The True Power of the Church (… And why we largely ignore it)

“The local church is the hope of the world.”

As an employee of Willow Creek Community Church that was a slogan that was ingrained into my psyche. I heard Bill Hybels passionately invoke that idea over and over again, at conference after conference. Later, I heard other evangelical leaders take up the phrase, until it was common evangelical parlance.

But I’ve had my doubts.

I remember Hybels talking about being in an aiport, and vividly describing a scene in which two brothers were pummeling each other mercilessly. Hybels basically asserted that NO other organization in the world could address those kids’ challenges. Relatedly, I hear many church leaders claim that only the church is equipped to deal with the totality of a human being’s needs.

But is that really the case?

Maybe a small group or a really close friend could have offered the parents of those children some valuable advice on parenting, but it seems to me that there are a lot of organizations who can do a better job of addressing certain needs of people better than the church can. Health clubs do a much better job of helping people exercise. Professional financial planners, counselors, and doctors are better equipped to help people deal with their finances, their emotional issues and health questions.

Pastors aren’t really financial counselors (FPU excluded), therapists, or doctors.

So first of all, just what are we?

Eugene Peterson says that ultimately pastors are in people’s lives to prepare them for “a good death.”

Wow. I don’t know about that. But I like the idea that Peterson is getting at: pastors should be equipped to deal with the heaviest questions that life has to offer. We confront the Mystery that is God and existence on this planet. With revelation and transformation, with life and death.

Now, the church is full of a lot more people than just the pastors, and this is where things get interesting, because with so many people in one community who are (theoretically, at least) experiencing life altering encounters with God, there is a huge potential for really good things to happen…

* entrepreneurs can be inspired to create socially- and ethically-conscious businesses (that make money!)
* artists can be inspired to create great works of art in community that speak of the deep needs of humanity (and not be kicked out of the church!)
* hurting people can come together to share each others’ burdens (and make recommendations on professionals and specialists who can help them further!)
* people can share resources with those in their community that don’t have as much

… In other words, a lot of problems can be solved. That’s a lot of potential.

But there’s a catch.

In another post, I mentioned that Steven Johnson is one of my favorite authors. In his book Future Perfect, he discusses the phenomenon of collaboration and how collaboration (and thus, problem solving) is drastically, significantly enhanced or limited by the presence or absence of diversity.

University of Michigan professor Scott Page compared the problem-solving capabilities of groups with high-IQ individuals with that of a group of diverse individuals. Referencing Page’s work, here’s what Johnson says: “Diversity does not just expand the common ground of consensus. It also increases the larger group’s ability to solve problems… when it came to solving problems as a group, diversity matters more than individual brainpower.”

Well now.

To transfer Page’s work into a church context, is it possible that the American church’s lack of diversity is critically limiting our ability to solve the problems that our communities face?

I have worked in an intentionally multi-cultural, multi-ethnic church. It was simultaneously one of the most exciting, difficult, messy and rewarding times of my life. Prior to that and since then, however, the churches I have worked at were not really interested in confronting the challenging topic of bringing different racial and ethnic groups together in a faith community in order to really come together and figure out what it means to be the church in 21st century North America (full disclosure: as a leader in my current church, I share the blame for not advancing this topic in my context).

The point is simply this: most churches are trying to solve horrendously complex problems: self-harm, addiction, poverty, abuse, depression, etc. without employing perhaps the ONE concept that would help them the most: the diversity of thought and perspective that (most likely) exists in their congregations. I’d venture to say that most “white” churches are anything but, however their leadership very well may be entirely mono-cultural.

Are we inviting multiple voices into our leadership? Are we bringing a plurality of thought into our efforts to help and serve people? Or does the input and counsel we receive come from people who look (and therefore, think) more or less exactly like we do?

