Thursday, October 3, 2013

Here's the Thing: The World is Not our Home

   – on the Passing of Chuck Smith, Pastor, Calvary Chapel

This article may be surprising to you, reader, if you have followed me here for any length of time.  While I do NOT tolerate church or pastor bashing, it is apparent that Pastor Chuck Smith and I have marked differences in our theologies. 
                   And that’s okay.

His views on women in ministry and leadership are directly opposed to mine; but it’s okay.  Because we are members of the same body, grafted-in kids of the same family, followers and worshipers of the One, True God and His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  And were it not for Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel movement-turned-denomination, I might not have been a Christ follower at all.  Though my conversion did not occur in one of their sanctuaries, Calvary Chapel Albuquerque was the church I crawled into for the year preceding; and Calvary Chapel Brighton was the church in which my faith began to flourish following and at which I was baptized.
So I guess that makes Pastor Chuck Smith my great-great-great- *(much like the Jewish genealogies, there are certain, necessary gaps here)* great, spiritual grandfather.  I wonder how many millions of other believers can say something like that as well.  So, regardless of our theological affiliations, we do well to honor this man who impacted so many lives for the Kingdom of God.        

Yet, two things concern me.  First, that the Christians who hold similar theological views as mine will use this as an opportunity to bash the pastor, his theology, or his following. 

     God, let us be emissaries of Your peace and comfort, remembering our common core:
                                    The blood of Jesus Christ.

Second, that today and in the days that follow, as is so often the case when a believer dies, we will hear a litany of “this world wasn’t his home.”  Okay, I get that a believer’s ultimate destination is the NEW Heaven and NEW Earth; but for 86 years, this world was Pastor Smith’s home.  He grew up here, fell in love here, married here; he reared children, and raised up a generation of believers, and he no doubt toiled and laughed and loved on this earth.  This earth created by Our Beloved Maker for that express purpose: so that we may have a home. 
God, in His sovereignty, saw it fit to create this world and still sees fit to populate and sustain it.  So please, though a believer’s destination in the Age to Come is the NEW Heaven and NEW Earth, let us not be flippant about the earth we have been given charge of now.  Let us not so look for the outcome that we miss the beauty in our journey here.  Let us remember that though we are eventually meant for an eternity in God’s presence, we are before that, residents of this earth which God in His wisdom and love created for us.

Though I did not know if I will meet Pastor Smith in the New Heaven, for the Bible is silent on the relationships of humanity once we are there ensconced, I am thankful for his and his family’s dedication to the gospel, and to advancing the Kingdom of God.  I am thankful for his obedience in sparking a movement in California in the 70’s, that reached all the way to a small-town girl in the 2000’s, who thus grew in love with the Lord so that she is decades later free to attend Seminary in Colorado.   

May our Father, the God of all Comfort and Peace, be with Pastor Smith’s loved ones through even this.  Go in peace, brother.

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