Friday, January 18, 2008

Humanism - Pauline Style

I believe (have not researched recently) it was John Eldredge who I first heard call God "the ultimate humanist." The idea is that no person even begins to desire for the fullness of what it means to be human like God desires mankind to know the fullness of what it means to be human.

Whenever I preach I try to illustrate this "fullness" through the message of the text I am working on. People who hear me preach frequently know that Fear, Separation, and death are broken consequences of God's design for Peace, Community, and Life.

This morning in our Bible Study at work (yes I was preaching rather than teaching today, I do that sometimes) we were looking at Romans 5

Romans 5:1-11 1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! 10For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Now to understand the reconciliation Paul is talking about here, I think we have to look back to the promises made at the beginning of the chapter. Once justified by faith we receive three promises; Peace with God, Hope in the Glory of God, and Love by the Holy Spirit. Reconciliation is not a promise postmortem, instead it is a statement of truth to the reality that has already occurred. The follower of Christ HAS BEEN RESTORED to the fullness of what it means to be human. When I have the peace that comes through faith and the hope of honoring God's glory, and the love that indwells me personally; that means that the peace, community, and life I was created for are restored.

So why then do still worry about my daughter's problems in the classroom? Why do I still have stress over my portfolio? Why do I still fight with my wife? Why after 3 years are my relationships at my church mostly shallow? All of this are signs of my broken humanity.

These issues still exist because I enter into these areas with my carnal mind. I do not bring the fullness of my reconciled humanity into these situations. Kingdom thinking, or living out my faith by setting my hope in God's glory and loving on the radical dangerous level of Jesus, must be integrated into my very fabric. I think Mark 10:45 best summarizes this idea. This is where the rubber meets the roads of following the red letters. Jesus' teachings were about our fears, our relationships, and our portfolios, because his teachings were about how we relate to God and how we relate to others.

When I bring that spirit to my relationships, to my discontent, and to my finances I will find that peace, community are already there and waiting.

No comments: