Let’s pretend for a moment that Jesus didn’t know everything when he was on earth. That he didn’t speak to people about the distant future, far removed from them, but that he spoke to them about their immediate future. That he really cared for his immediate audience and blessed them with a relevant message. And that He spoke about things that a first century Jew could understand from a deep understanding of the Hebrew Bible. Let’s pretend Jesus was a straight forward guy, with a simple and true message to his original audience. Though it was not necessarily correctly understood by everyone. And that this message was divinely inspired, meaning that is was correct as delivered and as real as God.
This is likely what Jesus’ message was about. It was probably a radically relevant message to his original audience. Moreso than we’ve given him credit for. Go back and read his words and see for yourself. He spoke to them about eternal truths and changes that were being ushered in among them – then and there.
Upon rethinking our view of Jesus for a moment and seeing the humanness and first century relevance of his message, it takes on something of a shift. I call this shift, radical audience relevance. Even though it is just regular audience relevance, I use ‘radical’ to signify that we’re doing something different than what has been done by most thought leaders and readers before us.
What was Jesus’ simple message to his original audience? Do we believe the message he gave to them was true? Did his promises to them come true for them? And what implications and applications does this have for us today?
What happens when we consider that the “you’s” and “we’s” of the New Testament letters were directed at them, and NOT US. Those letters were addressed TO THEM, they were THEIR MAIL, and not ours. Don’t worry, this doesn’t diminish the message’s to irrelevance for us. In fact, I found that it strengthens it. Makes Jesus a real guy, who spoke to real people and kept his word to them. This gives me assurance he is a trustworthy guy for me to build my faith on as well. So, really believing Jesus does shift things afterall. Perhaps significantly enough to cause not a few awakenings to Jesus’ sacred presence all around us. That is, for those who are ‘willing to accept it’ as he says.
The resulting is that this means that now, WE are one giant leap closer to the Sacred Presence of Jesus here on earth with us.
You see, most mainstream evangelical churches today teach that we currently live in an age that is mostly governed by evil forces (2 cor 4:4, Eph 2:2, Jn 10) and that Jesus is largely absent here. I used to believe this. Now, I’ve come to believe that, instead, we’re living in the “age about to come” – the New Covenant age – the Kingdom of God populated by New Creation people, the ‘heaven and earth’ of the New Covenant, marked by His law of love. This New Age was taught to the disciples in the New Testament to be breaking in around them. It is the age where the Sacred Presence of God is renewing everything, where God is giving out leaves of healing for the nations. And, WE can be a part of it! For the first time, the story of Jesus really does sound like GOOD NEWS!
What does this change feel like? It feels like I took my head out of the sand. I looked around and I could SEE. I realized God’s Sacred Presence is all around us and inside us. As Thomas said, “The kingdom is all a
round us, but people just don’t see it.”
This change in my faith has resulted in phenominal positive changes in my life. Such as a more optimistic world view. The effects of this bear upon everything from my daily happiness, to the power and motivation I have to plot for good in the world, to more positive parenting methods, to how excited I am to share this message of faith, hope and love.
Preterist author J. Stuart Russell summed it up like this:
“Every word is spoken to the disciples, and to them alone. To imagine that the ‘ye’ and ‘you’ . . . apply, not to the disciples to whom Christ was speaking, but to some unknown and yet non-ex
istent persons in a far distant age, is so preposterous a supposition as not to deserve serious notice.”
This does not mean that the Scriptures aren’t relevant messages for us. They contain the very words and story of Jesus! What could be MORE relevant a message for our spiritual lives? But the “you” in Scripture were real people too. And the message was real and first for them. It applies to us by implication. This does not diminish anything, it actually makes the message MORE real. Central to the New Testament message is the imminent Parousia of Jesus. Paul makes it clear to his audience that he believes Jesus is returning to THEM, and he tells them so, over and over and over. Many of his messages actually hinge upon the Coming of Jesus to them. The question then becomes do we believe Paul’s message TO HIS AUDIENCE was correct? Paul based his teaching and expectation for the
first century Coming of Jesus on Jesus’ own teaching. So, do we believe Jesus was correct? If so, then how does this effect your beliefs when you really flesh them out? Do you believe the presence of Jesus is here with us now?