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Sanctified Christology

A Theological & Functional Study of the Whole of Jesus
 

Christology Study                                                                                             printer-friendly pdf version

 

  Chapter 10             

Eschatology:

as Doctrine or Truth, as Event or Relationship

 

 

 

Subsections:

 

Eschatology as Truth


Eschatology as Relationship


Functional Implications

Introduction
Chap. 1
Chap. 2
Chap. 3
Chap. 4
Chap. 5

Chap. 6
Chap. 7
Chap. 8
Chap. 9
Chap.11

Table of Contents

Scripture Index

 

The whole of Jesus in sanctified Christology embodied the triune God and the whole of Godís thematic relational action in response to the human relational condition "to be apart" from Godís whole. Jesus ultimately fulfilled Godís response by embodying the Truth in vulnerable disclosure of Godís action only for relationship with the Father to be whole together as Godís family. Furthermore, Jesusí relational work did not cease with the resurrection. The whole of Jesus in sanctified Christology continues beyond his ascension. And essentially, the first words Jesus said to Peter and the last words he told him before his ascension point us to the last things ahead: ĎFollow me" (Jn 21:22) in the relational progression to the Father.

The last things to come (eschatology) critically involve the relational conclusion of discipleship, in which the authentic following of Jesus in ongoing relational progression to the Father constitutes eschatology in the trinitarian relational context and process. This dynamic, which Jesus continues to engage post-ascension, both calls into question our view of eschatology as doctrine or truth and challenges our understanding of the last things as event or relationship. This chapter seeks to bring clarity to and the necessity of eschatology only as truth for relationship in ultimate conclusion, and thus also to provide deeper understanding of what is both "now" and "not yet." This will involve rooting eschatology in complete sanctified Christology to integrate with the full soteriology and the ecclesiology of the whole by the integral pneumatology in coherence with the whole of Godís thematic relational action in response to the human conditionóthe last chapter of salvation history in Godís story.
 

Eschatology as Truth

During the week of equalization and passion, Jesus made intimate disclosures to his disciples. When he responded to Thomas for a deeper epistemology by disclosing that he embodied Truth, this critical interaction was initiated by his further intimate involvement with his disciplesí troubled hearts (Jn 14:1-7). In this vulnerable moment precipitating Thomasí question, he disclosed where he was going and that they knew the way. That is, they would know the way if they knew the Truth, which they made evident they did not deeply know by the relational epistemic process (14:9). As the Truth, Jesus only disclosed the Father to them for relationship together as his family. In these vulnerable moments on the eve of the cross, Jesus intimately responded to their troubled hearts by providing them the basis to be able ongoingly to trust God and him, to count on him in his absence (14:1). Certainly, the disciples were highly concerned about what was going to happen to them as a group and their messianic hopes for Israel (Acts 1:6). What followed helps us understand the quantitative lens used by the disciples limiting their focus and the qualitative perceptual-interpretive framework necessary for clarity of the last things ahead.

The basis to trust him that Jesus provided for them began: first, by disclosing a metaphor of his Fatherís house (oikia) with many rooms (mone, a habitation, from meno), where Jesus is going to prepare a place for them (which overlaps with mone in a subsequent disclosure, Jn 14:23); then Jesus addresses any uncertainty about their future status by asserting definitively that "if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (Jn 14:2-3). The deep relational message, in other words, that his disciples needed to receive in their troubled hearts is: This Jesus in post-ascension is not only a person in the past tense but even more importantly is also actively involved in the present. This was not to inform them about events to come but to continue building their relationship together as family (cf. Rev 21:22).

