Cheese is the same attitude that we can have going through the good, bad, and ugly in life. I am not saying that every day we will be bursting with happy feelings, that’s unrealistic because the truth is, life is hard.

But we can have joy and hope knowing what God has done for us, and what He will continue to do. Even Jesus, for the joy set before him, endured the cross and its shame, and is now at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2). We can faithfully persevere knowing that soon we will be with Christ where He is.

Being with Him is far greater than anything we have gone through in this life. More good news: we don’t have to wait until heaven to spend time with the Lord. He is here with us now through the Holy Spirit and He desires for us to know Him! When life is overwhelming, and we are in the depths of despair, in the mundane moments, in the moments of discouragement and heartbreak, we can fully trust that the Lord is present and working. Not only that, but we can lean into His promises laid out for us in Scripture.

Speaking of Scripture, most of us know the story of Paul in the Bible. If you don’t, just know that Paul suffered a lot for his faith in Christ. Yet he says in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Present sufferings not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Wow, that’s powerful.

Here is another passage to meditate on, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 16-18 emphasis added).

If we truly had an eternal mindset, I believe most of the stuff that bothers us in life wouldn’t affect us as much. Having an eternal mindset does not mean that we should neglect our life, pining away for eternity. No, then we would be missing the point. God is still at work, we have a purpose, we are His hands and feet here on earth while we pass through this life. When we comprehend the fact that life is short and nothing in this life will fully satisfy us apart from Christ, it frees us. It frees us from pursuing empty pleasures and seeking a life of self-indulgent behavior. We are free to serve, to give, to love holding nothing back, because we have nothing to lose! We can enjoy life, looking to bring glory to God and invite others to share in His goodness and grace.

Do things that have eternal impact. Share the Gospel. Live in freedom. I know it’s a lot easier said than done, but the hope we have in Christ should motivate us towards sharing the good news and spending our lives in service of others. We can crush soda cans with joy, looking forward to Chuck E. Cheese.

 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:1-3.

Brothers and sisters, one day we will be welcomed home and experience true life.

Until then…hold onto truth, share freely, love deeply.

– Shannon Roach

 

Embracing Our Place

Last night I went to a graduation ceremony at my church for two great young men who had completed a gospel-centered drug rehabilitation program.

Those who filled the pews in our sanctuary came from all various backgrounds. There were those who have grown up in church, in Christian families, like myself. There were those who had fought addiction for decades and were continuing to be sanctified by the power of the Holy Spirit.

There were those who have their Baptist Hymnal memorized, complete with the third and fourth verses of many songs. There were those who prefer the ear-shattering drums and bass of concert-style music like we had last night.

All the while, I reflected on how this was the future of the church in America.

(I’m not talking about the music. Ear-shattering electric guitar is not more pleasing to God than hymns, or vice versa. Worship is about the condition of one’s heart, not one’s preference in music style.)

A unique, diverse group of men and women who were all acknowledging their need for the saving work of Christ.

You see, it’s those who acknowledge their need for Jesus who experience Jesus.

Those who act like they have it all together (none of us do) miss out on the joy and hope of Jesus.

The Lord has been revealing this to me over and over.

The first way God revealed this to me was on Monday night. Every week or so, my wife and I do a short Bible study in the Gospel of Luke. We were reading in Luke 6, and the following passage was impactful and intriguing.

Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets. 

But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets. – Luke 6:20-26

Wow.

Talk about how the kingdom of God is an upside down kingdom.

Who is blessed?

The poor, those who are hungry, those who weep, those who are hated.

Now who is it that should be warned?

The rich, the well fed, the happy, the well spoken of and well liked.

When I think back to last night’s extravaganza, this passage just bursts into reality. A sanctuary full of men and women who acknowledged ‘I’m not strong enough. I’m not good enough. I need help. I need a Savior.” Those who acknowledge their needs will be blessed by the presence of their Savior.

Fast-forward from Monday night with my wife to yesterday afternoon. I was working through a Bible study on the book of Galatians, and I came across this quote.

Their belief that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah was hard to reconcile with the traditional view of an exalted Messiah, especially because Jesus had been nailed to a cross, like a common criminal. 

This quote is in reference to first-century Jews who had a hard time accepting that Jesus was the Messiah. This was because they believed their Messiah would restore the people of God to prominence, usurping the authority of Rome. This isn’t what happened. Instead, Rome crucified this Messiah. It didn’t make sense to them.

That’s because Jesus turns everything upside down. Instead of leading a rebellion to overthrow Rome and be served, He came to serve and give His life for His people.

