What do you choose to rejoice in? What do you give thanks for? In the middle of a pandemic, do you thank God for your health, for your home, for your job that continues to provide for you through the restrictions? Could it be that you are focusing merely on the circumstantial—material and “desirable” lifestyle matters—rather than the theological?
In this interview with Archie Poulos, Director for the Centre for Ministry Development and Head of the Ministry Department at Moore College, Chase and Archie look closer at the biblical command to rejoice. In the Book of Psalms, the command to rejoice is specifically to rejoice in the Lord—the Lord who is unchanging, the Lord who is faithful. The command is actually a call to faith—to continue taking God at his word and trusting that he is good, irrespective of our circumstances. But how do we Christians do that?
Links referred to:
- Our August event: Learning to forgive with Kanishka Raffel and Philip Kern (25 August)
- Support the work of the Centre
Runtime: 36:15 min.
Chase Kuhn: I live in Sydney, where we’re presently in lockdown, once again, from the COVID pandemic, just as many places have been, off and on, throughout the world. And I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I choose to rejoice in. Often this is noticed in what I give thanks for. So in the middle of a pandemic, I thank God for health, for a home, for a job that continues to pay me through restrictions, and things like these. But one thing that’s rebuked me lately is that it’s so circumstantial: I rejoice in the material and the “desirable” lifestyle matters, rather than in specifically theological things.
And as I’ve been reading through the Psalms, I’ve been rebuked that the command to rejoice is actually rejoicing in the Lord. The Lord, who’s unchanging—who is faithful. What I’ve realised is that this command to rejoice is a call to faith—to continue to take God at his word—to trust that the Lord is good, irrespective of my circumstances.
Today on the podcast, we’re going to be thinking a little bit more about rejoicing. How do we continue rejoicing in the Lord when we feel so many ups and downs in life? Where is our anchor? And how can we be faithful to the command to “rejoice in the Lord” always?
CK: Hello, and welcome to the Centre for Christian Living podcast. My name is Chase Kuhn, and I’m coming to you from Sydney, Australia. I’m joined today by my friend, the Reverend Archie Poulos, who works with me here at Moore College, teaching in Ministry, and heads up our Centre for Ministry Development. Archie, I’m so glad to have you on.
AP: Oh, look, it’s great to be here. Thanks for inviting me, Chase! And hello to everybody out there.
CK: We’re obviously coming to you from lockdown. You and I are, of course, bonding from afar right now, Archie, and those listening, many will be in lockdown. And part of what’s prompted this episode, you’ve been giving a sermon series at college that’s really been very helpful to me and to many I know, and one of the things that struck me in one of your last sermons was thinking about joy in the Christian life and the kinds of things that actually impede joy in our Christian life. And so I thought to have you on today, Archie, to talk about the place of joy and how we keep rejoicing, even when sometimes things that we’re experiencing might act against what we would feel to be joy. And so I thought maybe, Archie, as we think about joy being something that marks the Christian life, can you begin just to share with us how you’ve been thinking about lately.
AP: Thanks, Chase! If you don’t mind, can I just take a few minutes just to outline the way I’ve been thinking about it. Then we might be able to get into a conversation about what that might look like.
Creatures and Christians
And the place where I want to start is that God has made us and given us a world where we are both creatures and Christians at the same time. And we need to recognise that. I think that was behind your introduction, really. And so, as creatures, we have the same experiences as everyone: Christians and non-Christians alike share creatureliness. And so, we are happy when good things happen and sad when bad things happen; we have fear and anxiety at poor prospects, and we have exhilaration at positive prospects. And the measure of whether we’re exhilarated or terrified is about the circumstances that we’re likely to face.
We all know those experiences as creatures. But Colossians 3 gives us a bigger and a much grander story that is ours, because we are creatures, and we are creatures who are also Christians. And so, as creatures, we are sitting in front of our television screens or with our AirPods on, listening to this little presentation. But at the same time, we are seated with Christ at the right hand of the Father (Col 3:1). And so, at the same time, we are inhabiting space and time here, but we’re also seated in the heavenlies.