After disclosing this initial basis to trust him for the last things to come, he implied that this should not be such a mystery and relationally ambiguous to them because they know the way to where heís going (14:4). What Thomas and Philip said in response to Jesus (14:5,8) made evident where the disciples were focused: knowledge of the place where Jesus was going and visual verification of the Father. This quantitative lensówhich, on the one hand, is somewhat reasonable, while, on the other, overly depended on reason from knowledge and sight, thus obscuring the qualitativeólimited their perception of Jesusí person and their interpretation of his significance. The whole of Jesus embodied the Truth to disclose the whole of God only for relationship together. Thus, the Truth vulnerably discloses the whole of God only in a relational context and process, and the Truth of the Word intimately communicated the whole of God only with relational language. That is, what Jesus, the embodied Truth and Word, disclosesóin the significance of his person presented, with the quality of his communication, and by the depth of relationship he engagedómust be understood as relational terminology and speech in his relational context and process. And as the Truth, everything Jesus said about the last things to come is only relational language. Eschatology is the relational language of the Truth, who is both the agent and action of eschatology; this is the perceptual-interpretive framework necessary for eschatological clarity. In other words, with Jesusí agency of the last things, eschatology must be perceived, received and responded to by "listeners" (readers) in his relational language intended for his relational context and process.

Jesusí intended purpose for his disclosures of eschatology as truth is not about merely cognitive information, and thus mere doctrine. His primary intention with his relational language for eschatology is to communicate only about relationship together to be Godís whole and, conjointly, to live and make whole in the remaining days to this relational conclusion of the last thingsóthe relational conclusion of which the Truth is guarantor. Thus, his metaphor about the Fatherís house with many rooms is not about a place per se; and his assertion that they have seen the Father is not about another embodied person. Where he is going is back to the Father in intimate dwelling together as family (cf. Jn 17:5), in which his authentic followers will also participate in intimate dwelling together "to be with me" as family. Furthermore, the Father is not in a non-relational transcendent state who needs to have visual verification of his existence, presence and involvement in order to be trusted. The Fatherís vulnerable presence and intimate involvement has been active all along, making a strategic shift in the embodied Truth of the Word fully exegeting the Father (Jn 1:18) for relationship together, which he reinforced at his Sonís baptism and transfigurationómost notably with the relational imperative to "Listen to my Son." Therefore, his disciples have not only directly perceived (horao) the Father but also have come to know him (ginosko, 14:7), if they have indeed experienced (ginosko) Jesus in relationship together in the trinitarian relational context of family by the trinitarian relational process of family love. Because Jesus constitutes them in the relational context and process of the Trinity, his followers know the relational way to where he is going to his Father for complete communion in relationship together as the whole of Godís family.

They know the Father and the way to the Father to experience this ultimate relational conclusion, as long as they follow the whole of the Truth by ongoing relational involvement in his relational context and process. If they only follow quantitative parts of the Truth such as his teachings, principles and example, then they will focus on quantitative things like "place" and visual verification and lose understanding of the relational significance of his whole person, and thus lack eschatological clarity. The early disciplesí quantitative lens of the Truth was insufficient to grasp eschatology and incompatible to experience the relational significance of the last things.

Eschatology is the dynamic unfolding of discipleship and the ultimate outworking of following the whole of the Truth in the relational progression to the Father for its consummate relational conclusion in Godís family. The key to eschatology is the whole of Jesus who continues to constitute the relational progression to the Father by "going back to the Father" in post-ascension (Jn 16:5,10,17,28; 7:23; 14:28)óthe functional key for grasping the last things and the relational key to experience its relational significance. These functional and relational keys of post-ascension Jesus are present and operational for his followers through his relational replacement.

