Do you act as if God's promises are a fairy tale?
How much faith do you put in God's promises? Does your life reflect hope in a future? Does it reflect hope in the Kingdom of God? Does it reflect joy in Christ now being seated in heaven?
If you have doubts that it does, perhaps you are suffering from Ascension Deficit Disorder.
It seems appropriate to address this, on the weekend when Christ's ascension to heaven is commemorated. Rex Morgan gave a sermon with this as his topic at our weekly service, and a couple of the slides have been included in this blog post.
In a book titled "The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry" by Andrew Root and Kenda Creasy Dean, Dean describes A.D.D. as the tendency -
"...to act as though the future God has promised in Jesus Christ is a fairy tale, which shrivels our ability to practice hope. When we don't believe that Christ's promise to secure the future is true, we live as people fearful for our own prospects, protecting ourselves instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to use us as Christ's witnesses. A.D.D. is the reason churches get distracted so easily from the work Jesus commissioned us for: to be his witnesses throughout the earth. Instead, we are stymied and stressed, straining to make sense of the future's cloudy uncertainty" (p202).
To act as if the Holy Spirit is not alive and working in our lives, is to deny God the opportunity to use us. Jesus did not die for nothing. He died to give eternal life, not just to us but to all mankind.
Looking back at the time he spent with his disciples after his crucifixion, Jesus used the time to speak about the Kingdom of God, to speak about the future and the Great Commission. He encouraged them by the powerful witness of his physical presence, proof of his resurrection. And when the time came for him to return to his heavenly home, he encouraged them to continue in the power of the Holy Spirit even though he was gone from their presence.
But once Jesus was hidden from sight, a cloud hiding him from their view, perhaps their doubts started to form. Perhaps they relied on Jesus' presence too much, to bolster them. Perhaps they didn't realise that the Holy Spirit would be that presence, that comfort, and guide that they were used to having in the person of Jesus. Did their faith flag? Did they go back to their lives and act as if they never knew Jesus? Or were they nostalgic in hope for the return of Jesus Christ, when the ending of the whole story would unfold? Or, even better, were they eager in the hope of the return of Jesus Christ, knowing the certainty of his return would be a glorious culmination of his life's work, that to be a witness to that life's work was now their privilege and honour?
The work of Christ isn't over, he is still interceding for mankind, and he is seated at the right hand of God doing that 24/7. Our role is to tell people about that, and to let them know Jesus is still alive.
“God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:20-23
It is encouraging to know that Jesus is in control. He does have all power, and all things are under his feet. He is above us in all ways. Some of those with Ascension Deficit Disorder, they do not act as if Jesus is above all. Sometimes they think it is all up to them, and that they need to fix things on earth themselves, forgetting that God has a plan for all things, and he knows all things. Sadly, when things are not "fixed" in their own way or timeframe, they start to lose hope and focus. In looking too hard at the ground, they lose sight of Jesus above.
Instead, let us remind each other of the verse in Hebrews 4:14:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
Read more of the book by "The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry"... HERE (sample on Google Books) by Andrew Root, Kenda Creasy Dean, InterVarsity Press, Oct 12, 2011. ISBN-10: 0830838252
Some graphic elements used in this blog have been sourced from Freepik.com.