Back to the Future

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

The Key of David figures twice in the Bible: once in Isaiah 22, when Eliakim is told that God, “will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no-one can shut, and what he shuts no-one can open;” and then in Revelation 3 where the Church in Philadelphia is told “the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. … See, I have placed before you an open door that no-one can shut.”

Jerusalem and Philadelphia both faced uncertain futures. Each in their own way is challenged neither to be hopeless, nor hope in hopeless things, but put their trust in God.

Our own society has issues too about the future and hope. We oscillate between ostrich-like preoccupation with the present, and apocalyptic angst about the future. One of the reasons no political party seems to cut the mustard at the moment is that none of them seem really to be propounding a plausible and practical way through the mess.

Can the Christian Gospel once again give us back our future? Can a hope that is “steadfast and certain” not dissolve on the one hand into other-worldly post-mortem escape, or on the other into doctrine-driven tyranny, but lead us into a coming of God’s kingdom that is both good news now for all God’s children, and good news that in the end all shall be well?

I think it can. Committed faith in Christ matched with an equal commitment to live in a Christ-like way can release the resources of the past into the passion of the present, and unlock the door of the future. We see it happening all the time in very practical actions by people we know, and when the time is right we see it breaking through and changing society itself.

This, I sense, is such a time. Faith is returning rapidly to the public stage. Let’s make sure it speaks in a way that gives us all back our future.

Cross-posted from the Thinking Anglicans blog where this is today’s Just thinking article.

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