You know what’s interesting to me?

You and I like to fight for that second list.

Don’t we?

We want to be full. We want to have self-worth that is boosting through the roof, so the gospel becomes about us rather than God. We want cushy, comfortable church experiences where we are never convicted or challenged. We want to be liked by everyone (well, some of us desire this). Our biggest hopes are that legislations and laws will be enacted that support our views. We want the church to be central. God and country. Cultural Christianity. All the while we are being warned by Jesus not to strive for these things.

Brothers and sisters, why are you clawing so hard to get back to the center of society?

Brothers and sisters, why are you exerting all of your energy to be better than Jesus? He suffered. We will suffer.

Instead, embrace what makes us blessed in the eyes of Christ.

Embrace your sinfulness. Embrace your need for a Savior. Embrace the aches and pains in your heart. Embrace God for who He is. Embrace the joy and hope that the saving work of Jesus brings. Embrace the margins of society. Most definitely speak up against sin in our country. Get off of Facebook pleading for people to see your point of view and instead be the hands and feet of Christ in your community. Stop trying to be more well-liked than your Savior.

I pray for the church to get pushed to the margins more and more. It’s not an easy prayer to pray, but it’s a powerful one.

This place is not your home.

God’s kingdom flips everything on its head.

Our walk as followers of Jesus comes with persecution.

But one day, a day I look forward to, I will be in the presence of God. He will have renewed all things. Once again I will be worshipping the King of Kings with hymnal-thumpers and Christian rappers alike (and I can promise you the worship won’t be like either), all acknowledging that we needed saving, and a Savior came for us.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

Given Up

When you really dig deep into Scripture, you can’t avoid the hard stuff.

There has been a phrase in the Bible, in one singular verse, that has caused me a whole lot of problems. It’s the phrase that I circled when I read it last month, and put question marks all above it.

It’s in the following verse.

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. – Romans 1:24

God gave them over.

This phrase had been giving me fits. How does a good and loving God give mankind over to the most vile desires and passions that they have? It’s easy for me to do what I did, circle and question it, but never come back to it. Thankfully, I came back to this verse.

I want to share a blog that honestly might make some of you stop following my writing (although I hope this isn’t the case, cause I love y’all). I want to share with you this afternoon an unpopular but no less integral and important aspect of doctrine.

God’s mercy isn’t infinite.

I recently read this in a commentary on Romans and wrote in the margins that I’ve never heard this taught and my gut reaction is to write it off as hearsay and maybe even heresy.

Then I thought about it for a little while. And I must admit, it’s true.

God is infinite, and thus his character can be described as such. But to say His mercy is infinite is to say that there is ultimately no punishment for sin. Infinite mercy is thus an extremely popular belief in our present day in age, even in many churches. The doctrine of hell, of separation from God, is glossed over and removed, replaced instead with the doctrine of his grace and mercy which never cease.

This is why Biblical literacy, or the preaching of the whole of Scripture, is such a passion of mine. It is only when we take certain passages and make them the centrality of our entire beliefs about God that we fall into gross misunderstandings of His character and the reality of the world we live in.

In this passage in Romans 1, we are clearly told and taught by God through Paul that God’s wrath is poured out on all mankind apart from Christ, since all mankind has at some point suppressed the truth of God and have chosen instead to follow their own wisdom (aka foolishness, Romans 1:22) instead (You Deserve Wrath, Not Love) . Romans 1:23 goes on to say that all of mankind has chosen to exchange the glory of God for their own images.

With all of this in the background of our reading of this verse and this difficult phrase, we begin to see what God is doing.

What God does here in that phrase “God gave them over” is the term ‘judicial abandonment’. God is choosing to give mankind up and over to its own desires, its own sin, its own ‘wisdom’.

This judicial abandonment by God ultimately leads to horrific darkness. It is to be totally and completely devoid of God. It becomes intriguing to me the more I think about it to realize that what our culture is begging for, what sinful mankind is begging for, is exactly what God grants in this passage and ultimately what they will receive when they face Him after they die.

Mankind apart from Christ wants life apart from God. Mankind wants to call the shots. God’s wisdom is too overbearing and too narrow, so mankind fights back and exchanges Scriptural truth for personal conviction and opinion. God’s call to suffer and die to one’s self is too insane a calling, so mankind says that to follow one’s heart and live for one’s own desires is the way to go. Jesus saying He is the way, the truth, and the life is too narrow-minded and bigoted, so mankind opens it up to all systems of belief.