Seated in the heavenlies
And so, from that, I started to ask myself, “What does that mean? How does that affect the way that I view joyfulness? And the first thing I want to say is that it gives us a perspective and a reality that comes from being seated in the heavenlies with Christ. Because if you are merely sitting in front of your computer, which we tend to do day after day, that’s not a great place to get perspective. I think we’ve all experienced, as well, that pain limits your vision and your horizons. And so, those people that sadly have to endure chronic pain view the world through and from their pain. And so, their horizons are about getting through today and about minimising pain. They’re not going to say, “That is entirely understandable”.
Now, because of our creatureliness, even if you’re not going through pain, the horizons that creatures have aren’t much bigger than that. And so, life is about enjoying today. And it’s about maximising pleasure. And something that is an additional danger—even to those that are going through chronic suffering—is that we can get content in our creatureliness. And so we don’t question our creatureliness or the comforts we have, or ever get the bigger perspective. And so, perspective that we can get from being seated beside the Father with Christ enables us to view reality differently.
One of the first ways it does it is by giving us a view of the trajectory that we are on. So what we are able to do is not just look at our circumstances today or to project a little bit further forward into the near future; we can also look back too from where we have come from and where we are now. And as we look back, it’s not pretty. Ephesians chapter 2 verse 12: Paul’s blunt statement about our condition is—our origin is—we are “without hope and without God in the world”. And I got to say, no one likes that diagnosis, and we avoid facing up to the reality of that terrible diagnosis.
Just to give you an example, this morning I woke up with what I think, in the end, must have been a pulled muscle in my ribcage. And I mentioned it to my wife and she said straight away, “Go to emergency and get checked out for a heart attack!” I didn’t go. And if I’m honest, I think I didn’t go because I prefer not to know and to hope that the pain goes away. But of course, if the pain was real, if it was a heart attack that I was experiencing, it wouldn’t go away at all. And so it is, too, with our chronic condition. That is, our history—the way Paul describes us—we are “without hope and without God” in the world.
But there’s another reason why I really don’t believe the diagnosis of being “without hope and without God” in the world and that’s because it doesn’t match my own diagnosis of myself. And of course I’m the best person at making an independent assessment of myself! [Laughter] No. You see, I think I am pretty good. I surround myself with people who like me, and people who I like. And so, they’re kind to me. They say nice things to me and about me. And that reinforces my view of myself.
And then I look at the news online and it’s always about people who do things that I would never do. Or people who make silly choices that lead to bad decisions, and I think, “Well, that’s not me. I would do so much better than that.” And so, my diagnosis of myself is “There is no problem here”.
And what a disaster that is! Nothing here to see, because that would be I have no problem with sin. I have no need to change. There is no need to deal with the judgement of God. And that diagnosis that I want to make of myself is an absolutely useless diagnosis.
But when you perceive things and view things from the Father’s right hand—when we know the goodness of God—when we see that goodness of God lived out incarnate in our saviour Jesus—we can know where we started from and we can also know the need for radical intervention in us.
You see, because I’m already seated in the heavenlies, I don’t need to hide from that terrible diagnosis. I don’t need to pretend, because the blackness of the diagnosis, no matter how black it is, has been shown to be fixable. And in fact, that diagnosis—that problem—has been fixed, because we are seated at the right hand of the Father. And so, it enables us to have right perspective. That will then affect the way that we can rejoice.
Reasons for joy
But secondly, being seated in the heavenlies leads to joy, because we know what we are and we know what we are becoming in that we will reach that wonderful goal that God has set for us.
