July 3rd, '18
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message by Kris Jackson
we...shall be caught up together with him in the air..." (1 Thessalonians 4:17)
"Caught up", there is a touch of ecstasy in those
two words. The Greek word implies being seized by force, snatched up or whisked
away. Theologians see the text as descriptive of the Rapture of the
church, or its catching away to meet Christ in the air in resurrection. I'm
looking at a secondary meaning today, for there are many Raptures in
life. Relationships tend to be more easily ruptured than raptured but that is
only because most don't know the ecstasy that is possible. The word Rapture means
an "ecstatic transport". It comes from the French word rapere and its
root, rape. It has a negative connotation, for a rape is a
forceful snatching away against one's will. But there is also a positive
connotation, for rapture is a voluntary forfeiture of self to the
goodwill of another and consequent snatching away. Do you remember the flying
dinosaurs called Raptors? They snatched their prey and transported them
to high crags. I'm painting pictures of kidnap and people-snatching, but in its
truest sense rapere is a glorious ecstatic seizing of property. It is
the knight in shining armor snatching the damsel in distress from the evil
villain's clutches before riding off enrapt into the sunset.
No doubt, such thrill awaits us in the literal Rapture
of the church. But we shortchange ourselves waiting for a future transport
not recognizing the catching away that can take place every day of our lives. Rapture
breaks men free from gravitational pull. Regarding faith, it snaps the
cords that hold us down. The traditional view that "the sky is the limit" has
been shattered by NASA engineers and astronauts. What starts in grace ends in
space. Every time a believer breaks free from a personal limitation there is
the bliss of breakthrough, a miniature rapture. Songster Chris Rice longed to
"dance from opposite sides of the universe", but conceded that "this gravity
keeps holding me down". Why not cut the cords? Anything is possible with God.
And there is a rapture of love. Songs have been
penned about it. The Shulamite cried, "Draw me away! We will run after you"
(Song of Solomon 1:4). She was "caught up", magnetized. The same can happen in
a person's work or mission. "He's obsessed", "She's in another world", "They're
all caught up in it", are ways we describe the focused artist, athlete, sage or
trailblazer of ideas. The Rapture carries the church to another world,
and so does the transport of a concentrated vision.
Are you rapt up in anything, GIFT
RAPT? It's the gift of the Holy Spirit that catches believers up into
higher dimensions in Christ. Paul wrote of his experience "caught up to the
third heaven" (2 Corinthians 12:2). His transport was literal. As was John's.
He said, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day" (Revelation 1:10); literally,
"I was caught up into the prophetic realm of the Spirit..." Daydreamers fancy
this paradise. True, there is a "third heaven" which is the abode of God but
there are also pinnacles of inspiration that men and women can reach even now.
Our text says, "...caught up together with him". With Him we can fly in the sky;
without Him it's only pie in the sky. Note also, we are caught up with Him "in
the air". Doubters and stuck in the mud minds see airy dreamers as air heads.
"There she goes with her head up in the clouds again". But which is healthier,
seeing oneself as an eagle or as a mole? If the journey is supposed to be as
much or more fun than the arrival then there is plenty of rapture in the
believing stage. Paul was caught up into paradise. The "Spirit of the Lord
caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more" (Acts 8:39). He was
found at Azotus which was something like forty miles from where he baptized the
Ethiopian eunuch! What I'm trying to say is, you can live in monotone or you
can move up to stereo. You can capture rapture! Get caught up in a dream. Get
caught up in the Spirit. And one day we will be caught up together to meet
Jesus in the air, and as the Thessalonians text closes, "so shall we ever be
with the Lord".