What breaks my heart each day is to see so many who have grown up in the knowledge of Scripture doing what verse twenty-two proclaims. They cling to new wisdom, because God is old-fashioned, and thus become foolish in His eyes.

Judicial abandonment by God is horrifically dark. Judicial abandonment by God is Him giving us what we desire in our hearts apart from Christ.

I’m a sinner apart from Christ. I’m prone even as a follower of Jesus to want sinful things. Just look at this list later in this chapter: homosexuality, unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, hate, arrogance, boasting, disobedience, being unloving, being unmerciful, and celebrating all of the above sins. We are all prone apart from Christ to desire and strive towards these sins. So for God to ‘give me over’ is to give me what I want.

The Bible actually closes this way.

Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy. – Revelation 22:11

So no, God is not infinite in mercy.

One day, God will give us what we want. Whether it be our sin, or the righteousness of His Son. One day, after we die, God will either give us eternity with Him because of faith in His Son, or we will go through eternity separated from Him in a real place called hell.

This is an immensely difficult truth. But it must be read in conjunction with the other truths of Scripture. Here’s an encouraging one:

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9

God desires for all to come to repentance. He desires for all to receive the righteousness of Jesus. But His mercy is not infinite. If we reject Him here, He will reject us for eternity.

Thank God that He sent His Son to live the perfect life I could not and to die the death I deserve. Thank God that Jesus rose from the grave and set me free from sin.

Thank God for those who told me the gospel.

Notice how this passage says that all of mankind has been judicially abandoned by God apart from the gospel. Apart from Christ, that is our lot, our end game. This is the message we must share.

Let’s get on the ball and share with those who need to hear.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

Me, Myself, and I

“If we can just get through May.”

I’ve heard this refrain from many friends and peers recently, and I’ve even thought it and said it myself. May is a busy season. A time of endless graduation related responsibilities and end of the year awards banquets. It is full of solidifying family vacations for the summer. Many who were faithfully following resolutions for 2018 have seen themselves depart from their grandiose plans as they move from Hello Fresh planned meals to driving through Braums or Taco Casa. For the college student, finals weigh heavily on the mind. The pace of the end of the school year is relentless and hard to keep up with.

Friendships and relationships that were strong and tight but three months ago are now more distant as a result of the busyness of life, whether that is co-workers, friends, or family.

While there are definitely seasons of life that are busier than others and thus will naturally effect our relationships, I don’t believe that as followers of Christ we are to nonchalantly go along with this flow and not strive for community all the same.

While reading this evening, I came across Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, once can help the other up. But pity the one who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

This is a beautiful reminder of the necessity of community. As followers of Christ, we cannot do this alone. We need people to help us up (confession and repentance), keep us warm (encouragement and support), and prevent us from being broken (spiritual warfare). If we are not encouraging, praying for, and confessing to a select group of men or women in our church community, then we are missing out on so much of what it means to follow Christ. We were designed for community. Adam was in a perfect state and yet it was not good for him to be alone. In the midst of Genesis 3′ horrible turn of events, we see that God was in the practice of walking with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. Eden was communal.

Yet way too often that cord of three strands is just me, myself, and I.

As the end of the school year has come, I have felt this need for community, for brotherhood, but have experienced the lack of it. This is just as much my fault as anybody’s as I have not taken all the active steps necessary to cultivate relationships that bring grace to those involved and glory to God.

I am neither a husband or a father (or wife or mother). There are daily responsibilities that are not on my shoulders that many of you reading this carry. I know there is an innocence and naivety there. That being said, I believe that God’s desire is to see His church genuinely and truly care for one another with love. Even when it’s inconvenient, even when it’s tough.

I am aware as well that we don’t live in an era where the Acts 2:46 version of church is possible (meeting every evening). That being said, I also don’t believe we live in an era where this idea of actually being the church to each other can’t be fought for.

Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong century because I loathe the family isolation that our culture is all about. You do you and I’ll do me. THAT’S NOT THE CHRISTIAN WAY. If I take the Lord’s Supper with you, that’s me saying that my family’s habits, struggles, and joys are your business. You have the right, even the calling, to call me out when I’m leading my family in sin, just as you should be rejoicing when we rejoice and mourning when we mourn. The Bible paints a picture of community that I rarely see in this day and age.

Forgive me for ranting, I’m passionate about that topic. It is my desire to lead my family (40 days till I’m married. That’s terrifying and exciting.) in a way that puts Christian community over the status quo of what you’re supposed to do in the US of A. Again, there are things that are required. I’m not saying ditch all the end of the year events. I am saying that God made you for community and when you’re throwing that aside for unceasing pragmatic programming, I think you’re missing out on so much.