I’ll give you an example. Everyone that I know of has been speaking about the Olympics recently. And there are, I’m sure, lots of favourite moments of the Olympics—both the highs and the lows. But for me, one of the saddest ones was watching Lonah from Israel in the women’s marathon. She was carrying the hopes of her whole nation. She was coming third, at the 38km point. That’s just 4km from the finish line! And I reckon, all of Israel was watching—hoping she would catch up the other two and she’d finish first at the end, and she would receive the gold medal—the gold medal for the women’s marathon—which is awarded at the closing ceremony. And then she would return home to a hero’s welcome. But at the 38km point, she just stopped. She just couldn’t go any further. And the benefits of winning—and even of finishing—all just evaporated.
Now that is not the story of those who are seated with Christ. We are already seated with him—already seated with him in the heavenlies. And you see, there is no way that Archie Poulos or Chase Kuhn or any of you can ever get closer to God than that. You see, victory is ours—victory is guaranteed—even though we are still running the race. Those who are seated with Christ will not suffer the same fate as Lonah did in the marathon, even when—or if—you just think you can’t keep going on. It’s then that God carries you safely to the goal. I rejoice and am greatly comforted by the words in 1 Peter chapter 1, where Peter writes that Christians have a “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” into an inheritance that is unspoiled, undefiled and eternal (vv. 3-4). But that inheritance is kept in heaven for you. And so you think, “How am I going to make it safely to heaven?” And Peter goes on: we are “shielded by God’s power” until we receive that inheritance that he’s promised (v. 5).
And so, that, then, means that the Christian life is one of joy. Knowing what we once were and being able to acknowledge that, and that it’s been completely dealt with—that leads to joy. Knowing what is ours—that which is so good and so certain—leads to joy. And being changed now and being carried by God so that we will reach that prize leads to great joy. So no matter what’s going on for us as Christians, this certainty is ours.
So as Chase said, a couple of weeks ago, I was preaching on 1 Corinthians chapter 6 in our chapel. And so I thought I’d share with you just a paragraph from chapter 6, because it captures what I’ve been speaking about, and here, listen to what we once were, and listen to what we now are in verses 9-11:
do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (ESV)
You see, there is no need to hide from our past. You were all of these immoral things. But—three letters changes everything—you were these things, but now you are justified, sanctified, by Jesus Christ. Isn’t that fantastic! And that has to percolate to joy. So it’s not just the joy of the immediate; it’s the joy eternal, which comes from what God has made us to be.
And by the way, before I hand back to Chase, that’s very different to positive psychology where, in positive psychology, you train yourself to think good thoughts, and maybe as you think good and positive thoughts, it can lead you to hope and it can lead you to strive to succeed so that you can have a better outcome for yourself.
But this reality that the Apostle Paul speaks of here in 1 Corinthians chapter 6 leads us not just to a better outcome, but to joy—to rejoicing—knowing that heaven is ours—knowing that we are going to make it. And so, in that, we strive and hope.
Now that’s the background to thinking about rejoicing. Rejoicing as creatures is—the here and now really does affect us. But there is a joy that is much bigger than that: knowing what we once were, without hope, without God in the world, and knowing that God is going to take us safely through to heaven and make it to the 42km mark of the marathon.
CK: As we take a break from our program, I really want to encourage you to join us for our next live event in a couple of days’ time that’s really relevant to our conversation today. We’ll be continuing in our series on community, this time, looking at “Learning to forgive”. The most liberating truth of the Christian life is that our sins have been forgiven. But one of the most difficult challenges of the Christian life is forgiving others as we have been forgiven. Does forgiving mean forgetting? And if we forgive, must we still trust? What about those who haven’t repented of sin?
At this event, Kanishka Raffel, Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, and Philip Kern, the Head of New Testament here at Moore College, will lead us through what the Bible teaches about forgiveness and how we might learn to forgive those who’ve sinned against us.
I really hope that you’ll plan to join us on August 25th. Or if, for some chance, you’ve listened to this episode after this event has passed, I hope that you’ll find the audio soon online and listen again.
