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Posts Tagged ‘Kingdom’

It is hard to not be effected by what has been happening in Japan over these last several days. Coupled with other recent events such as the cyclone and subsequent flooding in Queensland, Australia, and the ongoing political tension in Libya and the Middle East, it brings me down to earth about the hard reality of this world. In particular it makes me wonder about the future, the Kingdom of God, and what God has planned for the earth.

Searching for ideas about what to make of all this, I stumbled across a blog post by Daniel James Levy on the American Evangelical Environmental Network website.

Growing up he had a “view of the world which in turn will one day end in some kind of cataclysmic explosion, which of course included some kind of nuclear missiles, huge machine guns, and the death of trillions of people and animals. After this, God will one day blow up the entire cosmos, just as He spoke it into existence.”

Yet as a youth Levy explains that struggled to reconcile this picture of the future with the call for Christians to spread the Good News and make the world a better place.

Levy writes,

“I remember vividly leaving my youth group one Wednesday night when I was 15 years old, the youth pastor talked about trying to lead people to Christ, to make the world a better place, and so on, but it never made sense in my head. “Why if this world is getting dramatically worst day by day (as his theology taught) would I labor to bring a difference here and now, if it will ultimately do nothing”, I said to myself. So when Jesus said He feeds the birds of the air, I could never make sense to why He does. The only reason it could be, was of course, for me.”

Levy explains the journey he has been on to reconcile this tension.

Drawing on what Stassen and Gunshee in Kingdom Ethics call a covenantal perspective – where covenants such as God’s covenant with creation after the Flood, and the laws of the Israelites which included duties involving non-human creation – Levy explains that we are invited to participate with God in the care of creation.

He writes, we “…are supposed to be a reflection of His nature in the world, which includes His care for the creation.”

While I was hoping that Levy would fill out more what this means and involves (I suppose we have to read Kingdom Ethics for more) he finishes with a beautiful illustration from New Testament scholar N.T. Wright.

Wright describes that for a person moving into a foreign land it is best that they know the language of the locals before they arrive, rather than learning when they get there. That way, when they arrive, they feel at home and a sense of place. He then compares this to us in the here and now and the future Kingdom of God in its fullness.

I don’t know exactly what this means for Queensland and Japan, but it does give me a sense of purpose, something to set my mind to, in an orientation of hope and expectation. In the face of floods and cyclones, I can still all be learning a language of love.

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Check out this poem:

 

God Works in Cycles and Seasons:

“…He guides the days and the seasons;
He guides the birds through the air.
God works his gracious redemption”
We are but dimly aware.

God has his own eco-logic;
God has his own Kingdom plan.
God works in Trinity wisdom;
God holds the world in his hand.

Cycles of cloud and of water,
Cycles of wind and of rain,
Deep-moving flows of the ocean,
Circling, returning again”

Cycles of love and of spirit,
Cycles of seasons of grace,
Times of refreshing revival,
Gaining fresh light from his face.

God is the world’s great Composer,
Dramatist, Architect, King”
Rhythms of art; sounds melodic”
God gives us music to sing.

God simplifies deepest mysteries;
God complicates best-laid plans.
We walk in wonder before him,
Trusting our ways in his hands.

God in our own lives recycles”
Physically, through blood and cell;
Spiritually, through prayerful rhythms;
Stewardly, as we serve well.

We are a part of the story;
We have our key roles to play”
If we but follow the Master”
Spirit led, day after day.

We are God’s keepers of nature;
We are his stewards of grace.
We live the Spirit’s commission,
Stewarding both time and space.

God makes us all his recyclers”
This is no secular whim.
This is no plot of the devil”
God makes us stewards for him.

God is the Lord who recycles,
Bringing forth things old and new.
God even makes evil to serve him,
Turning the false to the true.

God is the perfect Recycler”
No wastage; nothing is lost”
Whether in storm, wind, or fire,
God wins the world through the cross.

“Praise God in his sanctuary!
Praise him for his mighty deeds!
Praise him with loud clanging cymbals!
Praise him, all that lives and breathes!”

 

This poem is based on Psalm 150 and other Scriptures.  By H0ward A. Snyder, Professor of Wesley Studies, Tyndale University College and Seminary. See here for the full poem.

What do you think…? Do you agree that God works in Cycles and Seasons?

Poem posted on the Evangelical Environmental Network website.

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There is a lot to celebrate at Christmas.

The Incarnation signals a renewed relationship between God and humankind, between heaven and earth, and between the peoples of the earth.”