In further response to their hearts, Jesus provided his followers with the main basis for their ongoing relational involvement in the trinitarian relational context and process for the last things ahead: the Spirit of truth, notably as eschatological truth, who is the embodied Truthís relational replacement to complete Godís family in relational progression to its eschatological relational conclusion. The Spirit of truth further discloses that the whole of Jesus continues beyond ascension to fulfill the Truth for relationship together as Godís family (Jn 16:12-15)óto be with him together with his Father, just as he promised (14:3) and as he ongoingly intercedes on behalf of his followers for the last things (17:24). The Spirit of truth is who replaces what was replaced as the embodied Truth. Conjointly, the Spiritís person fulfills this function as the eschatological truth by also further constituting Jesusí followers in the relational progression of the Truthís post-ascension action in the things to comeómost notably in the trinitarian relational process of family love by the Father and the Son making their dwelling (mone) with them even before the last things (14:23, as prelude to 14:2). As the relational replacement for the embodied Truth, the Spirit as the eschatological truth "will guide you into all truth" (16:13), that is, also as the functional, relational, experiential and definitive truths (discussed in the previous chapter), conjoined with the Truthís post-ascension action with the Father. Thus, the Spirit of truth is crucial for what his followers together will experience in the last things to come.

Even in the post-resurrection period just prior to Jesusí ascension, his disciples focused on quantitative matters for the time ahead over the qualitative significance of relationship together. They asked him if he was going to restore the kingdom to Israel "at this time" (chronos, Acts 1:6). In response, Jesus essentially reiterated what he had disclosed to them earlier in his Olivet discourse on eschatology: No one knows those quantitative details except the Father, who establishes them by his role and function in the Trinity (Acts 1:7, Mt 24:36). More importantly, Jesusí response, "It is not for you to know the times," implies an imperative not to frame eschatology in quantitative time (chronos), which is a reductionist tendency to perceive and define the last things in quantitative terms; that is, to define eschatology by when the last things happen, what things will happen, and in what sequence these events will occur. Eschatology certainly includes chronos but its significance neither involves chronos nor ends with it, thus must not be framed within chronos.

Rather Jesus continues to call them with the relational imperative to follow him in the relational progression to embrace the qualitative significance of the last things in cooperative reciprocal relationship with the Spirit as the experiential truth, who will further constitute them in the eschatological truth of the relational progression to the Father and the Son to come. These are the qualitative and relational foci which provide the primary significance of eschatology. The Spirit of truth in conjoint function with the Truth in post-ascension constitute the qualitative and relational significance of eschatology; and they are necessary to be ongoingly involved with for eschatological clarity in the unfolding, completing and concluding of the whole of Godís family in Godís eschatological plan and final thematic action in response to the human condition to be whole. Therefore, after Jesusí introductory discourse on eschatology, eschatology functionally emerges with the Spirit of truth and involves the relational process of the Spiritís reciprocating movement (erchomai, Jn 16:13) to the Son to come for only this eschatological relational conclusionóemerging not as mere doctrine or event.

When Jesus shifted their focus of eschatology from quantitative information and cognitive knowledge, he called (and calls) his followers to embrace eschatology in the truth, not in mere doctrine, and to respond to eschatology as the truth for relationship, not for mere event. Truth, as who was embodied, as who replaces, as who continues in post-ascension, is only for relationship together within the context of history climaxing in the eschatological relational conclusion of Godís big picture plan and response to the human relational condition "to be apart" from Godís whole from the beginning of creation. Truth and eschatology converge in the whole of Godís thematic action (Godís story) and are irreducibly and inseparably integrated into the relational context and process of the triune Godís story; see the Apocalypse of Johnís introduction of this trinitarian disclosure for the last things (Rev 1:1,5b-6).

It is this relational context and process in which Jesus constituted his followers together, his church as family in likeness of the Trinity. His church lives together whole within the Trinityís story, and together must (dei) by its nature see its situations and circumstances in this relational context and must define and determine its function by this relational process. They will be tested in this since Jesus told them of being rejected/persecuted because of belonging to his family and not to the world (Jn 15:18-21, Mt 24:9-14, Rev 2:10), and of having distress in this world (Jn 16:33, Mt 24:21-22). Nevertheless, they must define themselves by who, what and how they are together in his relational context, not defined by those situations and circumstances, and thus must continue by this relational process to determine their function together to live whole and make whole (Mt 24:13-14).