One change to this event for those that will be joining us for the livestream is that the Q&A session is happening in advance: that is, we’re taking questions through Sli.do in advance before the event. So please be sure to register early, sign on, submit your questions to Sli.do or vote up questions you’d like answered, and we’ll be sure to try to get to many of those on the evening.
You can find out information and register at ccl.moore.edu.au. And maybe better than just you attending yourself, check out our church subscription and join in with your Bible study groups or encourage all the Bible Study groups at your church to join, once again, on August 25th.
Now let’s get back to our program.
CK: Thanks, Archie! I really appreciate that. That is incredibly helpful perspective and a lot take in, and I want to make sure that we tease that out a bit in some questions.
Just some of my initial reflections: I mean, I love how theological it is. That is, it’s so focused on what God has done. As I think about rejoicing in the struggles that I know people have, it’s so circumstantial—the ups and the downs—
CK: —the highs and the lows of sort of every day. And yet, what you’ve located as the source of our joy is the promises of God, which are sure—that are real for us even now. And so, as you said at the end, even, that the power of the recent psychology that we have—this positive thinking—is actually trying to remove yourself from your situation through better ways of reasoning or getting beyond transcending your experience. But actually, the Christian promise is hope through the experience—
CK: —and that God’s present with us even now in the midst of our experience, even as we are present with him in the heavenly places. It’s beautiful. It’s really, really helpful, Archie. Thank you!
Just before we continue on as well, one more reflection from me: I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on the commands to rejoice in the Psalms, for example—say, Psalm 100. And the final verse of Psalm 100 after it goes on in talking about how we need to make a joyful noise or serve the Lord, come into his presence with singing—all of these things—it comes down to the end for the reason for these things, and it’s “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever and his faithfulness is to all generations” (Psalm 100:5 ESV). And I think that we see, obviously, that the pinnacle of all that faithfulness showing through in Christ and what he’s done for us, and now all of us being found in him again, that gives us good reason to rejoice just because of who we are now—not in ourselves, but in who Christ is, and us being welcomed into him. And I think that’s really beautiful. So thank you.
My first question following on from all of this seems to be that a lot of the tensions we face in rejoicing presently come back to what you said in 1 Corinthians 6 just a moment ago—that we used to be certain things, but now we are washed and we are sanctified, etcetera. We still struggle with living the old life, though—that is, we don’t always walk in the newness of life and sin continues to rear its ugly head. And so I want to ask you how does persisting in sin impact our rejoicing?
AP: Yes, thank you Chase! I just—picking up on the Psalms, I find it interesting that when you look at the Psalms—sorry, I will answer your question in a sec—
AP: —when you look at the Psalms, all but one of them are in the deepest pits of despair, are the Psalmists, but he always comes out rejoicing, because of what God is like. And so, it just underlines what you were saying. But persisting in sin: one of the problems is—and this is a difficult one to navigate our way through, because we will not be perfect until the day we see Jesus face to face. And so, you’ve got to recognise that. So it’s the persisting in sin, it’s that constant sinning.
If we persist in sin, what you do, then, and what I do and now I think everybody does—and, in fact, Jesus says, “This is what you do” in John chapter 3, we hide. Remember how when Nicodemus comes to Jesus and we get the wonderful verse 16 of John 3:16: Jesus then goes on to say, men love darkness, because the light exposes their sins (John 3:19). And so, we cover up what we are doing wrong. And if you’re spending your time covering up, you will never rejoice.
And so one of the things is don’t bother trying to cover up. God sees everything anyway. So just let go. One of the things that you can rejoice about is just to say, “God, oh, I mucked up again and thank you so much. The blood of my saviour has covered my sins.” But that persistence is a terrible thing, because it makes us cover up and think that God doesn’t see.