In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul has a powerful message about ethnic diversity, most powerfully stated in chapter 2;

11 So remember that once you were Gentiles by physical descent, who were called “uncircumcised” by Jews who are physically circumcised. 12 At that time you were without Christ. You were aliens rather than citizens of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of God’s promise. In this world you had no hope and no God. 13 But now, thanks to Christ Jesus, you who once were so far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14 Christ is our peace. He made both Jews and Gentiles into one group. With his body, he broke down the barrier of hatred that divided us. 15 He canceled the detailed rules of the Law so that he could create one new person out of the two groups, making peace. 16 He reconciled them both as one body to God by the cross, which ended the hostility to God.

17 When he came, he announced the good news of peace to you who were far away from God and to those who were near. 18 We both have access to the Father through Christ by the one Spirit. 19 So now you are no longer strangers and aliens. Rather, you are fellow citizens with God’s people, and you belong to God’s household. 20 As God’s household, you are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 The whole building is joined together in him, and it grows up into a temple that is dedicated to the Lord. 22 Christ is building you into a place where God lives through the Spirit.

The gospel is not just about reconciliation between God and humanity; it’s about reconciliation across racial and ethnic lines as well.

Perhaps the true power of the local church is the fact that we’ve been called to come across racial and ethnic lines and bind together in the name of Jesus. He died to create ONE body out of two bitter enemies (Jews and Gentiles).

Maybe Jesus knew that we’d need all the help we could get.

 

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That Time When Jesus Kicked Us Out of the House

When Jesus begins his ministry, one of the realities that he stepped into was one of “exile.”

To make a very long story very short, between 580-595 BC, the nation of Israel experiences two devastating events. First, the Temple—the very center of God’s activity in the world—is destroyed. Second, the core population is sent into exile in Babylon. It’s virtually impossible to understand how dis-concerting this was to God’s people.

They were without the sense of God’s presence in the world…

They were without a home…

Psalm 137 records just a little of what this felt like to the community:

“Alongside Babylon’s streams, there we sat down,
crying because we remembered Zion.
We hung our lyres up in the trees there
because that’s where our captors asked us to sing;
our tormentors requested songs of joy:
‘Sing us a song about Zion!’ they said.
But how could we possibly sing the LORD’s song on foreign soil?”

 

Eventually, the Jews returned to the Land, but significantly the presence of the Lord never returned to the Temple. It was rebuilt, but God had not returned. In a sense, they were still in exile.

Furthermore, over time more nations and empires showed up. In particular, Rome came knocking, and easily occupied the land and subjugated God’s people. Now, they were still “in the land,” but they were no longer in control; the Romans were. 

They might as well have been still in Babylon, and again, it’s as if they were still in exile.

God hadn’t come back to the Temple, and they were not in control of the “Promised Land.”

When Jesus shows, up, much of his activity centers around demonstrating that exile is over: God has returned to the Land (through his ministry), and will now “do battle” with Israel’s enemies (who are not the Babylonians, or the Romans for that matter).

At the cross, Jesus defeats the “true enemy” of Israel (evil) by dying. Three days later he rises from the dead and ushers in a new way of living.

But he’s not done yet.

In Matthew 28, he commissions his disciples, telling them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. 19  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20  teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” (CEB)

In short, he sends them out, away from their homes, away from what they know and find comforting.

Kinda sounds like exile…

As one of my professors says, “Jesus announces (through is life, death and resurrection, ‘Exile is over; now go be exiles!’” 

However this time not only has God returned to the Land (in/through Jesus), but now Jesus promises to be “be with” his disciples.

So the bad news is that when we “sign on” to this Jesus movement, we don’t get to come into the house and kick our feet up. Rather, Jesus kicks us out of the house to go be exiles in our world: go out where you aren’t comfortable, where you don’t know all the rules, where things may seem strange and alien to you.

But the good news is that exile no longer has to feel empty, or pointless, or like punishment. God’s presence is with his people, even where things are strange and “different.”

We may be in exile, but we are not alone.