Their wholeness and well-being is the peace Jesus constitutes them in together as the whole of Godís family, in which his Spirit will further constitute and deepen them to be and live Godís whole and make Godís whole for the last things and the Son to return (Jn 14:27; 16:33, cf. Rom 8:15-17,35). It is imperative for the church to work cooperatively with the Spirit as the eschatological truth, without whom the church struggles to fulfill its place, purpose and function beyond itself locally to the whole of Godís family in the eschatological big picture. Thus, ecclesiology of the whole is functionally integrated with this relational dynamic of eschatology, just as the Truth in post-ascension constituted the church in Philadelphia (Rev 3:7-12). For his church to be anything less and to practice any substitute is reductionism; and perhaps the greatest test his church faces in these days is the sin of reductionism and its counter-relational workóas Jesusí post-ascension discourse on ecclesiology to be whole suggests.

Indeed, eschatology cannot be reduced to doctrine and event but is significant only as the truth for relationship together to be, to live and to make the whole of Godís family. We need to discuss further this relationship in the last things ahead.
 

Eschatology as Relationship

When Jesus formalized the new covenant relationship at his last Passover meal, this highlighted the intimate communion they shared in relationship together. While Jesus said he would not partake of this meal again until they share it together in my Fatherís kingdom-family, they were to continue to practice this communion (1 Cor 11:24-25). Yet, this ritual was neither a memorial to the past nor merely a symbol of hope for the future. This ecclesial act was (and is) to highlight the present, that is, to highlight their present intimate communion in relationship together and ongoing participation in his post-ascension lifeóparticipating not as orphans in an orphanage of a relationship past, but only in the present experiential truth of intimate relationship together as his family, which is engaged in the relational progression to its consummate relational communion. This distinction between the past and the present is crucial for his churchís ongoing relational significance. Likewise, to jump from the past to the future opens a critical gap which only the present can fulfill, since the future emerges from the present of his churchís functional significance in relationship together.

This was illustrated initially by the disciplesí difficulty in maintaining relationship together in the present when Jesus went to the cross. The line between the present and past was blurred with the present fading into the past; as the past became imminent, its connection to the future left a huge gap for them. This happened to them because they had let go of (aphiemi) relationship together in the present: "You leave me alone" (Jn 16:32). They left Jesus relationally in the present and "scattered each to oneís own," despite their claim to "believe that you came from God" (Jn 16:30)óimplying their belief that Jesus was "going back to the Father" (16:28) to fulfill what he said about their relationship together as family. Their actions further demonstrated both the inadequacy of believing the cognitive knowledge of eschatology as mere doctrine, not as the truth, and the insufficiency of merely understanding information about eschatology as event, not as relationship. Communion in relationship together is the experiential truth of the present reality, which is rooted in the historical past but never past tense and which is always growing to the certainty of the future but not reduced to the future. And the certainty of the future is a function of relationship based on the validity (faithfulness) of the post-ascension Truth in the present, who constitutes the future of relationship together as family.

While many thought Jesusí return was imminent, Jesus never disclosed that but made it an imperative not to reduce their focus to when (chronos). Jesus doesnít want his followers focused on the future, but to live in the present progressing to the future. This is a relational imperative to ongoingly be involved in the relational progression together as family to this relational conclusion and reunification. Their communion together is not a "communion in waiting" but the transformed communion together of Godís family vulnerably involved in the qualitatively distinguished relational function both to live whole in the new relational order and to make whole the human condition in the existing relational order. This definitive relational progression will be consummated at the eschatological relational conclusion of Godís thematic action. Thus, for church practice to be whole in relationship together, his church cannot be passive and isolationist, nor be self-autonomous and self-determined in the days unfolding, and needs to be functionally compatible and congruent with the relational progression of eschatology as relationship, not event.

This relationship in the last things is a reciprocal relationship. God does not do all the relational work nor are we responsible to make things happen. Eschatology as relationship does not suggest that events will not happen. Certain last things will definitely happen for which the whole of God will account. The details of those things, however, are secondary to the person(s) we are accountable for in relationship together and who needs to define and determine our function in the days unfolding.