Secondly, the reason that sin continues in my life and everyone’s life is it actually feels good. And so, as you sin and keep doing it, you still get the same feedback—same response—and so you enjoy it all the more. And what happens then is that we train ourselves that this is as good as it gets. And so, you don’t lift your eyes to what God has promised; you just want to enjoy what you think is as good as it can get.
So CS Lewis in that famous little essay talked about the boy from the slums who continues to make mud pies in the mud, when the beach holiday is offered to him1—that we just don’t know what else could be yours, and so you don’t rejoice. I think that’s one of the things we need to do. And I also wonder—this is just a speculation on my part—but I wonder if the disconnect of what we profess to be and how we actually act—whether deep down in us—it causes us to doubt what is actually promised to us and what is actually ours now. And so, I’m not measuring up to what I want to be, and so I’m like Peter Pan, living in a sort of fairyland. And that sort of thinking will sap rejoicing from us. And so persistence in sin always narrows our perspective. It’s a little bit like the person I started with who has chronic pain, I think: the chronic pain just makes you see that’s all that there is. And persistence in sin, spiritually, is like that, I think.
CK: Yeah. I think that’s really helpful, Archie. As I’ve been reflecting on rejoicing as well, and even what you’re saying just then, the battle is for faith. That is, do we actually trust in the promises that are ours? Do we actually believe what we profess to be true? And so, in one sense, sin—it certainly is a pursuit of pleasure, but it might be a pursuit of what we think must the best thing, as you’ve said, because we can’t believe the other to be true when we can’t feel it immediately. And I guess the reason why we can keep rejoicing in the promises is that if we really believe they are ours, that gives us great grounds for rejoicing, even when there are ups and downs in the present moment.
And so, it seems to me that so much of rejoicing comes back to faith—that we have to persist in faith—
CK: —that we really believe these things are ours. They’re true.
AP: Yes. And sin will get in the way of us believing that. That is, that persistent sin. Thanks, I think that’s very helpful.
CK: Yeah, I think you’re right, Archie. Well, with that, then, I mean, one of the things about sin, as you said, we can thank the Lord for the work that he’s done for us in Christ. How do we appreciate forgiveness afresh? Because one of the things that strikes me is the further Christians go on, and I realise that there are highs and lows in all different seasons, but the initial reaction of somebody who feels the release that forgiveness offers: all of my sins are pardoned. There is something just so wonderful and freeing about that moment. And yet, the longer a person goes on and they, you know, confess a sin and seek repentance, and appreciate forgiveness—at least, nominally—how can we actually keep appreciating forgiveness afresh?
AP: Yes. Thank you. You’re absolutely right: one of the joys to the person who’s sharing the gospel with another person is that when they understand what has been given to us and done for us in Christ, it’s just as you said: they just cannot help but be overwhelmed by how wonderful it is. And I keep thinking, “Why don’t I continue to have that same experience?” So I guess familiarity breeds contempt, doesn’t it.
CK: Yes, that’s right.
AP: And so there’s a few things. One of them is, don’t forget where you’ve come from. Now, this is a difficult thing that I’m going to say, because it is open to danger and abuse. And that is if I say, “Don’t forget where you’ve come from”, you can remember what you once were and you can wallow in self-pity for going back into that mud again. Or you can ruminate on your repeated failures and you just won’t make any progress. That’s not what I’m talking about here, because we all fail.
But what we’ve been changed from is a life that is marked by sin. That is, a life that is characterised by those words from 1 Corinthians chapter 6: the immoral, idolaters, adulterers—all those sorts of ones—they are the marks of your life and that could have been the way people described you, Christian person. And thank God that we have been saved from that.
If I could just choose an example again, I think ANZAC Day is a really good example. ANZAC Day isn’t a celebration of war. It is—or, at least, it should be—thankfulness. It really is a thankfulness day, because we contributed nothing to the freedom that we now have. Others paid for our freedom. And so, as we watch ANZAC Day—as we get moved by ANZAC Day—it really is being thankful.
