Last Sunday I had the opportunity to preach at The Practice and launch us into “Stories of Resurrection: Cultivating Eyes to See & Join God’s Redemption Everywhere.” And in many ways, this was my attempt to tell the Big Story of God’s work in the world…or as I joked in the beginning, to tell the story of Genesis 1 to April 2016 in fifteen minutes!
While preparing and sharing this message, I realized again WHY I am still a Christian–and am so grateful to be. It is such good news!
God is actively redeeming and healing the world, and invites every one of us–in the way of Christ–to partner with this good work. Amen. If you missed the message on Sunday night, I’m thrilled to share it again here…
A few excerpts…
There is a great river flowing throughout human history toward full life, blessing, and the flourishing of all things. We saw this at the very beginning of creation when God invited Adam and Eve into vibrant participation with God in the ongoing creation of the world. Basically, God was saying “Will you partner with me for the sake the of the world?” Unfortunately, they said no and chose to carve their own path.
But God didn’t give up. And all throughout the human story, we see God tapping people on the shoulder to say “Will you partner with me for the sake of the world? Would you allow yourself to get swept up in my great river of healing, blessing, and restoring all things?”
Jesus spent his entire ministry illustrating—with life and teachings—what it means to partner with God for the sake of the world. Or as NT theologian NT Wright explains:
“The whole point of what Jesus was up to was that he was doing, close up, in the present, what he was promising long-term, in the future. And what he was promising for that future, and doing in that present, was not saving souls for a disembodied eternity but rescuing people from he corruption and decay of the way the world presently is so they could enjoy, already in the present, that renewal of creation which is God’s ultimate purpose—and so they could thus become colleagues and partners in that larger project.” (NT Wright, Surprised by Hope)
The religious system in Jesus’ day had hardened the Story of God into a set of beliefs and a list of rules to be administered and enforced. Instead of being “blessed to be a blessing”, they tried to build an institution around their privilege. Instead of get swept up in the great river of God’s redemption of all things, the religious leaders tried to build a dam that would keep all the water of blessing inside, and all the unclean people outside.
But Jesus constantly worked against religion’s dam-building project by breaking the rules and inviting outsiders in, over and over and over. Jesus showed us the kind of world that God is looking to co-create with us: one of forgiveness rather than vengeance, giving rather than hoarding, setting free rather than dominating, inviting in rather than keeping out, sacrifice rather than power, justice rather than immoral inequity, truth rather than spin, mercy rather than rules…
No wonder the religious leaders and the national leaders conspired together to kill him.
But not even death could stop him. And in view of resurrection, the Apostle Paul invites us to respond in two ways: Gratitude and Joining in. (1 Corinthians 15) Seeing what God has done, shouting hallelujah, and then joining what God continues to do.
Easter is not only celebrating that resurrection happened in the past, but it’s also about discovering the ways that resurrection continues to happens.
So the question we want to wrestle with this month is “What does resurrection look like in an actual life?” Monday through Sunday. Or, in terms of the big story, “How do I tangibly partner with God for the sake of the world in my everyday life?”