By Not Known
“The nature of the church, not as an institution, nor yet perfected as the body of Christ, is the seat of Christ’s operations in his redemptive work. It thus bears the characteristics of the reign of Christ, but alas, also the features of a society still under sin.” – Revd Dr Kevin F. Scott2
What Dr Scott has written in the opening paragraph of his journal article is a stark reminder that the Church of Jesus Christ, defiled yet redeemed, constantly exists under the grace and mercy of God in view of the Day of his judgement. This perspective offers a lot of help when Christian people suffer injustice in society. It helps us to revere God’s justice, to accept God’s providence, and resist temptation to be vengeful.
When evil and injustice thrive in broad daylight, it is human to question the natural logic of such disorder. Fairness does exist as a human common sense. Unfortunately, our sense of fairness driven by our fallen nature has often produced negative reactions, such as retaliations, quarrels, and blames.
For Christian people, our tendency is to point fingers at the world as the source of our sufferings with injustice. We may also resent God for allowing these sufferings. Between the ‘world’ and ‘God’, Christian people can easily wallow in self-righteous pity, like Israel in the days of Malachi. If only God would act on his justice… If only he would destroy the wicked immediately… If only…
But if the church, the people of God, is at once defiled and at once redeemed, then evil and injustice are not just problems of the ‘world’, but also problems of the ‘church’. For this reason, the apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:16-18: if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgement to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
Wickedness and injustice are urgent problems that follow all people today as in the days of Malachi. However, these problems are not just in the ‘world’, they are also in the ‘church’ redeemed, still being redeemed, and will eventually be redeemed. Without the “urgent patience” of God in Christ with his people, we would be destroyed. The “urgent patience” of God is needed such that when the number of his elect is gathered from the world into his church, his judgement will come without delay at the appointed time.
Let’s thank God for his “urgent patience” with us. Let’s revere his justice and do what is right with him.
1. This term is borrowed from Scott, Kevin F., ‘The Church and the Urgent Patience of Christ’, Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Spring, 2009), 5-23.
2. Ibid., p. 5