Heaven will be idyllic. There will be no more nights of fast-food, no more relentless responsibilities. Too often we think once we’re there than we’ll embrace community. Yet in the Lord’s Prayer it says ‘on earth as it is in heaven’. We are to be a people formed by God to bring heaven down to earth. We are to be a people formed by God in such a way that our weekly habits and rhythms stand out. I’ve caught myself looking no different than the world when it comes to my isolation and the way that I spend my weeks. Being a Christian is about being different.

I say every word out of love and every word to myself more than anyone.

As a follower of Christ, slow down.

Speak with a friend. Confess, encourage, pray together.

Go for a walk.

I don’t want to wait ’till the end of May to walk in community, cause then the finish line will just keep getting extended (let us not forget as well that rest was woven into the fabric of creation, and when we don’t allow ourselves rest we are breaking a command of God).

Be different. Be in community.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

 

No Country

As followers of Christ, we are just passing through. As followers of Christ, we are sojourners and exiles on earth. We are in a sense men and women of the future, purchased by the blood of Christ for a present kingdom which will come to full fruition in the future.

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. – 1 Peter 2:11

I never felt out of place growing up. Sometimes I felt a little different due to my belief in Jesus, but I never felt like I was a sojourner or exile here on earth. This still felt like my country, my place, my home.

This wall of confidence in this world being my place, my comfort zone, and my home slowly began to show signs of weakness and unsoundness my latter years at OBU. This was because my world expanded with trips to Salt Lake City and Portland. All of a sudden the United States didn’t feel quite as homey for me. The hostility to Christianity here in the states is still not even in the same league as other parts of the world, but it was definitely growing and my little world was getting rocked as I got to see it and experience it via these NAMB trips.

This wall of confidence in this world being my place, my comfort zone, and my home came crashing down around me in Phoenix. In a city that was 93% full of people who don’t submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, I felt the spiritual darkness, the spiritual warfare, like never before. It slowly began picking away at my defenses, my incorrect beliefs of this being my place. Over the course of many months this kept happening, until one day I lay defenseless in my bed listening to a song come under my door from the other room.

My roommate was listening to John Mark McMillan’s song No Country. In the song, McMillan will describe his feelings of being an exile and sojourner on earth. This lead to the lyrics that were reverberating throughout our apartment, “I’ve got no place to call my country, no place to call my country, no place to call my country anymore.”

My heart and soul put up all their defenses. I hated what I was hearing. I didn’t want to believe the words of the song, I didn’t want to believe that truth of Scripture. Sure, it’s not popular to be a Christian in the USA, but this, this was my place. This was my home. This was where I felt comfortable and at peace.

I fought this sojourner identity with all of my strength. I made sure I kept myself distracted, I made sure that I didn’t pay too much attention on Twitter at how ungodliness and wickedness and injustice fill our earth. I made sure I went and saw Dunkirk and ignored the gnawing realities that surrounded my heart. When Jamie arrived for the summer, I ignored them some more. This was my home. This was my place to start a family with Jamie and to live happily ever after. The culmination of all my joys and deeds would be me making a home here on earth.

In the moments of being alone in the car or at my apartment, the nature of my place here on earth came cascading in with every minute of silence. So I’d turn on the TV and fight. On and on this dance went, and then I got my ticket out. I got back to Texas.

I had somehow convinced myself that being back in Texas would quell the attack, and that I would again feel at home here on earth. Four months of seeing family, friends, Jamie, working in a place I’m familiar with, and having my own home on a quiet little street in Vernon, Texas.

Then it came again. In the quiet. And when you live alone, there are plenty of those quiet moments.

It came again. Feelings of not quite being home. Feelings of being out of place.

Now I’m starting to get it. This isn’t home. This isn’t my country. This world is not my place. The culmination of all my joy is somewhere else.

If you’re struggling with this too, surrender. There are amazing promises of God in the Scriptures that tell us who we are in Christ. Don’t miss this one. In Christ, we are exiles. In Christ, we are sojourners. In Christ, this is not our home.

This scared the snot out of me before, but now it doesn’t. Now it invigorates me. Or at least it’s starting to. Because each time I don’t feel at home here is a glorious reminder that I was made for more. Each time I feel weird, restless, like a wanderer, it’s because God is reminding me that I was made for heaven. I was made for communion with God not earthly trinkets.

