Theology for the Long Haul

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Finding Our Place in God’s Story

In recent months the Christian community that I belong to has been directing much of its attention on Sunday mornings to Christ’s place among us and to the role of the Holy Spirit in renewing our lives. In doing this we have journeyed trough a number of passages in Paul’s writings. Some of my favorite moments on this journey have been our discoveries of connections between Scripture and the life of our congregation. Just like the Christians of Paul’s era, we are living in a society that often misunderstands the values of humility, forgiveness, simplicity, and peace. Like them, we are inundated by a culture that has many conflicting messages. The good news, the gospel message for us, is that the confusion and anxiety of our world have a remedy: the Love of God.

The whole extent of the Christian life can lead us to no greater realization than the simple truth that God’s love conquers all things. It was God’s love for the world (that is, the people in the world not its value system) that led Him to send His Son to us (John 3:16). It was Christ’s love for us that led Him to the cross. It is the same love that binds all Christians together in the unity of the Holy Spirit. It is the same love that heals our pain and inspires us to live in obedience to Christ for the sake of others.

In our search to discover God’s calling for us as individuals and as Christian communities we must never forget the basic foundation of our new life in Christ: unconditional love. Jesus summarized the entirety of the law and the prophets in terms of this (Matthew 22:37-40). The whole story of redemption illustrates this as God continuously reaches out to humanity in love; untimely, with His very Self (the incarnation and the indwelling of the Spirit in each believer). He is forming a family from every tribe and language and people and nation (Revelations 5:9). How do we find our place in this story? How do we say “yes” to the love of Christ on the cross and to the Spirit of Pentecost? How do we accept our identity in His family?

I think the answer is threefold: first, to embrace the view of the Narrator, second, to line our personal stories up with His, and third, to remind ourselves of the magnitude of God’s family. We embrace the view of the Narrator when we try to see the world as God sees it. Power, prestige, self-sufficiency, and other values of our society give way to the values of the Kingdom. We see in “the other” the image of God. We sense God’s love and concern for the unfamiliar person. We go to work, to school, to the hospital, or to the grocery store with John 3:16 in the back of our minds. As we start to see the world in this way the Spirit invites us to offer our lives as worship to God (Romans 12:1). We begin patterning our mindset and approach off of Jesus and others in the great story. We begin to see the themes of forgiveness, sacrifice, and resurrection lived out around us and in us through simple daily routines and transactions. Christ sends us to be in the world as the Father had sent Him (John 20:21). Christ sends us out to invite others into His family.

Finding our place in God’s story is exciting and challenging. Sometimes we can be discouraged when our lives don’t seem to measure up to our Christ-like intentions. Sometimes our efforts to reach out to others in love are misunderstood. We can rejoice though in knowing that, as Christian author Thomas Merton puts it, “the desire to please” God “does in fact please” Him (even when we fail to attain perfection). It is exciting to see God’s power shining through our human weakness. He is at work in us and we can take delight in knowing that He will complete what He has started (Philippians 1:6). The Master Story Writer never tires of writing parts for us in His book. His plot is infinitely more interesting and fulfilling than what we can write for ourselves. Let’s journey on to discover what is waiting for us in the next chapter of God’s story.

Posted by Jacob, who regularly blogs at Inter Christianos.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this was a very timely word for me. How encouraging it is to know that God sees our desire to please Him, even when we haved failed to live up to that desire. Thanks for sharing the truth about God's unconditional love.