Thursday, 24 November 2016

It looks like nonsense but it's really hope

Sometimes Christians do goofy things, students at Smithville Christian High School were told at today’s chapel. 
 “One of my favourite coffee table books is ‘Stuff Christians Like,’” said speaker Laura de Jong at the fourth chapel of Spiritual Emphasis Week 2016.

The book contains descriptions of things Christians do that might seem baffling to others, she said. Side hugs, knowing how to avoid being asked to lead a group prayer,  leaving room for the Holy Spirit at a high school dance or using a Christian pick-up line like: “I was reading through the Book of Numbers and realized I didn’t have yours.”

Sometimes these things are funny but often they make no sense to others, de Jong said. That is what was happening in Jeremiah 32. The prophet was asked to do something – buy his cousin’s field – that made no sense.
Jeremiah had run afoul of the king and was under a form of house arrest, the Babylonian king was about to invade and make the land worthless, yet Jeremiah obeyed God and fulfilled the Israelite custom of redeeming a family member’s property.

But Jeremiah’s “nonsensical economic exchange made a bold statement about the future,” de Jong said. The Israelites were in trouble, but Jeremiah’s purchase “was a concrete, tangible sign of hope.”

There are more things – not in the coffee table book – that Christians do that do not make sense to the rest of the world, she said.

They believe that to receive, they must give.
To gain strength they must surrender.
To succeed they have to learn to fail.
To find themselves they must lose themselves.
To fulfill themselves they must forget themselves.
To live is to die to self.
To be first is to be last.
They give away 10 per cent of what they earn, they spend hours a week in church, and look for answers to today’s problems in a 2,000-year-old book.

Sometimes, she would prefer to focus on clothes, music or popularity instead of a relationship with Jesus, de Jong admitted. 

“I want to fit in to this me-first, celebrity-driven, power-hungry world.”

But it’s better to live more like Jeremiah.

“We are people who anticipate a future beyond the realities of this world,” she said. “We know that the day is coming when the backwards, upside-down kingdom of God” takes over and makes all things new.

“We live in the hope of a fully restored earth, a new creation.”

Until then, we live as “already, but not yet” citizens of a kingdom, opening ourselves up to the power of the Holy Spirit, and living not for personal advancement or fame but in order to tell the whole world that there is hope.

*  *  * 
A student praise team led in worship with “We Were Made to Thrive,” “Multiplied,” and “Come as You Are.” 

Spiritual Emphasis Week concludes with a final chapel on Friday at 9 a.m. and a concert at 1:15 with FM Reset. All are welcome.

More about Laura de Jong            
Laura de Jong grew up in St. Catharines, and attended Beacon Christian High School. She studied History, English, and Congregational Ministry Studies at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she also led worship and worked in residence life. Laura is finishing up her Masters of Divinity at Calvin Theological Seminary, and hopes to do church ministry after graduation. She's a staunch defender of all things Canadian, is enjoying finally learning how to cook, and believes next year belongs to the Blue Jays.

To contact Laura de Jong or to find out more about where she's been or where she's going, check out LauradeJong

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