4 Essentials for Your Broken World Survival Pack

Last Sunday night I received a call at 1:30 a.m. It was my son, Schaeffer.

Those are never “good news” calls. 

A little back story.

It was the last night of his spring break. He and some friends were enjoying a late night slice of pie at the City Cafe’ in Downtown Chattanooga. His Jeep had been in the shop for 2 ½ months having the engine replaced… twice.

It was 1:30 a.m… in downtown Chattanooga, and his Jeep wouldn’t start. All it could be was the engine again. I couldn’t go back to sleep. Would I have to drive up and have it towed? Would the engine have to be replaced again?

The stress kept me up all night. 

  • But it’s not just vehicles that break. Everything breaks.
  • Appliances. Electronics. Our bodies. Relationships. Dreams are shattered.
  • Just this week: Commercial airline crash. Midwest floods. The revelation of widespread academic corruption. A mass killing in New Zealand. 

How are we to survive our journey through such a broken world?

1 Corinthians 13:8b-13 provides an answer, giving us 4 Essentials to Include in Our Broken World Survival Pack.

13:8b Where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part 10 but when the perfect comes, what is in part passes away.11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then, we shall see face to face. Now, I know in part; then, I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Essential #1: EMBRACE OUR CONTEXT

Paul says in verse 9, “When the perfect comes.”

The Greek word for perfect is telios.

Teleology (teleos + logos) is “the study of somethings purpose, goal, or end -- finality).

For example, the Greek philosopher Aristotle claimed that an acorn's telos is to become a fully grown oak tree.

Theologians call our present context “the already but not yet.”

The tree has sprouted but is not full grown.

We are living in the middle of history.

Like a story. There is a beginning/creation (Genesis) and a conclusion (Revelation). In the middle, there is struggle, strife, chaos, brokenness, and sin.

There is also redemption. There is grace. Because there is a cross in the middle of history.

We are living in the middle of history. Like a story. There is a beginning/creation (Genesis) and a conclusion (Revelation). In the middle, there is struggle, strife, chaos, brokenness, and sin.There is also redemption. There is grace. Because there is a cross in the middle of history.

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A glorious “conclusion” awaits those who receive the grace proclaimed by that cross → paradise restored.

Understanding life in the “now” is like putting a puzzle together and realizing that there are lots of pieces missing. God has all the pieces and will reveal them in due time. 

Essential #2: VALUE GOD’S GIFTS

While the Corinthians tended to overemphasize the three gifts Paul mentions in verse 8, prophecy, tongues, and words of knowledge, they were given by God to help us know him and grow closer to him in “the already but not yet.”

I spent the summer of 1989 in Spain. Kristy and I were dating at the time. Received letters almost daily from Kristy. This was pre-internet and cell phone.

We tried talking on the phone once, but at $10/minute (dollars, not cents!), we had to talk so fast we couldn’t understand each other. 🙂 So we wrote letters.

I cherished those letters. Read them and reread them.

This is what these gifts were given to help us understand and cherish -- God’s letters to us in the Bible, personally applied.

This is why Sundays together are designed to be a weekly oasis of grace, where God’s words to us are central to all we do, serving as a means of grace to help us know God more intimately as we journey through the brokenness.  

Essential #3: LOOK AHEAD

In verses 11-12, Paul uses two illustrations, not just for theological purposes to indicate when the temporariness of the spiritual gifts that would cease but to encourage us to look ahead to the day when the kingdom fully comes in all of its perfection and maturity. Twice he contrasts the “now” with the “then” to come.

Those of us who were taken by our parents on long road trips remember saying those words, “How much longer?”

That is still the cry of the soul, isn’t it? “How much longer?”

That is still the cry of the soul, isn’t it? “How much longer?”

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Romans 8:18, “I do not consider our present sufferings worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed to us.”

It is in the context of that future glory that we will know God even as we are presently known.

While the Corinthians made really great mirrors, a reflection isn’t the same as the real thing. Kind of like our photographs. But an image of someone in a photo can never replace being with them in person.

When I was in Spain, I loved the letters, but I wanted more than letters! I wanted to be with Kristy in person.

But that is how we will experience Jesus. In person!

Psalm 16:11, “In your presence is the fullness of joy!” [GLORY]

Essential #4: CELEBRATE YOM HASHOAH

Say what? Let me explain.

Each spring in Israel, the nation observes a day of memorial called Yom HaShoah. In English, it is called Holocaust Remembrance Day, a commemoration of the genocidal execution of Jews under Nazi Germany during the second world war.

Have you ever wondered what Holocaust means?

The Hebrew noun olah (עֹלָה) occurs 289 times in the Old Testament. It usually is translated as a “burnt offering,” something which is consumed with fire and goes up in smoke.

In the Greek translation of the original Hebrew Old Testament (Septuagint), the word olah is translated with the Greek word ὁλόκαυστος (holókaustos), from hólos (“whole”) + kaustós, (“burnt”). We get the word “caustic” from kaustos.

You see, Christians celebrate Yom HaShoah, too. Not by focusing on the 20th-century holocaust, but by focusing on the 1st-century holocaust, when Jesus was executed in our place upon a cross.

As the incinerating fire of judgment fell upon the Savior, our sins went up in smoke. No longer recognizable. They cease to exist.

Some of us really, really need to remember and believe this.

I know that I do. It is the only way that I will survive MY BROKENNESS.

The holocaust of the cross means that you and I are free to be honest and real about our need for mercy.

The holocaust of the cross means that you and I are free to be honest and real about our need for mercy.

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In his book, Irresistible Faith, my friend Scott Sauls writes, “Let’s remember this for ourselves and also for those God places in front of us, [that] neither a foul mouth in front of the children, nor any amount of self-loathing, nor an addiction to heroin, nor self-destructive decision making (whether over-eating, over-drinking, over-shopping nor porn nor anger nor… anything) is any match for the kindness and mercy of Christ.”

Do you believe that? Will you believe it?

When we remember the implications of the cross, we experience the great triad of verse 13:

  • Faith → trusting in the finished work of Jesus
  • Hope → anchoring our souls to the finished work of Jesus
  • Love → resting our lives in the finished work of Jesus -- the love of God for us

They say that April showers bring May flowers. If that is the case, get ready for some serious blooms! This year it seems like it hasn’t stopped raining, which is an apt metaphor for some of our lives. Living in the “now” is like the rains of spring. But eventually, they really will produce sunny skies and flowered fields. 

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