So says Simon Holt in an Evangelical Alliance article, “Christmas Feast.”

Drawing on his own Christmas culinary cravings, and the work of L. Shannon Jung (Food for Life), Holt challenges us to reposition our understanding of Christmas roasts and all the trimmings into a Christ-centered perspective.

Holt writes:

The real joy of Christmas is found in connection, connection to God and each other.”

Food is a gift. From God. Making it sacred. (So says me reading Holt who read Jung). The problem is that we’ve become distanced from the gift-Giver, and we’ve become disconnected from other people and the earth – with whom, I’d argue, we can share this gift, and better appreciate it.

What am I going to do this Christmas to reconnect food and faith? Do you agree with Holt’s article…if so – how are you going to respond?

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What drives our environmentally friendliness?

Why do we care?

Why act?

Check out this mini-film, based on the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18:9-14.

Director Emily Manthei is a young Christian artist based in California. She’s passionate about

creating words, images, music and films to challenge and inspire the audience.”

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I’ve just read a blog post by Dave Fagg, titled “Heaven is my home, one day I’ll be there…”

In it he discusses Tom Wright’s book “Surprised by Hope” and muses about what it means to be caught in the tension between life in the here and now, and when God renews all of creation – which we understand to be heaven.

In explaining Wright’s work, Fagg says:

…in some way we will be living life in real bodies as God intended – radically different from how things are now, but in some ways radically the same.”

In reading Fagg’s work, I can’t help but think of the Job 19 text (19:25-7), when Job declares:

I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;

I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!”

What beautiful, confident, hopeful words. Do I – do we – believe them? Does the way that I live testify to my belief? What a challenge, and yet, what a privilege to try live out these words.

As in my last post – about Philip Yancey – this article also challenges me to think more deeply about how I personally, and within my faith community, can participate in the story of heaven and the journey we’re on as people of God to its realisation in its entirety. If only God had given us a step-by-step instruction manuel about how to go about this. Yet, as Fagg concludes, we’ve been given some help: the Bible gives us slivers of insight about the journey and about what the fullness of heaven will look like, and we’ve been set on our way by the example of Jesus.

If you’re looking for further reading on what our care for creation might look like, check out “A Covenant with the Earth” by Matthew Farrelly (the second part of the article provides a helpful discussion on covenant, Christ and creation) at Christianity Today.

And there is more to the story…see here for the second part to Fagg’s article where he continues with and develops his discussion.

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What did you think when you got your provisional licence?

How did you feel when you gave someone – or received – an engagement ring?

This article, by editor in chief of Christianity Today, David Neff, is about what it means to be living in a limited world. To be waiting for the fullness of the Kingdom of God, in the same way that having our L’s or P’s or an engagement ring is a significant waiting time for a promise to be realised.

It is about a promise of something else to come: the fullness of the Kingdom of God. But that it is important for us to live well waiting in that promise. Neff writes,

seeing Creation as promise prevents us from treating it as mere raw material.”

While I agree much of this article, I’m not sure about his argument that polarizes putting creation on an idol-like pedestal or turning it into a worthless material fit only to be consumed by us. There is a deeper and richer discussion to be had about what lies in the middle of these two frameworks.

For example, he illustrates his point by referring to the significance of natural cycles for pagan cultures of the Old Testament times, and argues that instead Christians should see the world through the lens of history. Yet God has instituted the seasons and the cycles of the world. Our lives are governed by these seasons. Surely it is good to praise God for, and celebrate His gifts to us in this Divine Ordering, and that we can do so without worshipping the created over the Creator?

I agree with Neff when he calls for Christians, Evangelicals (especially pietist and revivalist strands) included, to embrace not only personal salvation but that the whole of Creation will be redeemed as well (referring to Paul in Romans 8:20-24).

He writes:

When we remember that a restored humanity in a restored Eden is the crowning vision of Scripture, we come to see ourselves and our responsibilities in a bigger, broader landscape.”

He argues that we should care for creation not primarily out of our own self-interest, but because God loves it and has grand plans for it.

Finally, he calls us to contemplate what Jesus meant, when he asks us to love our  ‘neighbour’.

Yet I would throw into his question thoughts from Sara Miles,who writes:

[a]pparently Jesus thinks there are two kinds of people in the world: our neighbours, whom we are to love. And our enemies, whom we are to love.”

What are your thoughts about how the coming of God’s Kingdom influences our daily lives now? Who are our neighbours and how can we love them?

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