I really like the idea/purpose/meaning behind observing the Sabbath and after reading/hearing Marva Dawn speak on the practice Christina and I have decided we want to commit to doing this ancient practice for many reasons, not least of which being it’s a good way to unplug from the ways of the empire and think about/do more important things, like resting, spending time with others and things like that.
Yesterday I read a wee bit more of Tom Wrights, Evil and the Justice of God. Here are some things that stuck out to me:
1) The overall sort of theme that Creation is good and not evil and worth redeeming (worth it to the Creator who seems to have much invested in His creation, at least enough that He would die for it) as opposed to being destroyed is a Biblical theme that gives me much hope. Many (Christian) folk believe that the world is wicked and evil and will one day be destroyed by God, the same God, no less, who created it all in the first place. However, when you zoom out a bit and try to take a look at the broader narrative of scripture (and God’s action in the history of the universe in general) I think you will see that it’s hard to reconcile this idea of God destroying and starting over with the fact that God died to save Creation. That would seem to me at least, to render Christ’s death and resurrection as seemingly empty and meaningless. No?
2) The Gospel’s tell many stories, not the least of which is the story of “God’s long-term plan from Abraham through to the time of Jesus…finally [coming]to fruition,” (Wright, 83). However, the fruition of this plan is obviously not yet fully realized, yet it is as good as done.
3) Much of modern Evangelicalism seems to hold that God’s Kingdom is about holiness and, therefore, detachment from evil (I would generally not accept this latter premise). However, this doesn’t seem to take into account Jesus’ all too often fellowship with sinners and dirty folk. I wonder if Christian folk that feel the need to detach from ‘evil’ to be holy ever stop to suspect that evil people “could be, and were being [and are being], redeemed and rescued,” (Wright, 84). Along that line of thought, Wright touches on something that has always bothered me about Christian subculture, that being the great divide between what is clean/unclean, sacred/doomed, Christian/secular, good/evil. Not that there isn’t a distinction to be made, I think there is, it’s just that all to often I think that Christian’s draw that line between “us and them” as opposed to seeing that line running right down the middle of each and every person, Christian or not.
4) “What the Gospels offer is not a philosophical explanation of evil, what it is or why it’s there, nor a set of suggestions for how we might adjust our lifestyles so that evil will mysteriously disappear from the world, but the story of an event in which the living God deals with it,” (Wright, 93).
In respect to this quote I’ve always found hope in the finality of what occured in Christ’s death and resurrection. There was nothing to be done that was left undone. “It is finished.” All of Creation that was/is under the curse of sin and death has been rescued and redeemed and has ultimately been made right. Now this of course isn’t always obvious and although there is still much to be worked out, ultimately, what has been done has been done and God has accomplished victory over the powers of sin and death. Life now reigns. Abundant life, for all. I suppose this is, by and large, what leads me to believe that the Cross effects all of creation, not just a small percentage that are able to recognize and “accept”.
5) “The call of the gospel is for the church to implement the victory of God in the world through suffering love. The cross is not just an example to be followed; it is an achievement to be worked out, put into practice…What if, someone will ask, the people who now bear the solution become themselves part of the problem, as happened before [with Israel]? Yes, that is a problem and it must be addressed. The church is never more in danger than when it sees itself simply as the solution-bearer and forgets that every day it too must say, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner,” and allow that confession to work its way into genuine humility even as it stands boldly before the world and its crazy empires. In particular, it is a problem if and when a “Christian” empire seeks to impose its will dualistically on the world by labeling other parts of the world “evil” while seeing itself as the avenging army of God. That is more or less exactly what Jesus found in the Israel of his day. The cross was and remains a call to a different vocation, a new way of dealing with evil and ultimately a new vision of God,” (Wright, 98-99, emphasis mine).
I suppose that’s enough typing for now. In less than a month from now Christina and I will be in our new apartment smack dab in the middle of downtown Toronto. Needless to say we’re very excited about this change of scenery/pace. There’s much to do in the next few months in terms of moving, finding employment and getting ready for the beginning of my back-to-school adventure this September. Please, if you think of us, keep us in your prayers as we make these transitions.
Also, there are two places in particular that I’m excited about hanging out at on a regular basis once we move to the city. These are places that strike me as open to the Gospel yet more often than not, are cast by the way side by much of Christendom. So that is something else you could be praying about for us.