• johned@aibi.ph

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Eternity 79 - Thrown Down By God

(Malachi 1:4 NKJV) Even though Edom has said, "We have been impoverished, But we will return and build the desolate places," Thus says the LORD of hosts: "They may build, but I will throw down; They shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, And the people against whom the LORD will have indignation forever.

If you saw Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - you saw Petra in Edom, and the cities carved out of rock. Grand but desolate until today and a reminder of a once great past civilization. Edom tried to rebuild - but God tore it down. God will tear down things that are built in sin or in wickedness - such as the Soviet Empire in our day. He will tear down dictatorships, and corrupt corporations, the get-rich-quick IPO's and the violent aggressors alike.

They can plan and sweat and labor away- but in the end it will crumble and fall, thrown down by the Lord. On the other hand God establishes the righteous in the land and builds them and plants them and causes their works to endure. The dynasty of David and the descendants of Abraham are two spectacular examples of this.

An article came out today on the National Geographic website and the Christian Science Monitor about a recently discovered ossury dated 63 BC with the inscription "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus". This limestone box has lasted for 2000 years. God has preserved its inscription for us today. God Almighty can preserve that which He wishes to preserve and destroy that which He wishes to destroy. As I get older I think about this - will anything I do last? Will the words I write matter in ten, fifty or a hundred years time? Will what I build continue to have influence - or will it subside like a ripple in a pond? That which is carefully crafted in God lasts. The Proverbs of Solomon are 3000 years old and still fresh today, and the writings of the classic Christian authors, though not Scripture, still seem timeless and true.

Sometimes in the search for "the latest" we worship the fleeting, the ephemeral and the "trendy". Our work is a vapor, swooshing here and there but looking outdated in two or five years time. The management consultants of the nineties, the church consultants, the gurus and the pollsters, all boastfully giving opinions that fade away with the echoes of the sound bite. Before I sound too negative, I used to work as a careers and management consultant!

They have their place, but it should be a humble one. What I am opposed to is building vast, proud human edifices. Building for the world and for human vanity - and in the end building against God. The things of ego and vanity will come to nothing. Like Edom they will at best be an empty grandeur, a lost civilization, a shell of their former glory. We need to ground our business on eternal values and lasting truths. The corporations that endure for centuries (and some have) generally have a solid core of good practice and human decency. They are not charities, and God does not requite them to be. But they are wise, sound, solid, careful and humane.

Ministries can be like that too! Some seem to be "fly-by-night" affairs, of spectacular vision for a very short season, while others build solidly through the centuries. For instance the Anglican "Church Missionary Society" is over two hundred years old and is still doing high-quality evangelical ministry today, and the Moravians had a 24-hour missionary prayer vigil that went for 150 years!

What characterises good ministries that outlive their founders and which stay fresh? I think you will find a solid and clear Christology at the center of them all. They know Jesus and they know why Jesus matters and they know how their ministry flows from the cross and from the gospels.

The Moravians used to have mottos such as "Tell the story of the Lamb" and "Preach the wounds of Christ". It was their Christology that drove their ministry - and it lasted because Christ is eternal and the ground of all that is eternal. Sociological, anthropological, missiological and financial principles matter and can be helpful, but they should never be foundational!

It is Christology that must be the foundation of ALL ministry that is called Christian. From His incarnation to His baptism, healing ministry, teachings, suffering, death, resurrection, ascension, high-priestly ministry, right through to His return. Our ministry must be the sort of ministry He would do, and run on the principles He espoused and towards the goals He set for His church. Sit down with pencil and paper and ask "How is Jesus central to my ministry?" and develop your own foundational Christology. Build a work that lasts - and will not be torn down by time and by God.

For Christological articles try: http://www.aibi.ph/articles/messiah/

John Edmiston
Asian Internet Bible Institute


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