I hope C. S. Lewis was right when he wrote that we are still the early Christians. That is, to be sure, a loaded statement, and enigmatic as well, because on the face of it, it sounds simple, and we think—I think—we know what he meant. But I wonder.
In context, Lewis was writing about the denominational squabbles that Christians get into, and he was hinting that maybe someday we can all return to unity in a simple confession of faith. That would perhaps be a sign to the world that it’s worth it being a Christian. Again, I wonder.
It seems to me that if we mean by ‘early Christians’ that we have not yet understood Jesus Christ and the good news, and that we have barely begun to follow Him and be transformed, then I’d have to agree. Religion, being an early phase in humanity’s encounter with God, is long overdue to be discarded. Of course, it can’t be, because it’s still needed.
And why is it still needed? Because after two thousand years, we Christians are, corporately, still children, but not in the sense that Christ means when He says, ‘for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’
Well, wake up, kids! The modern, unbelieving world has taken what it can of Jesus Christ and the gospel, along with many other good ideas from a number of sources, and moved on ahead of you into a world idea that leaves you—I mean, us—out in the cold, standing here empty-handed, confused, feeling powerless and betrayed, but still ready to lash out at the world and each other.
How long does Christ have to wait for the son who says, ‘Yes, Dad, I’ll go to work now’ to go? The other son who says, ‘No’ to His face has been out there working for hours—no years, maybe even centuries—while we continue to just pretend, to play games and, what’s far worse, even fight with each other over trifles.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The second coming! Yes, it is at hand, in fact it’s rather long overdue. It’s late because we have done everything in our power to delay it, and then console ourselves by begging for mercy in our rounds of religious services. Christ is literally dying to come again, but as usual, the Jews are correct in this as they are correct in almost everything else.
The Messiah cannot come until the holy nation really wants Him to. And how do they, how do we, show it? The Jews say, ‘by Torah study,’ so that as prophet Habakkuk tells, ‘The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.’ But the King of the Jews, who is the Torah personified, qualifies this for us, saying, ‘everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice…’
But instead of entering the land of promise—that is Paradise, you know, which exists even now but is invisible to us until we truly follow Jesus—we stay in our camps and grumble. We continue to legislate, interrogate, pontificate and separate. Like idol worshipers who must feed, clothe and protect their man-made gods, even being willing to kill to avenge insults to them, we follow blind guides instead of Jesus. We honor dead men’s bones instead of the Living One.
This is not true only of Christians, but of Muslims and Jews as well, indeed, of the believers of any religion: If we feel we must defend our ‘god’ and punish ‘blasphemy,’ then it cannot be the real God we worship, but a man-made deity, a mere imitation, an idol. This is what we call ‘religion,’ and the world looking back at us languishing in our unspiritual stupor, has every right and reason to reject what it knows, instinctively, to be no better, and often far worse, than what it already has.
The second coming of Jesus Christ begins with the parousía of His Bride on earth, arrayed in truth, faithfulness and love, living not in the flesh, not as spirits in bondage to bodies, but as bodies animated by and obedient to the Spirit.
Two thousand years ago the God-man appears. He is Himself the New Adam, He is Paradise in human form, but only half of it. The human race, yes, all of the sons and daughters of Adam, are the New Eve, formerly hidden in His side, and revealed when His side was torn open by a lance as He died on the Cross.
With His death the fate of the whole human race was sealed. It must, we must, die. Die to what we have been for countless thousands of years. What we call ‘civilisation’ is but the final stage in a process of evolution that culminates in the appearance of the God-man. When He died, He dies for all. When He rose from the dead, He rises for all.
His work complete, ‘it is finished,’ He is with us, He gives us Himself ‘until the end of the age,’ that we too may live as He lives. This is the inevitable step. This, the true beginning of ‘the new order of the ages.’ This is what He is waiting for.
Why must we hold Him back?