Understanding the Ascension

Durer_Ascension_DetailThe church has wounded so many people in its past and present. It will do so again it its future. That sounds awfully strange for a Christian (much less a pastor) to say, does it not? Not if the Christian is seeing clearly. Anytime a group of people gets together, someone is going to be hurt. This goes for even the most well-meaning groups of people. This, of course, includes Christian people and church leaders. How could it not? Denying that would be denying what is right in front of our faces.

Sin puts us all on the same level. Look at the headlines and listen to the stories of your brothers and sisters in Christ. This is why we can never say, “To look upon the church is to look upon Christ.” Our Lord would be an awfully mixed bag if that were the case. There is something that differentiates the church from everyone else.

Have you ever seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind? It is my favorite movie. Early in the movie, François Truffaut asks a crowd of Indian people where they heard the (famous) five notes of the aliens’ message. They all pointed up toward the sky in unison. A riveting moment. This is the message of Christianity. The Risen Christ ascended bodily to the Right Hand of the Father. By the power of the Holy Spirit, it is there we all look up to our ascended Head by faith. It is from the Right Hand of the Father that the new creation will finally be completed and every tear will be wiped away. It is in the Risen and Ascended Lord that our hope and future lies in totality.

This is a most encouraging word. This means we can hope even when the church has hurt us. This means I can point to the Ascended Christ even when I have failed to reflect His glory and love to others. The Ascension is crucial to understand for many reasons, one of the most important of which is that ultimate hope for you doesn’t come by looking at me.

— David Browder