Maybe I was wrong
For several years now, I’ve argued that everything in the bible was completely fulfilled and finished almost two thousand years ago.
I think I might have been wrong.
My reason for the conclusion was rather simple: I, like most in the Church of Christ, assumed there was this one, big, cataclysmic event on the horizon. And when I began to notice that this one big cataclysmic event was both expected and experienced in the first century, I assumed that that was it, and the whole thing was done.
Now, I’m seeing that it’s a bit more complicated than that. Both Paul and the author of Revelation specifically talk about a “three-part” set of events, a set of events that seem to stretch beyond the first century and into our future. My CoC perspective kept those things collapsed into one single happening for a long time.
But more significant than any timeline is an understanding of what was to happen when the one big cataclysmic event was over. The disciples assumed that this was when they would begin to reign with Jesus over the nations; and Jesus didn’t correct them.
They would begin to rule, and that rule would increase without end. But ruling in Christianity always comes in the form of heroic sacrifice. And so, in the dust of the first century cataclysm, Jesus’ disciples went out in the world to demolish kingdoms and empires and vast institutions of slavery…by sacrificing their lives.
And their heroic sacrifices succeeded. So much that Rome itself tried desperately to get access to the power they were exercising. Unfortunately for Rome, you don’t get such power by painting your shields with a cross.
The first Christians saw this power as increasing without end, drawing all of creation into the life of God.
The ultimate extension of this, the outer edge of the New Testament’s vision, is the final and complete defeat of death for everyone.
The defeat of death for the first Christians happened when they saw death overcome by compassion. Their confidence in this allowed them to face down all kinds of opponents, dangers, and threats.
But for the rest of the world, death is ongoing. They are imprisoned by fear, by anger, by hate. And when this finally changes, when the world wakes up to the reality that is here, then they too will escape the slavery of death, and death will be totally destroyed.
The way we get there is through participating in the reign of Christ, sacrificing ourselves to spread the message of truth and love.