In further eschatological discourse on the Mount of Olives (Mt 24:4-25:46, known as the Olivet discourse), Jesus identified a key relational characteristic in the end (telos) days: "Because of the increase of lawlessness [anomia], the love of most will grow cold" (Mt 24:12). Anomia is not merely about the absence of the rule of law. Godís law is Godís desires and terms for relationship together, not a mere code of behavior. Agape love is not about what to do (e.g. sacrifice) but about how to be involved with other persons in relationship together. Anomia (even today as postmodern assumptions) and agape are incongruent, and thus are incompatible to function in relationship together. That is, when Godís desires for relationship together to be whole are not responded to on Godís terms, relationships become self-autonomous and self-determined, thus embedded in self-interest (anomia), rather than based on involvement with each other in relationships together by family love (agape). Anomia, commonly masked by the epistemological illusion of individualism, is involved in counter-relational work, which by its nature reduces qualitative involvement with other persons (agape) in relationship togetheródespite the performance of ontological simulations such as doing things with others in shared space, time and activity. In other words, doing relationship on our own terms is essentially in practice a form of anomia, in which agape involvement in relationship together grows distant and cold. Such relationships at best are sustained only by the ontological simulations and epistemological illusions of reductionism.

In contrast to those whose love has grown cold, there are those who continue to dwell under (hypomeno) the primacy of relationship together to be whole as Godís familyówhat Jesus saves them to (sozo, Mt 24:13). In their discipleship "call to be whole" and conjoint commission "sent to be whole," they embody the gospel of Godís kingdom-family to live whole ("as a witness," martyrion) and to make whole ("proclaim," kerysso) "all nations" without distinctions and stratified relationships in Godís family (24:14, cf. Jn 17:21-23). This is his church living in relationship together as family to be whole in likeness of the Trinity, who are vulnerably involved in the relational progression with the functional significance of the gospel and what Jesus saves them to for the purpose to make whole Godís family in the days to the telos (cf. Jn17:18).

Since only the Father knows the schedule of the telos (Mt 24:36), Jesusí eschatological discourse was not about locating his followersí position in a grand narrative plan. This was only about participating in the whole of Godís life and final thematic action, the heart of which was always relationshipóongoing relationship together progressing to consummate relational conclusion in their ultimate relational communion. Therefore, after disclosing further aspects of the last things, the main functional and relational practice Jesus made imperative for the present progressing to this future was: "keep watch" (Mt 24:42,43; 25:13, Mk 13:34,35,37, cf. Lk 12:37). The significance of "keep watch" (gregoreuo, to watch, refrain from sleep) is not easily understood in his discourse since it is set within three parables about alertly waiting for the owner of the house (Mk 13:34-36), also for the Son of man (Mt 24:43-44) and the bridegroom (Mt 25:1-13). Such a focused wait would involve being ready for this personís future return or suffering the consequences, namely some judgment. Yet Jesus did not want his followers focused on the future waiting for his return (cf. Acts 1:7-8); this was not the intent of his present imperative to "keep watch."

The functional significance of gregoreuo emerged two days after his Olivet discourse when his disciples returned with Jesus to the Mount of Olives at Gethsemane. This narrative illustrates a paradigm for function in the eschatological days at hand. In this most vulnerable moment for Jesus, he did not suggest to Peter, James and John, or request of them, but made intimately necessary for them: "Stay here and keep watch with me" (Mt 26:38). This was not about merely keeping awake to observe what was to happen, which these disciples demonstrated an inadequacy to do even that. The primary issue was not about what his followers do in mere behavior but only about the primacy of relationship together. "Stay here" (meno, to remain, dwell), while Jesus went over there to pray, was not a spatial matter. Meno, as Jesus made definitive moments earlier in the metaphor of the vine and branches (Jn 15:5-8), was only about the function of relationship together in distinct intimate involvement. Thus, with meno Jesus made necessary for them: "remain in our relationship and dwell in it ongoingly together, and despite our spatial separation keep your intimate involvement with me as I go to be with my Father."

