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God’s Moment

If only you had known, on this great day, the way that leads to peace!  But no; it is hidden from your sight…because you did not recognize God’s moment when it came. Luke 19:42

In my wife’s home church, where we were married, there was a young couple, not much older than us.  Sam and Samantha (not their real names) later were next door neighbors to my wife’s parents.  Sam went to work for a new hardware store which was part of a small chain.  The store had a profit sharing plan for employees in which they were paid with stock in the company.  Sam retired after 10 or 15 yrs, a wealthy man.

You see the store he went to work for was Lowes Hardware, and it was one of their first stores.  We would say he was in the right place at the right time.  It was a once in a life time opportunity, etc.

In what has to be one of the most moving and dramatic scenes in the whole Bible, Jesus begins his last journey toward Jerusalem.  Through the town of Bethany, home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, on a bright clear spring day, riding on a borrowed donkey he begins the ascent of the Mount of Olives.  Imagine how the scene might have looked.  There before them lay Jerusalem in all its splendor…and Jesus wept.

Jerusalem had missed its opportunity or soon would.  God’s moment has come and gone.  It happens all the time—to people, churches, even nations.  And it is a tragedy which can bring tears to the eyes of Jesus.

In the Bible there are two concepts of time.  One comes from the word chronos  which has to do with duration—days, weeks, months, years.  The other—kairos (used in this passage)—relates to opportunity and fulfillment.  It is the right time, the once-in-a-lifetime moment.  Someone has said, “There are critical periods in the life of men when that which is not done at the moment will never be done.”1  (1Vollmer, 181)  Contrary to the popular saying “history is repeating itself” history does not and cannot repeat itself.

Some times are more important, more critical than others.  At the top of the list is God’s visitation which comes at some time or another to everyone.  And though God can and usually does visit many times, each visit is unique and unrepeatable.

In our Seeker’s class this last Sunday we talked about Thomas who was not present with the rest of the disciples when Jesus met them on the day of His resurrection.  A week later Thomas met Jesus but it was not the same as it would have been seven days earlier.

Today and every day is a unique, unrepeatable opportunity to be involved what God is doing.  Don’t miss what God has for you today.  It will be different tomorrow.

But how can we do that?  These three things are crucial.

First- Be open to change, new things.  Quite simply it is easy to get into “ruts.”  Christians are prone to get “hung up” on tradition.  Habits can be positive but they can also get in the way of growth.  Because something worked once (or even several times), or because it worked for someone else, must not blind me to a fresh opportunity from God.  We can fall victim to what someone has called “the seven last words of the church”  “we never did it this way before.”

Second- Be open to criticism. Criticism of ourselves, our position, our ideas is not easy to take but often so necessary to God’s movement in our life.  It can come from our friends but also from those who are not.  We can learn a great deal about our selves and the gospel from those who don’t agree with us.  They can show us inconsistencies, how others see us.

The  late John Wimber told this story:

He got into a taxi with an Iranian driver in NY.  As he was pulling out of the parking place, they were almost hit by a van with a sign– Pentecostal Church.
“[The driver] got real upset and said, ‘That guy’s drunk.’  I said, ‘No, he’s a Pentecostal.  Drunk in the spirit, maybe, but not with wine.’
He asked, ‘Do you know about church?’
I said, ‘Well, I know a little bit about it; what do you know?’
It was a long trip from one end of Manhattan to the other, and all the way down he told me one horror story after another that he’d heard about the church.  He knew about the pastor that ran off with the choir master’s wife, the couple that had burned the church down and collected the insurance–every horrible thing you could imagine.
We finally get to where we were going, I paid him, and as we’re standing there on  the landing I gave him an extra large tip.  He got a suspicious look in his eyes–he’d been around, you know.
I said, ‘Answer me this one question.’  Now keep in mind, I’m planning on witnessing to him.  ‘If there was a God and he had a church, WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE?
He sat there for a while making up his mind to play or not.  Finally he sighed and said, ‘Well, if there was a God and he had a church–they would care for the poor, heal the sick, and they wouldn’t charge you money to teach the Book.’
I turned around and it was like an explosion in my chest.  ‘Oh, God.’  I just cried, I couldn’t help it.  I thought, ‘Oh Lord, they know.  The world knows what it’s supposed to be like.  The only ones that don’t know is the Church.’”1

Third- Constantly evaluate in light of God’s will and purpose.  That must take precedence over any method, person, or institution.  It is always the underlying question in any circumstance, action or decision.  It is always the foundation of any opportunity.

1John Wimber, Cutting Edge, Sprng ’03, p 5

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