This should not drive us to hide in our houses and wait for the end. Rather, this should motivate us out into mission. The verse I shared earlier in the blog is about as explicit you can get about our nature. We are sojourners and exiles, yes.

Because of this, we should deny our fleshly desires, the desires that tell us to partake of this world in ways that don’t honor God. The following verse teaches us more.

Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. – 1 Peter 2:12 

We should live in such a way that the people around us glorify God because of us.

I’ll close with these two quotes.

As Christians, we can trust in God’s guidance even while we are in exile here on earth. – Daniel Akin

We can walk in the faithful footsteps of those who have gone before us, knowing that God will sustain us – like them – all the way home. – Eric Landry 

So go ahead, accept that this place isn’t your home. It never will be.

You’re a sojourner.

You’re an exile.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

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Happy’s Porch

This world is broken. It is fractured, cracked, overwhelmed by the ravaging effects of sin upon the cosmos.14344313_1039930519457958_7959540184168886373_n

Families are in shambles, divorce and pornography run rampant, violence and death, suffering and disease. Loved ones passing away after long battles with cancer, strife between friends, financial woes, prejudice, injustice, war, slavery. The list goes on and on.

Yet this is not the way the world has always been. There was a time before the effects of sin, a time when all of creation lived in perfect harmony. A time before suffering, death, disease, and pain.

Regardless of what you believe about the creation narrative in Genesis 1-2, it is clear to see that this world used to be in perfect harmony. Reading Genesis 1 leaves me aching and yearning for that day when God will restore all things. There is such a fluid rhythm of God’s creative acts and the refrain that ‘it was good’. Trying to picture a time of perfect peace is hard to do sometimes.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the sixth day. – Genesis 1:31

Very good.

The world and everything in it was very good.

I like to imagine what perfect peace sounds like, what it feels like, what it looks like, etc. Images of being on the porch at my granddad’s house immediately flood my mind. There I would sit on the porch swing, listening to the birds call to each other, with the babbling of a forest brook in the distance with a little rain shower sweeping across the mountain.

You see, my granddad, who we affectionately called ‘Happy’ passed away less than a year ago. While I can’t imagine the pain that his spouse, siblings, and children went through when he passed, I definitely struggled and definitely still wade through seasons of deep sorrow and I miss him tremendously.

I would play and read and spend time on his porch for hours. Some of my favorite conversations and memories of him came from his porch. When I think perfect peace, I think of that porch.

Yet what happens when the place that is representative of perfect peace becomes instead a reminder of the effects of sin? What happens when Happy’s porch no longer brings the sense of peace to my soul but instead brings a painful reminder that he is no longer with us?

This is one way that the effects of sin have reared their ugly head in my life. You see, the story of the cosmos takes a turn for the worst real early on. Right after the creation of all things in perfect harmony, God makes Adam and Eve and puts them to work in the garden of Eden. Soon after, Satan comes and introduces temptation to Adam and Eve who unfortunately fall real quick. The perfection of the cosmos is shattered, and the consequences of sin are immediately imposed upon Adam and Eve and all that followed in their lineage (that is, all of us).

Yet in this bleak and dreary chapter 3, there is a promise. A promise that shines bright with gospel grace. A promise that comes flying onto the scene when it seemed all hope was lost.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. – Genesis 3:15

The Lord is cursing Satan, and makes a promise that there will be a descendant of Eve that will crush the head of Satan. Fast-forward several millennia and Jesus stepped onto the scene. He lived the perfect life you and I could not live and died the death we deserved. Three days later, he conquered death itself, crushing Satan, and making it possible for those who believe in Him to one day be with Him in paradise, in a perfect cosmos yet again.

The answer to my above question is to remember that God’s creation in the beginning was very good. The answer is to remember that God uses death, disease, suffering, and pain to bring about His glory. The answer is to remember that God is going to restore the cosmos into perfect harmony yet again. The answer is to remember the great news of the gospel. No more will we cry, be in pain, suffer, or face death. No more. Instead, as followers of Jesus, we will be in perfect harmony with God, enjoying eternal satisfaction in Him.

I loved those moments on the porch with Happy. I loved those moments of near-perfect peace.

But they pale in comparison to the wonderful perfection that is waiting for us in glory. Oh how I yearn for that day.

Brothers and sisters, if you are wading through suffering or pain, remember that this is not our home. Remember that this is for your good and His glory. Remember that there will be a day where the cosmos are totally restored.

This is good news. This is the gospel.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. – Revelation 21:4

In His Name,

Nathan Roach