Meno conjoins with gregoreuo for a paradigm providing the functional significance for his followers to "keep watch" as the Son (bridegroom, household owner) in post-ascension is with the Father to bring their family to ultimate relational communion.

Gregoreuo is the present relational imperative of ongoing intimate relational involvement, which neither defines his churchís identity merely in waiting nor determines his churchís function as merely doing good deeds (as the churches in Ephesus, Sardis and Thyatira learned later in Jesusí post-ascension discourse). This is his church in the present who is relationally involved in reciprocal relationship with the whole of God to be whole in intimate communion as family in progression to their ultimate relational communion. This ultimate relational communion is eternal life together as Godís family (Mt 25:46, Jn 17:2). As Jesus told Nicodemus, this is a new creation in transformed relationship together as kingdom-family (Jn 3:5-7), which is a gift of grace of Godís family love (agape involvement, Jn 3:16, cf. Jn 1:12-13).). Yet, eternal life is not about a place in eternity for the individual (cf. a reductionist reading of Jn 14:2) but about only intimate involvement in relationship with the whole of God to know God and participate in Godís lifeóintimately knowing the Trinity in relationship together just as Jesus made definitive of eternal life (Jn 17:3). And intimately knowing the Trinity is not only for the relationship in the future but has already begun in intimate relationship together as family in the present, just as Jesus further constitutes in his formative family prayer (Jn 17:26, cf. 14:23).

Ongoing intimate relational involvement with the Trinity is the foremost dimension of the present relational imperative of gregoreuo. There is another overlapping dimension of relational involvement which Jesus disclosed in two other parables in his Olivet discourse (Mt 24:45-51; 25:14-30). These parables focus on being faithful servants essentially as they "keep watch" in these days. It is critical that this is not reduced merely to what we do in practicing stewardship and exercising spiritual gifts and other resources. The primary issue in these parables continues to be about relationship.

To be relationally involved with the whole of God and participate in Godís life means necessarily by its nature to be involved in Godís thematic action responding to the human condition (cf. Jesusí commission of his followers in congruence with his commission by the Father, Jn 17:18). This extends the relational involvement of Godís family to the human condition. In contrast to a church in waiting or merely observing, in provincial operation or reductionist practice, his church is relationally involved in reciprocal relationship with the whole of God to be whole together in triangulated involvement with the surrounding contexts of the world to make whole the human condition. As Jesus constituted in his formative family prayer, his church is both called to be whole in the trinitarian relational context of family and sent to be whole by the trinitarian relational process of family love. This conjoint function of call and commission is based on only ongoing relationship together, notably including the Spirit who further constitutes his church; his churchís function is not based on the extent of their service, no matter how faithful and well-respected, which those churches in Ephesus, Sardis and Thyatira in Jesusí post-ascension critique had reduced their practice to. This is the other overlapping dimension of gregoreuo in ongoing relational involvement which Jesus makes the present relational imperative for his followers together to be whole, to live whole and to make whole in the days to telos.

