Embrace Geneva's Future: World Communion, Reformation, Christ the King and Making Disciples
Reverence: a Reflection on Malachi 4:1-2a, Psalm 98, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, and
Matt Woodley, the managing editor of the website preachingtoday.com, relates the following story:
Are you ready for the end of the world? If not, a company named Vivos can help you and your loved ones get prepared. The Vivos website says, “Whether we want to believe it or not … we are on the cusp of an increase in number and magnitude of events that may, in the twinkling of an eye, change the world, as we know it.” They list a range of possible cataclysmic disasters, including Armageddon, plagues, a solar kill shot, a super volcanic eruption, major earth changes, killer asteroids and comets, mega tsunami’s, an economic meltdown—not to mention manmade threats, including nuclear explosions, a reactor meltdown, biological or chemical disasters, terrorism, and widespread anarchy. But for a mere $35,000 per person, you can co-own an underground Vivos shelter in one of their airtight, fully self-contained, impervious complexes designed to survive any catastrophe. Their website advertises: Our [complexes] comfortably accommodate community groups from 50 to 1,000 people, in spacious living quarters, outfitted and stocked for a minimum of 1 year of autonomous survival to ride out the potential events. Every detail has been considered and planned for. Members need to only arrive before their facility is locked down and secured from the chaos above. Their website warns that “millions will perish or worse yet, struggle to survive.” But they also boldly promise, “Vivos is your solution to ride out these catastrophes, so you may survive to be a part of the next Genesis!” They also offer this reminder: “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.”
The texts in Malachi 4:1-2a, Psalm 98, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, and Luke 21:5-19 are all about those who revere God who restores and heals. There is no need to fear the end of the world and live in an underground shelter. The journey of discipleship has moments of reverence.
Malachi 4:1-2a reminds us that God gives salvation and healing in an ongoing basis for those who revere God’s name. God’s love and faithfulness to humanity are steadfast and never ending. Malachi 4:2 reads, “But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings.”
Psalm 98 clearly states that God reigns. Period. In a time when oppressors exist and always will and genocide continues to be a part of the human experience, be reminded that a new day is coming because God is sovereign. Psalm 98:2-3 reads, “The Lord has made known his victory…He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness…All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.”
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 asserts that every human being innately wants to contribute to a meaningful existence for themselves and others regardless of the circumstances they may find themselves in. And yet we know society struggles with the increasing number of homeless living on the streets and panhandling for money. The money expended to care for and provide to the underemployed, unemployed and mentally ill is staggering. But there is still a new thing that God is writing in the lives of these who live on the margins of society and are a drain on governmental services. Jesus reminds us, however, that whenever we give and love to the least of these, we are doing it unto him. 2 Thessalonians 3:13: reads, “Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.” Experience the now and not yet of God’s new thing.
Luke 21:5-19 depicts a trust that the people of God are to have. To have that trust, we must grab hold of God’s faithfulness. This enables a different experience of hope. This hope requires commitment and trust, however, to see it through. God’s faithfulness invites each one of us to be faithful. God promises to rebuild our lives now. We are to remain committed to and trust in God to bring about the new life. God is faithful, merciful, and loving. God continues to save us day in and day out. Luke 21:19 reads, “By your endurance you will gain your souls.”
Admit and confess the need for a change of mind and heart about the purpose of being a Christian and a participant in the church. Recognize the toxins in your life and our faith community that deplete your reverence as a follower of Jesus, your discipleship. Here are a few: Let go of the past for it does not fix anything. Focus the church’s generosity outwardly for the sake of others. Practice the Sermon on the Mount, the Great Commission, and Matthew 25. Do not be motivated or guided by your preferences in music or worship styles. Value a long tenure for a pastor who leads. Doing these things bring reverence to your walk with Jesus and your participation in the mission of God in and through this congregation. Yes, the journey of discipleship has moments of reverence, and those moments increase when the toxins are purged.
Be ready for the Second Coming of Christ. God is writing God’s unconditional love for you and others on your heart. Now is the time to love God and others. Demonstrate love in word and deed. God is not yet finished with the new thing. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead…Your resurrection from the dead in and through your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, reminds you that your time is now because the end could be tomorrow. God is doing the new thing in your life, even now, so that your experience of tithing from your cognitive, affective, physical, spiritual, and financial resources from your life wallet will really matter to you and others. Do not grow weary in doing good. Lean into Geneva’s Vision. “All are welcome here. Really, we mean that! Just as God welcomes all who believe in Jesus Christ, Geneva aspires to be an inclusive congregation worshipping, learning, connecting, giving, and serving together.”
This illustration provided by Matt Woodley, managing editor, PreachingToday.com; source: Douglas Rushkoff, Present Shock (Penguin Group, 2013), 245; Vivos website (accessed on April 10, 2013). In all five sections of textual analysis, I have benefited from the thinking of L. Juliana M. Claassens, Song-Mi Suzie Park, Kimberly Bracken Long, D. Cameron Murchison, Philip Wingeier-Rayo, Patrick Oden, and Michael Pasquarello III in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery, and Cynthia L. Rigby, editors, Connections, Year C, Volume 3 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2019), 478-480, 480-482, 483-485, 486-488, 488-489, 490-492, and 492-494.