Friday, November 13, 2009

All things new.

No matter who we are, no matter about the specifics of we believe, we all know that there is something horribly wrong with the world. To see this is the easiest thing in the world: just pick up a newspaper and read about what’s going on in your neighbourhood. To make matters worse, we all have this acute sense that not only is the world a mess, but that we too aren’t particularly perfect. It’s a messed up world, filled with messed up people. I should know. I’m one of them.

One thing that the Christian Bible teaches in Genesis 3 is that close to the start of human history, a couple of people turned away from what was good by deciding that they knew better than God. And, since then, that’s exactly what all people keep on doing: all of us keep walking away from the good.

Yet, fortunately, we haven’t forgotten what goodness is. Even when we step out of the light, we are acutely aware of what light looks like. This residual good is ingrained in us. It’s built into us, part of our genetic and psychological makeup, and no matter how hard we try to shake it, we all know what is right and what is wrong.

Now, the point I want to get to is this: all of us, fallible as we are, are pretty good at noticing what’s wrong. The problem is, we forget to see that God’s grace is all about making things right, putting this broken world and our broken souls back together. God is all about drawing us back to Himself, bringing us back to Eden.

If we begin the human story at Genesis 3, all we will see is our fallenness (in the form of what St. Augustine calls “The doctrine of original sin). And, certainly, we are fallen. But if we read Genesis 1 and 2, we see that it all starts with a good God who made everything good. And the whole story of the Bible is all about returning to good. Genesis 3 belief calls us to simply get rid of the bad. Genesis 1 and 2 belief encourages us to figure out what a whole, full, joyful life looks like.

The Hebrew word ‘teshuva’ (often translated ‘repent’) simply means ‘return’, and it’s found all over the Bible. Return, like the prodigal son; return like an adulterer who realises that infidelity breeds contempt; return like an addict, who sees that there was a time before that addiction ruined his life. 

Life is not all bad. It's not all a mess. It's just that it's difficult to see the good first without a change of heart.

So return.

Being a follower of Christ isn’t about becoming really good at pointing out how stuffed up everything is – everyone’s doing that. Being a follower of Christ isn't about discovering that there are all sorts of rules that we need to follow to learn how to get into heaven. Being a Christian means waking up to the fact that, in small and great ways, something amazing is happening. Revelation 21:5 records Jesus’ words, which are a magnificent summary of this happening: 

“See, I am making all things new.”

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