I have gone to or worked in schools, colleges and universities for over 45 years.
I have attended church for over 50 years.
I have been in a family for all my life.
These three great social institutions have sustained me, intellectually, spiritually, physically, socially, and financially. They have kept me on the straight and narrow path that is and breeds and leads to eternal life. They have been used by the Holy Spirit “to convict [me] concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because [I did] not believe in [Jesus] [as I should have]; and concerning righteousness, because [Jesus went] to the Father and [I] no longer see [Him, but need to]; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged [and I can now live in that judgment even in a more focused way]” John 16:8-11.
But they are not Jesus. They have done their abuse and hurt. They have fallen short of the ideal.
So I am not deceived. I believe only Jesus is the ultimate spiritual and social experience. Only Jesus will love and live forever. Institutions are like the heavens and earth….solid but not permanent… “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35.
So, as I watch the demise of these three social institutions, ultimately I guess I shouldn’t worry. Jesus will survive.
Look, Jesus warned, even the family he invented would not make the transfer to heaven…..
“For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” Matthew 22:30
So if marriage and family wont make the cut or the “great transition,” how can we anticipate anything else social will make it to the “other” side….
But then wait…….
“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” Revelation 21:2
It seems the church does make the transition. Not as a denomination, but as a social group presented as a bride, the church.
So, those of us who love the church can rejoice. But should we go back and close out our marriages and bolt the doors to our schools.
Should we stop worrying about bearing up these “difficult” social institutions. Lets instead start planning their funerals. Grab a shovel, lets dig the holes and say our goodbyes.
Like old cars, we know we need to keep using them running and need to make repairs to get them to last, but we should start looking to trade them in….
But for what? Some David Koresh self-crafted cultish communal church? Is that the implications.
So as we go shopping for something better than marriage/family and schools, I think some reference points for us are needed.
First, I have to go back to the first and most permanent social institution: the trinity. This is pre-human but not pre-life. NEVER HAS THE UNIVERSE BEEN A SINGULARITY OF A PERSON. GOD MADE ALL THINGS. AND GOD IS THREE IN ONE. LONE RANGER WOULD BE PROPHETS LIKE DAVID KORESH OR PRESIDENTS GONE ROGUE IS NOT THE WAY WE DO SOCIAL EXCHANGE.
Christianity is nothing but a belief in the social. It is a rejection of a ONENESS OF SINGULARITY FOR A ONENESS OF COMMUNITY, ANCHORED IN THE TRINITY.
THE TRINITY HAS BEEN AND WILL ALWAYS BE THE REFERENCE POINTS…
Godhead–three in one–have always shared their community. But at Galgary a new social paradigm was expressed–not new but made known as new. Jesus’ death was temporary and I don’t think divinity died but something happened. In that moment the trinity–the longest social institution ever–expanded to include us.
In short, WE WERE INVITED INTO THE CIRCLE OF THE TRINITY !!
The longest running social institution is the Trinity and the church is now part of that and has been commissioned to socialize others into that social experience.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
So, the church is now as permanent as the Trinity…. a pretty powerful thought.
Did I type that loud enough!!!
THIS IS AN AMAZING TEACHING WITH FAR REACHING IMPLICATIONS.
This is why the church makes the transition to heaven (Rev 20). They are even NOW incorporated into the trinity. Power is shared from the family above to the family on earth–the entire human family.
So, back to the family and school. What about them?
Well, this is where it gets tricky. Healthy families and schools have often been the most effective instrument for BEING and for MAKING THE CHURCH WORK.
So, biblical truth forces me to acknowledge the transitory nature of these two remaining institutions:marriage and school. But changes to these two institutions need to be done within a respect for the permanency evident in “the church” and the Trinity.
I see three functions for the church that the family and school have fostered that must be fostered into the future:
Service: This is the core attribute of the Godhead. They lead by serving. Families have been central means humans minister to its newest members. I fear we have few effective ways to continue such crucial roles.
Mutual Submission in a Spirit of Liberty: Marriage has done more to promote mutual submission and the need for liberty than any other institution (even though Satan has often made it a tool for neither of these two. Satan hates marriage as it was the first and primary tool for showing the trinity).
So if people want to get rid of marriage what do they have to replace it. I don’t see many viable options.
Sacrifice: The trinity opened up to take in another. The Father giving up His Son and the Son giving up his life for the church is probably most mirrored still in families. Families foster sacrifice, or at least the call for it, although few heed the call of family.
So, what do we do with families and schools. Should we abandon them?
A social institution is a social construct. I have reviewed their powerful role in a previous post on authority.
I am not naive….the bible is clear there are only two permanent social institutions–the trinity and the church.
But, family and school have done more to foster the truth of the Trinity and church so I can not now prepare for their death. There may come a time, but until something else fosters service, submission and sacrifice, I am going to go on bearing these in my life even as they have carried me.
Don’t count on my coming to any funeral just yet.