Jesus had anticipated the ongoing challenge to Godís whole from reductionism and its counter-relational work in its final days of chronos, and how "the love of most will grow cold," as he disclosed much earlier in two parables about judgment of those whole or not at the end of the age (Mt 13:24-30,37-43,47-50). He added another parable of judgment to close his Olivet discourse (Mt 25:31-46). This parable is directly interrelated to the four other parables in this discourse and thus coheres with the two overlapping dimensions of gregoreuo. The judgment is focused on the needy, the poor and the dispossessed and is made about those who responded to them or not. Yet the issue cannot be reduced merely to acts of service or not, which is how this tends to be interpreted or perceived (cf. Jn 12:8). As we discussed about the overlapping relational involvements of gregoreuo, this defines those who are involved in relationship with the whole of God to be whole together as family and conjointly who were involved with other persons in the human condition by family love to make whole for Godís family. This is about the relationally righteous (v.37a) who functioned true to their identity as Godís family (vv.34a,40), and thus who further embodied the whole of Godís thematic relational response to the human condition "to be apart" from Godís whole. These relationally righteous belonging to Godís family are the daughters and sons who relationally progressed to their ultimate relational communion to embrace their family inheritance (kleronomeo, vv.34b,46b): eternal life together in relational communion as the whole of Godís kingdom-familyóthe new creation now complete in the new Jerusalem, the eternal context pointed to in Rev 21-22, which needed no temple for holy communion together "because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple (naos a dwelling, 21:22) for direct ongoing intimate communion together.

What emerges about eschatology from the whole of Jesus in sanctified Christology needs to be understood as part of the definitive whole. Eschatology is not a doctrinal framework for mere events (however critical) but the relational framework of the trinitarian relational context and process necessary for the consummate progression of relationship together to be whole as Godís familyóthe relational and experiential truth of which are both "now" and "not yet." This necessarily integrates eschatology with the full soteriologyófunctionally notable in the present with what Jesus saves toóand the ecclesiology of the whole by the integral pneumatology in coherence with the whole of Godís thematic relational action to the human condition. In this relational framework, eschatology is the vital relational language of the Truth and must by this nature be perceived, received and responded to in its relational context and process. Therefore, as the truth and as relationship, eschatology is less about the last things and more about the first things. That is, the first things involves some chronology, given "the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world" (Mt 25:34), which was signified in Godís initial action during creation (Gen 2:18) forming the basis for the whole of Godís thematic action in response to the human condition. Yet, more importantly involved in the relational significance of this, the first things is the function of: the preeminent priority of the whole of the truth for only the primacy of relationship together to be wholeóGodís whole only on Godís terms, nothing less and no substitutes.
 

Functional Implication

This qualitative relational involvement together to be whole as family in likeness of the Trinity, this is the heart of Godís desires and action, who made us in the image of the heart of God. This is only what the Father seeks from us to have intimate communion together in the crowning relational process of worship (Jn 4:23). This is only what the Son in post-ascension ongoingly searches for in all church practice (Rev 2:23b). His primary priority in these days to the end is not about truth as doctrine and maintaining doctrinal purity, nor about serving and faithfully enduring to the endójust as he critiqued those churches in practice in his post-ascension discourse for churches to be whole. In these days present not future, he calls churches to change: to "the things you did at first"ó"your first love" (Rev 2:4-5); because "I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God" (Rev 3:2); so "Here I am. I stand at your door and knock," wanting to have intimate communion in relationship together (Rev 3:20).

Just as he called these churches for the last things and as the last pre-ascension words he told Peter, he calls us in the present to the only functional and relational significance our practice has to the future: "Follow me" in ongoing intimate relationship together for the relational progression to the Father in eternal life communion as his family. He made this definitive to Peter during the interaction with the rich young man on eternal life and the discipleship involved to it, in which Peter asserted the disciples "have left everything to follow you. What then will there be for us?" (Mt 19:27-29). Jesusí promise is not a reward for sacrifice but is only about the relational response to be experienced with him in relationship together for the last things, which is partly fulfilled "now the present age" (par. Mk 10:30).

This qualitative distinction of "Follow me" is the only functional implication that emerges from Jesusí discourse on eschatologyóhis relational language of the last things, who must be "listened to" and responded to in his relational context and process. And this is what he presently holds us accountable for by the trinitarian relational process of family love, in view of the truth that the whole of Jesus in sanctified Christology continues in post-ascension conjointly with his relational replacement who is also present and intimately involved in cooperative relational work with us for the consummate communion of relationship together as familyówith the Fatherís words still resounding "Listen to my Son!"

 

 

 

©2008 T. Dave Matsuo, Ph.D.

 

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