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Charted Hope

Charted Hope

Charts and diagrams,

Chronology and exact detail,

Military and political moves,

What have these to do with Christ?

Are not these the genealogies

And the quarrelling about words of today,

Against which Paul the apostle warned us?

We have a living hope,

But we dissect it into minutiae,

Make these minutiae all in all,

And say we’ve studied and found it clear,

Anyone can follow our reasoning, one, two, three,

And you’re close to being damned if you don’t agree,

What do our charts and accusations,

And looking for any dirt on those whose views oppose,

Have to do with the living hope we’re supposed to hold?

(We search for the one correct interpretation,

So we can stake our name upon it,

But isn’t Christ’s body made up of

Many parts, yet still one church,

And could it not be that many interpretations

Make up one hope in Christ?)

Our dissections kill the hope, turn it

Into a battleground of mind, and clever words,

Not sustaining hope for endurance in heart,

The fruits are death – death of our unity,

Death of gracious respect, and heartfelt love,

By its fruits you shall know it…

We concentrate on getting ourselves doctrinally pure,

We see right technical understanding as more

Than having a heart that is right towards each other,

That listens, reaches out in understanding,

Doesn’t strive to be right at all costs, at another’s expense,

We think our charts prove who’s bad and who’s good,

And we support the politics of our precise delusion,

Saying all who support the opposing party or church

Are foolish, unwise, deluded, not listening to their reasons,

Which may well come from heartfelt Christian conviction,

(God knows who are His own, so we’re not to condemn or reject,

But by doing rightly, make sure we ourselves are shown to be His)

I don’t see Christ in this,

Christ who walked with compassion,

And communion with sinners,

Reaching out to draw them in,

And not ghettoising righteousness,

And condemning from afar,

Cosy in correct detail of doctrine,

We clam up into our pure communities,

Purity be damned, this purity is the enemy of love,

Salt may be useless if it loses

Its saltiness, but it’s useless too,

When shut up in the salt-cellar,

Rather than out in the world,

Fighting corruption and decay,

With love and goodness and fought-for integrity.

Words to warn us to watch and be alert

Were not the sign for heads-down study,

But heads-up loving and hope,

Not a sign to call everything conspiracy,

But just in everything to trust in Christ,

Not to convince ourselves that we know what is going on,

But to trust that Christ controls and knows all things,

Head knowledge, heart knowledge, take Your pick,

Beware the deception of fear that wants to precisely know all,

Such fear of change and the future is not born of trusting and is therefore sin,

Charts may be designs of fear, because they give illusion of knowledge and control,

And once our hope is charted, it’s framed by fear, and its dead,

Charts are a blind and a distraction, we should look

To the living Christ, and not dead, frigid charts,

We so often look at the detached structure of promise,

And don’t discern the contents of a beating heart,

We take a verse here, a verse there, living stones torn from the living word,

And dead apart from their place, we build a teetering tower of doctrine,

Passages torn apart and sundered open to fight the doctrine wars of men –

The word of God is for upbuilding exhortation,

Not a sort of key for historical accountancy –

Don’t let us trade the ongoing living and sure hope of Christ who will come

For the dead, false hopes of dates and times that delude and disappoint,

When you’re wrong, you’re wrong, don’t delude yourselves or others

By saying ‘It’s just a mistake in mathematical calculation’ and move a date,

Christ says ‘You’re wrong, you will never know, so don’t try’,

For hiding our mistakes is brother to hiding our sin and not confessing,

Then we walk in ever increasing self-regarding darkness,

And not in the hope-stirring life-giving light of Christ,

Let us take Christ’s words truly seriously – we don’t and won’t know

The exact time, nor the specific hour – we aren’t given to know the precise season,

We should not be alert because of some date theory in our mind, but always alert

And watching with heart-hope regardless of what goes on around, longing for Christ,

Don’t waste time on charts and dates and policies, but live out the Christ-life in the

world.

(c) Nathanael Lewis  05-06-2001