Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mission of God's People - Chapter 2 - Part 2.3

We have been looking at the people who know the story they are in - Chapter 2. See Part 2.1 and 2.2.

Wright takes us into the next part of this chapter through outlining the four major sections of the Biblical story line - Creation - Fall - Redemption in History and New Creation. The longest portion of course is Redemption in History. But what is important to understand about this story is not only God's plan of redemption, as the major theme of the total work of Scripture but where we came from and where we are going.

Grasping the two book ends of the Bible - Creation and New Creation - is key to understanding the story we are in. It's an old story that if you don't know where you're going you're not going to like where you wind up. But to this we can add that if you don't know where you have come from you will never get to where you are going. Wright tells us that "the Bible is not just about the solution to our sin problem and how to survive the day of judgment. It begins with creation and ends with the new creation. So our Biblical theology of mission need to take this great beginning and ending seriously."

Let's briefly look at the first two of the four parts today, some thoughts from Wright and some reflection on each section in today's post:

1. Creation -

Q - Why would knowing the beginning of the story be crucial?

Obviously, it tells us who we truly are. The challenge for us today is to remember who we are. Our culture tells us we're a cosmic accident, a freak of nature, just another species in the animal kingdom that evolved from a primordial stew. "Science" has rather adamantly suggested that we are nothing more than a compilation of chemicals that somehow developed a rational mind and so we can reject the "fairy tales" of religious ontology and the ideas that we're anything special. The debate over our nature didn't just start with Darwin however but predates Socrates. Anaxagoras, a 5th Century BC philosopher,  promoted a view similar to that of the Big Bang theory of today and held to a crude form of the theory of evolution. What this tells us is that thinking people have always been trying to underatand the story they are in, trying to discover meaning. But without our story beginning in a meaningful way we end up in a meaningless place. Wright shares that:
"The creation narrative provides two of the fundamental planks for the foundational Christians worldview, for it answers two of the most fundamental questions that all philosophies and religions answer in different ways. Where are we? And Who are we? That is to say, what is the universe in which we find ourselves? Where did it come from and why does it exist and is it even real? And, second, what does it mean to be human?...Does human life have any value, meaning and purpose?"
2. Fall  -

Q - how do you understand the effects of the Fall?

"Human disobedience and rebellion against the Creator God brought disasterous results (Genesis 3-11). Evil and sin weave their way into every aspect of God's creation and every dimension of human personhood and life on earth." Without understanding the nature of the Fall we will not pursue the redemption, restoration and reconcilation of all things - the reversal of the effects of the Fall through living the whole Gospel. Wright points out four effects of the Fall -
"Physically we are sibject to death and decay, living within a physical enviroment that is iself under the curse of God. Intellectually, we use our incredible power of rationality to explain, excuse and normalize our own evil. Socially, every human relationship is factured and disrupted - sexual, parental, familial, societal, ethnic, international - and the effect is consolidated horizontally through the permeation of all human cultutre, and vertucally by accumulation through the generations of history. And spiritually, we are alienated from God, rejecting his goodness and authority.

Before moving on to God's answer to the Fall, one observation need to be made about the nature of of what God created and the effects on Fall on it. In Genesis 1:31 the Bible says of his creation - "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day." Notice that God says it was very good and not perfect. If God had made creation perfect we would never have had the freedom to chose anything else, our story would be simply then meaningless. It is the freedom to chose that gives life meaning.

The efficacy of human choice however led to a wrong choice that wrecked much of the very good. of God's creation. Biblical history howver tells us that from the very beginning most chose poorly, which resultd in judgment, but there were a few who chose wisely - Enoch who walked faithfully with God (Genesis 5:24) and Noah who did everything just as God commanded (Genesis 6:22). What this tells us is that mankind had the ability to respond to God even after the Fall but chose not. The Fall did not create in mankind an inability to seek God but simply that the vast majority didn't in the choices we all make.

Instead, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6), which leads us into the Redemption. Now for living sent today.let's walk faithfully and obey God in everything  Give thanks with a grateful heart for what God has done for us today. Happy Thanksgiving.


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