Now, it is that much more intensified in being a Christian. Because I’ve already said it: we are seated with Christ. The greatest victory that you can possibly have from mortality to immortality—from human creature to being sons of God—we have transferred, we are victorious, and Christ achieved it, and he achieved it at great cost.
And I have to keep remembering, because this is where I get compromised, that sometimes I think it’s almost as if Christ dying for me was just on his To Do list: “Oh yeah, I’ve got to do this for Archie”. But he needn’t have done that. I was without hope and without God in the world. I and you were, by nature, objects of God’s wrath (Rom 9:22). And yet he did that for me. He was willing to suffer the cross for me. And I need to be reminded as I reread the Scriptures of what Christ has done—that I didn’t deserve this—and look at what I have been blessed with. That is, appreciating forgiveness again is not some thing that you go through over and over again; it’s actually remembering the Christ event and that he did it for me. So it’s what you said as you introduced this a moment ago, Chase: it’s remembering that it’s for me that Christ has done it. And I think that takes your breath away.
CK: Amen. Yeah. It’s a lovely message. With this, Archie, I mean, one of the things that’s rich about the Colossians passage that you were calling our attention to earlier is that there’s a command there for us—that if we’ve been raised with Christ, then we’re to seek the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Col 3:1). And that makes me just question, practically, then, how do we obey the command to rejoice always? I mean, Paul says this in Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say, rejoice!” In other words, in any circumstance, that is our call as Christians, because of who we are in Christ. So I wonder just for you personally, how do you practically obey this command? Are there things in your life that you do to continue rejoicing?
AP: Yes. Thank you. Here is where the failure of a podcast happens: I’d love to get other people’s input on this, ’cause that’s what keeps me going is to actually ask other people how they do it.
But I also think it’s here that being a creature and a Christian share much in common. Of course, the thing they don’t share in common is that being a Christian is actually empowered by the Spirit of God. But what they share in common is they both require habits. So “Rejoice always” is the question you asked of me, and the “always” is the hard bit, ’cause you can rejoice from time to time. And it’s actually habitual things. And so, I want to say, “Pick times of the day to say thank you and rejoice”. That’s one thing I do.
So to give you an example, what’s happened in the last two months for me, it takes me half an hour to drive to work and half an hour to drive home. And because I don’t drive anymore, I’ve lost an hour of driving, which most people would cheer about, and I do from time to time as well. But I used to use that hour to pray. And so, now, what I do is take half an hour—or try to take half an hour a day—where I go for a walk. That’s partly the creatureliness needing a break and to get some sun. But it’s also that I can go on the walk and thank God and rejoice in what is provided, both in the here and now of my situation, and from the perspective of eternity.
And I’ve also taken strange—I didn’t do this intentionally, but I found it really helpful—I’ve taken to remembering songs. And I’m not sure if that’s just because I’m getting older; I don’t think it’s that. But songs come into the back of my mind—songs of thankfulness and praise and rejoicing. So I said in the chapel, you know, there’s an old one that I have started humming all the time: “Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come with singing unto Zion and everlasting joy will be upon their heads”. I’m not going to sing it for obvious reasons, ’cause I can’t sing. But that’s one.
But as I’m singing that, there’s a whole lot of other ones that capture what the Scriptures say and actually make you rejoice. And so in the company of others from generations gone by, it’s actually helping me to rejoice. So they’re just a couple of the practical things that I do.
CK: Those are really love things, and song in particular, I think, is wonderful, because they’re such mnemonic devices, aren’t they: the tunes help us to recall words and put those words to commit them to memory and, in one sense, there’s a rumination on those words, because the tune gets stuck in your head or—I mean, I can hear the tune you played in chapel the other day in my mind right now. It’s a song I hadn’t heard before, but I can hear it again in my own head right now. And I guess this is part of what—
AP: It does this other thing—so can I just interrupt there for a moment?
CK: Of course.