 

 

 

 

HW 2014 :: Last Words :: “You Will Be Sifted”

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Just after the Last Supper, the disciples show their humanness by immediately having an argument on who is the greatest. Evidently they have utterly missed the point of Jesus’ teachings on service and humility. When he hears their debate, Jesus reminds them that the greatest among them “must become like a person of lower status and the leader like a servant” (Luke 22:26).

In the gospels, Peter often serves as the “representative disciple”, meaning that he symbolizes the questions, successes and (mostly) failures of the disciples—of The Twelve and of all us.

Immediately after Jesus reminds all of the Twelve about “true greatness,” he turns to Peter and says, “Simon, Simon, look! Satan has asserted the right to sift you all like wheat. However I have prayed for you that your faith won’t fail. When you have returned, strengthen your bothers and sisters” (Luke 22:31-32).

 

This is a harsh but very true statement that holds as true for us today as it did for Peter. Sifting is not easy. Sifting separates the good from the bad, but it is seldom pleasant. If for nothing else, sifting reminds us that inside us there is both wheat and chaff.

 

Most of the time we don’t want to be reminded that we are not all perfect, but Jesus here reminds the “representative disciple” that it’s sort of inevitable, that some kind of breaking or humbling is going to come Peter’s—and thus our—way.

 

Interestingly, Jesus tells Peter that he has prayed that his strength won’t fail. It’s reminiscent of Jesus’ words in the Lord’s Prayer: “Don’t lead us into temptation” (Luke 11:4b). In Matthew’s version of the prayer, Jesus says, “Don’t lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” There is a sense in Jesus’ teachings that temptation is a given. Avoiding it is not the point, but enduring it is (otherwise, he wouldn’t have to add, “but deliver us from the evil one”).

 

So with these words, Jesus is saying that reflection, humility, and even a bit of failure is inevitable for a disciple, but Jesus will be praying that we find our way through it. 

 

Then  Jesus adds this additional challenge to Peter: “When you have returned, strengthen your brothers and sisters.”

 

The sequence seems pretty clear:

 

  1. We need to be “sifted”: to examine ourselves and see what’s good and bad in our inventory, and then be prepared to respond appropriately.
  2. We need to rely on Jesus’ strength to help us endure the humbling that sifting involves.
  3. After we get done with our inventory, and come to terms with the “chaff” in our lives, we are called to service.

 

Next up: Jesus gets out the pruning shears.

 

Follow me on Twitter: @ericcase

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Holy Week 2014: Last Words – Monday

A couple years ago, I wrote out some thoughts for Holy Week. They were centered around some of the places that Jesus encountered during his last days before his crucifixion. This year, I thought I’d offer some devotional thoughts on some of the last words he spoke. These are simply meant to give us all some things to think about as we process Jesus’ sacrifice.

“Let’s Go To Jerusalem.” 

Though Matthew doesn’t quote Jesus saying this, he does record that “Jesus began to show his disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and legal experts, and that he had to be killed and raised on the third day” (Matthew 16:21).

Personally, I think it’s crystal clear that Jesus knew what was waiting for him in Jerusalem. The portrait that the gospels paint of Jesus is of a man who is well aware of the directions that the winds in Israel were blowing. Between Rome’s empire and Israel’s coming, religion-fueled violent revolution Jerusalem was not the place to go if you (a) wanted to stay safe while (b) preaching the arrival of God’s kingdom.

But safety isn’t part of Jesus’ agenda.

Unless he chooses to change his message (God is King) or his strategy (non-violent resistance and prophetic pronouncements), Jesus knows what waits for him in Jerusalem: the might, power, and force  of the temple and the religious establishment (backed by Rome’s interest in keeping the tax money flowing).

Jesus may not be a mathematician, but I imagine he can add, and he can see that this is going to end badly for him.

But that’s exactly why he chooses to go.

I don’t know if Jesus was “afraid” in any sense that we may understand that word, but at any rate he sees where the danger and darkness lies, and he walks straight towards it. 

