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“God moves carefully and deliberately through time. He is not hurried by impending end of life as we are. He weaves steady Kingdom progress into the destructive chaos of fallen humanity trying to control our world.”
The Perspectives course we are offering through fifteen weeks of this coming fall seems at first look like a very large commitment of time.
Do you marvel, as I do, how willing we are to expect that quick-fix offers will actually work? “Just ten minutes a day (with this weird exercise machine made out of oversized rubber bands) will make you lose hundreds of pounds!” “Just one jar of lotion and your wrinkles will disappear forever!” I confess I SO want those solutions to work. Yet the opposite is usually more true. We learn most deeply when we put time and effort into that learning. Eugene Peterson titled one of his books “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction,” and the key word for me is “long.”
So I realize that it’s hard for many of us to commit to the “long obedience” of something like Perspectives. And, anyway, what is it after all? Sounds like a history class, right? You might suspect it is a philosophy/theology class as well, discussing the various aspects of what the Christian Faith movement thought and taught in each era. Maybe you think it’s a class on economics - you know - Roman Empire (wealth), Barbarians (plunder), Vikings (more plunder), Medieval Kings and peasants (agricultural economy and warfare), and on and on.
It may interest you to know that I bore easily. There’s a point in the latest “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie where the quartet stop to discuss strategy. For a full thirty seconds no one is blown up, no turtles or bad guys spin through the air or dodge a thrown automobile in slo-mo. Thirty seconds of talk, and after the first five seconds I’m outta there and heading for the popcorn stand. I bore EASILY. So perhaps it will be a witness of fact that I’ve taken the Perspectives course six or seven or eight times (I wasn’t keeping count, not knowing that someday I’d write a blog about this and need to remember that particular stat). It’s not boring.
There are many ways to attempt to describe the unique character of Perspectives sessions, but none of them - by describing - can describe the quality of weightiness and aliveness that is in them. I mean, it looks like a series of seminars that lives up to the course’s name by giving faithful attenders a clear “perspective” on the spread of the gospel from his twelve - make that eleven - disciples, until now. The teachers, week by week, are different. They are people who have been out and involved. They have been out there and seen what God is doing and bring that view into their teaching.
And there is the testimony of the information itself - this quiet sense of amazement at what and who God has used at each stage of human disaster (what we gently call “history”) to both allow us the freedom of our rebellion against him, and yet work through it to spread this message as he has begun The Great Reclamation of bringing his Kingdom.
Even more, there is the sense that you are waking to the blunt announcement of the Bible that Jesus is King, by golly, and intends to BE King, and that we are patiently but insistently being prepped, right up to and including our day, and us - you and me, in particular.
There is an aroma of announcement. You feel you should be creating a small private workspace in your garage or apartment or room...or suitcase...for a banner or two, a couple of Roman Candles, a can of grease paint so you can smear a big “J” on your stomach (and find four others with an “E” or “S” or “U”) to stand together on the parade route...preparing for a very big moment coming some day ahead.
So I don’t really think of this as a “class”, even though we offer an option of college credit for it. I also don’t consider it a “seminar” although there is a giant book of readings you really need to buy (borrow? steal?) and read through...very helpful to gaining (here’s that word again...) perspective. You could legitimately call it an “announcement” (see paragraph above), or a Life-Direction Reorientation Event (“LDRE”), or maybe a “Wake-up Call on Redial.”
I remember one person who was an actual professional journalist comparing it to White House briefings, which he thought were the most exciting meetings he ever attended, with weekly world and national events being announced and information being disseminated as events, initiatives, and responses were dancing around each other on the world stage. He sensed the same excitement - a clarity of the same kind, like “Coming-King Throne-room briefings” as the Day of the Crowning approached.
I don’t know quite how to end this non-description description of Perspectives, but let me try this - there’s nothing quite like it out there, and you really ought to clear space in your life to do this. Maybe you have just too much going on right now and it’s not going to fit. That’s OK. We’ll offer it again down the line, and there are other courses offered around the area fairly frequently. Find a time. Fit it in. I trust that you will know if God is calling you to do this one, even if it doesn’t seem to fit well right now. I’ll really be surprised if it doesn’t hugely help your perspective on your faith and our coming King. For many, it is life-changing. For me, taking it repeatedly is necessary to maintain that early-on change.
We have scholarships to help with the cost, but the cost is not great. We’ve kept it low. It’s not free, but it is worth it. If you absolutely cannot afford it and can’t get a scholarship, talk to me. Maybe I can miss a car payment, or sacrifice a half-year of Mocha Latte’s for you (maybe...!). That’s how important to serious followers of Jesus I think this experience is.
We forget sometimes that the promises of Jesus’ return are serious in Scripture. We easily lose sight of the steady and incremental preparation for Jesus’ first advent that are so evident in the Old Testament. To his contemporaries they were too, which is why Jesus had to point them out over and over again.
God moves carefully and deliberately through time. He is not hurried by impending end of life as we are. He weaves steady Kingdom progress into the destructive chaos of fallen humanity trying to control our world. He is like a preschool teacher who manages to set the table for lunch in the midst of a swirling pack of three and four-year-olds smashing toys and crayoning everything reachable. He does not lose his way, but he also does not ignore what we are doing. Instead, he incorporates it in surprising, even comical ways.
If you come, it will be much easier for you to gain a perspective on that movement. And peace and trust will grow in your heart as you begin to “get” the very large hand of God stirring our world. At least it did for me, which is why I will be there again this fall.
Register for Perspectives 2016 »
Jim serves Cornerstone through pastoral care and by overseeing internal ministries and administration.
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