AP: It does other things just as part of our humanity—that I—the other day, I was walking, you know, I just started humming “How Great Thou Art”, which is a very old hymn. But what it did was it made me remember the early days of coming to faith. And it’s—you know how you said before that when you first become a Christian, you’re just full of thankfulness, it just recaptured that and rekindled that for me. So there’s a whole lot of things. It’s not just the sounds and that’s the thing; just the memories are associated with some of those songs. I’ve found it really helpful to rejoice, because I think we all need help to be people of joy.
CK: Yeah. Absolutely. And sometimes the songs help us frame up a mindset even in the midst of trials and struggles that keep us remembering the location of the good and, again, the hope that we have in Jesus. And I guess that’s my final question for you, Archie, as we just close down our podcast. I mean, many of us feel that it’s easy to rejoice when things are good. And I wonder—there’s probably a danger in that. What are we actually rejoicing in in the good times? Is it prosperity? Is it health? Is it anything? And these things are fine to rejoice in, because they are indeed gifts of the Lord. But how do you keep rejoicing when times get tough?
AP: Thank you. It doesn’t seem like it’s rocket science, but it’s important to keep saying—that is, read Scripture and be ready to be surprised by it. A few years ago, I was in North Queensland. We were on holidays. And we went swimming in what used to be a crater. And I remember what it said—that if you go two metres out from the shore, it’s a three hundred metre drop down. And as I was swimming, I was both scared and exhilarated. I think that’s what Scripture does: exhilarate, ’cause the depths you could fall, even though you float; I know that. But it was actually scary. And that’s where, as we read the Scripture, there’s such depth there. And so, passages of the Bible like Romans I’ve read hundreds of times. I’m always looking to see what surprising here? That helps me not to flatten out the world and make it all mundane. Just like in that 1 Corinthians chapter 6 verse 11: the little word “but” just explodes the world for you.
Or God is my Father: my father died when I was young. But I remember, even when he was ill and spent most of his time just laying in a chair at home, that he chopped a tree out the back and I was playing out there and I actually got caught under the tree and I called out to my father and he came out and lifted it off and I got out. And that’s one of my last memories of my human father. My heavenly Father gives me the honour of calling him “Father”. And so I just pause and think about that incredible honour of calling the God who holds every molecule in the universe together: he gives me the right to call him “Father”. It is just wonderful.
And back to where we started, I think: the experience of life, I think, are like Google Maps. And that is, Google Map gives you a little picture of what the bigger reality is. And so, as we can rejoice in the little things that happen in our creaturely world, we must then step back and said, “And this is a taste of what the bigger picture is of God”. In my head, I have Matthew coming into my mind where Jesus in Sermon on the Mount says, “Look, if God clothes the lilies of the field and the grass, how much more is he going to care for you” (cf. Matt 6:28-30). If God gives you all these little good things now, how much more he is giving you in forgiveness and eternity.
But having said that too, I need to say that this is a difficult thing for those people that are going through very difficult creaturely days. And so to you folk I want to say, my heart goes out. But also you and we all need to go back to the Scriptures, because there are limitations that exist in our circumstances of life. The Google Map of your life is wrong, even though you feel it very deeply. That is, that it sometimes feels like God is a long way away when our circumstances are bad. He is not. The destination that we have put into the Google Map is absolutely sure. And what we need to do, I think, to help each other is to tell each other the stories where the Google Map looked right, but it was actually wrong. Reality is so much better than the Google Map. Reality is so much better than what we as creatures can know, because we are Christians.
I don’t know if that’s helpful, Chase, but they’re the sorts of things I wanted to say.
CK: That’s very very helpful, Archie. Archie, can I just thank you so much for being the guest on the podcast today. I’m grateful for your friendship—grateful for your ministry—and thankful that you shared these wise words with us today.
AP: God bless you all. We have a great God and he has made a great people.
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1 CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2001), pp. 25-26.