God’s not a train

TunnelWe all have used the cliche "there’s light at the end of the tunnel".  This is a most common phrase of hope and encouragement when darkness enters our lives, which for most is a frequent occurrence.  If the proverbial tunnel is our path through life, then the accompanying darkness is representative of all that threatens our well being.  Of course, the old joke is that one hopes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an oncoming freight train!  Yet, we who claim to follow Christ often think of God like Union Pacific; an unstoppable rail guided force crushing everything in His path.  To the evil one, this is an appropriately crude metaphor, but to those who are called His children,  it is this ideology, not God Himself, which is life crushing!
Conversely, let’s not take the easy way out and equate the light merely with some far off event or realm that we cross death’s door to escape to.  The problem with today’s evangelical presentation is that the gospel has been reduced to the semi-gospel, that being one that champions sin-guilt removal and post death eternal life instead of the complete gospel which includes sin removal and "now life". Could it be that we’ve altered Christ’s gospel in order to placate the human need for escape? In order to escape guilt and eternal damnation, are we in reality removing ourselves from God-breathed life in the process?  In reality, that light we equate to either a fatal collision or fire exit, is actually the way through the darkness!    So that I’m not completely misunderstood, there’s no need to omit or deny the great things that await us in the next phase of life.  I remember Dallas Willard once asking, "do you ever think about what you’ll be doing 400 years from now?"   He said it to illustrate the continuance of eternal life; to connect the life we are  in now to the one on the other side of death because eternal life doesn’t begin after our last breath, we are in it now! So for me, as I travel through this darkened tunnel, the tiny light at the end reminds me of a distant star.  SunIf we could travel light years into space, all the while focusing on its twinkling, by the end of our long trek we would find an inferno consuming everyone or thing within proximity!  Obviously, those who have stayed the course and pursued the twinkle find themselves consumed by everlasting love, not judgement!  Ah, staying the course. Therein lies the secret to this life!  Paul compared it to a race, not for competitive purposes, but for conditioning.  Willard describes this life we’re in now as "training for reigning".  With this in mind, we need to open our eyes and view the now-life as a darkened tunnel with forgiveness as the entrance, and a glorified creation as it’s exit.  You see, so many Christians settle to loiter just inside the tunnel’s entrance dreaming about the other end, yet contentment eludes them.  They either ignore Christ’s call to abundant life or misunderstand the fact that the darkness is the atmosphere in which we obtain it!  Traveling the tunnel builds the character necessary to withstand the consuming fire that marks the tunnel’s exit.  Theologians call this sanctification.  It seems we’re not fond of that leg in the marathon.  We rest on the laurels of justification and wait for glorification.  My question is this.  How is it possible to start and finish a race without ever running it?   Next question, how do we ever hope to survive God’s presence after death if we don’t thrive in His presence now?

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