“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision; for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3:14)
What is at stake in these three key words that apply to Jesus being the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 14:6)? Why write a book about the high standards of God as we approach the beginning stages of the end-times?
The part of the make-believe world of movie acting that is not make-believe is the bond of friendship and camaraderie that is often formed within the acting troop. The relationships between the fictional characters within the story and the fictional world the actors are playing-out in the movie…are oftentimes better than the actor’s real lives.
The invention of DVD movies that can be replayed in our television sets has allowed for something called Special Features to be included that contain interviews with the actors and the movie directors.
Toward the end of shooting on set, actors in recent movies like Pride and Prejudice (2005), or the movie trilogy The Lord of the Rings (2003), for example, often say that they enjoyed the friendships they formed while playing their fictional roles so much that they wish their movie make-believe world would continue indefinitely.
This secular window into our human nature provides a glimpse into something important about us.
Well-written fictional characters, acted out within movie-scripts having high ideals, with capable, talented, and caring movie-directors, and supportive fellow actors, creates a short-lived, idyllic yet challenging and fulfilling environment that we would popularly call “a small slice of heaven on earth.”
But this idea runs much deeper. Throughout the filming of a great movie, in memorizing their lines, studying their characters, and acting their parts, the actors must think about and internalize the issues of the story composed within the artistic inspiration of the storywriter.
This is also what occurs in a journey of faith following Jesus Christ…we learn the deep and fundamental issues of truth…while living a walk of faith.
Paul can write his New Testament letters by living the life Jesus composed for him as the missionary evangelist to the first-century Greco-Roman world.
What is different in our subordination of self in following the lead of Jesus the Great Director in our personal journeys of faith, and in the larger grand story of human redemptive history, is that it does not all come to an end with a “wrap” of the filming production and the actors finally going their separate ways. The bonds of friendship we form with God, and with other believers, last for eternity in a new heavenly world without time.
The improved character traits we purchase through a journey of faith actually take shape and become part of ourselves, not just in the form of the wisdom and knowledge that actors take with them after studying a particular character and learning their lines in order to act out that character in a fictional movie.
The journey of faith, being led into all truth by the Holy Spirit according to Ephesians 2:10, results in us becoming the enhanced character of the story, rather than abandoning our movie-acting roles at the end of film shooting to return to our otherwise normal lives. Peter speaking to the Sanhedrin, or Paul addressing Festus, are not fictional roles…they are real, eternally beneficial character building performances.
An accomplished actor performs “in-the-moment” using their natural personalities and emotions, but empty of their true selves in favor of inhabiting and possessing the fictional character portion of the stage play or movie they are in. Great actors lose themselves in their character portrayal to the point that they temporarily suspend all sense of nervousness, stage-fright, and self-awareness. It is being empty of self, yet utilizing our own personality traits and emotions that create a memorable performance in terms of facial expressions, voice modulation, body motions, and interactions with the other actors.
But at the close of each day of shooting on the set, actors revert back to their normal selves. Not so with Spirit-led Christians engaged in a God-composed walk of faith.
Partnership with the Holy Spirit…producing beneficial character growth…becomes permanently ours…becomes part of us. This is what God hopes and longs for…that we will become who and what He created us to be, living and acting voluntarily at a high moral level that He can relate to, enjoy, and be comfortable with forever, time without end.
Isn’t this a similar pattern to what we long for in our relationships with our own children and grandchildren?
The biblical journey of faith is the real performance that has lasting benefits and consequences beyond our current imaginations. Passing from death into eternal life is the raising of the curtain for the beginning of the actual stage-performance.
This current rehearsal preparation to enter into a new world where time does not exist, fully trained and familiar with our true intended character roles “in-Christ” according to the script composed by the great Playwright God, elevates the process of becoming sons and daughters of God to the level of the High Standards of God for End-Times Christians.
The Bible does not tell us what heaven will be like. Words written in black letters on the white pages of a book could not adequately describe the marvels of heaven. But judging by the preview of this current physical earth that God created, and our own incredible motor skills, five senses, and intellectual curiosity, it is a safe, educated guess that heaven is likewise filled with a myriad of natural wonders, interesting and challenging activities, breath-taking places to visit, and fascinating people and heavenly creatures to meet.
God created us in His image. God created us with the capacity to be able to appreciate and enjoy an environment where friendship and love can exist for an eternity. Jesus Christ is the great Screenwriter of Life for all time and the Master Director of the ultimate movie-set. We would all like to spend each and every day of eternity being an integral, contributing, and valued member of His cast.
Lucifer isolated himself from God through his rebellion. Lucifer’s malicious and wicked intent is to draw man away from God into isolation as well. Sin tragically separates us from God and from each other. What is at stake in this contest as to who controls the thrones of our hearts, is the fundamental meaning and purpose behind the existence of life.
The bond of friendship and love is one of the most satisfying things in existence.
When the angels in heaven announced the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, they said “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Lk. 2:14). Jesus said: “I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10).
As Spirit-born Christians, we must enter into this living journey of faith that promotes a friendship with God and selfless camaraderie with other believers, that will surpass anything we might ask or think (Eph. 3:20) in this life. And we must try, through the Holy Spirit inspired means of loving persuasion and the evidence of our own transformed lives, to bring in as many other people into this eternal joy and happiness as possible. This is a part of the divine motivation behind the high standards of God for end-times Christians.
There is an old saying: “If you aim for nothing, you are sure to hit it.”
The contemporary Christian church in the developed countries needs to refocus on the simplicity and purity of Christ, the cross, and the power of the resurrected life. We need leaders who will point people toward Christ, and a genuine, biblical walk of faith, so that the church can achieve the high standards that God intends for individuals and the body of Christ as a whole.
If as Christians we lower our spiritual vision to the horizontal level of worldly acceptance and expectations instead of the cross and the narrow gate (Mt. 7:13-14), we aim at nothing and are guaranteed to hit it.
With God’s leading, when we do finally discover the individual narrow way for us, establish our spiritual footing, and find our place of service in God’s grand plan, God will say to us: “I always loved you and meant the very best for you. Thank you for trusting me enough to help you. I enjoyed the time I spent with you and am looking forward to knowing you throughout eternity.”
We were created with the potential for a walk of faith with God. These are The High Standards of God in the End-Times for individual Christians and for His church as a whole. God is the only capable author and director of this process.