For many of us, we don’t need to look very far for darkness and danger. For a lot of us, we have wilderness and black caves inside our own souls; that’s where our darkness is. There are things—brokenness, fears, unconfronted/unacknowledged sin—lurking deep inside of our hearts and lives. They may be backed by the power of years of co-dependency and escapism, and we may be well aware that to confront them may very well mean pain and even death of parts of us.

But in the same way that Jesus knows, and still goes, I think we are called to go: go to the dark places inside us, the places that are rooted in the power of this world, that will buffet and beat us as soon as we show up.

Moreover, I think that we are called to go to the dangerous places inside us with Jesus’ message and method: “God is King, and you will be defeated, not by asserting more power or more control, but by surrender of ego, of self, and by a willingness to die to myself.”

What is your “Jerusalem”? An addiction? A vision of your future that you’ve clung to? Your pride? What would it mean to walk towards it, to face it, and then to surrender so that God can begin to heal you? 

The Bible Project Pt 6: The Mission in Jeopardy

With Abram’s decision to listen and go, God’s rescue project is back underway. Everything that went “wrong” in Genesis 3 is now going to be set right. Abram indeed has a family—a couple of sons, in fact (Genesis 16-21). Then those sons have a couple sons (Esau and Jacob; Genesis 26-28), and eventually we get down to 12 brothers who form the beginnings of this nation that will “bless the whole world” (though they are still just a family, not a nation… yet). One of those brothers, Joseph, ends up in Egypt and actually rises to great status and honor in that nation, and as part of Abram’s family, it’s easy to see how this rise in status will help bless the whole world because, well, it’s easy to equate power with blessing.

But as the years pass, something goes amiss, and the “rescue project” begins to experience a major challenge. Exodus 1:8 says that, “a new king came to power in Egypt who didn’t know Joseph,” and with that innocuous statement, the wheels begin to come off. The Egyptians end up enslaving Abrams family—the rescue project—and forcing them to build cities for them.

How will the blessing move forward now?

In Exodus chapters 4-12, God demonstrates clearly—first to Moses and then to Pharaoh—that the blessing will not be held captive, culminating with the great release of Israel in chapters 12-14.

God’s agenda—the mission to rescue and restore—will not be denied. It will not be held captive, not even by the pre-eminent world empire of the day. The people are set free from their slavery in order to—and this is critical to understand—to get the blessing back on track.

Freedom is not the only point of Exodus; mission is.

This point is born out in the rest of the book of Exodus. In Exodus 19, God tells His people plainly what His hopes for them are:

“You saw what I did to the Egyptians, and how I lifted you up on eagles’ wing and brought you to me. So now, if you faithfully obey me and stay true to my covenant, you will be my most precious possession out of all the peoples, since the whole earth belongs to me. You will be a kingdom of priests for me and a holy nation.” (vv4-6a)

To break this down:

  • Identity is rooted in God’s gracious acts. God released His people merely because they needed to be released, not because they had done anything in particular to warrant his act. He moved before people were able to “deserve” it.
  • Being faithful to God means being a kingdom of priests.
  • Priests, by definition, exist to “intercede” to mediate or “come between” God and those who seek to meet Him.

As God’s mission gets back on track, He does a couple things to prepare this fledgling nation of priests. First in Exodus 20, God gives them a set of basic guidelines—we know them as the 10 Commandments—to live by. This is to be the basic code of life for God’s people so that they can be this nation of mediators, of priests, to the rest of the world. (Notice that these guidelines are not given so that Israel can earn God’s love; God has already unilaterally shown His love for His people by releasing them from slavery. The Law is given after freedom, in order to help His people live out their mission.)

Second, God establishes a “dwelling place” in the midst of His people. Much of the rest of Exodus, from chapter 25 to 40:33, is filled with the instructions of how construct “The Tabernacle” (or “dwelling place”): what materials to use, how to arrange them, what goes inside, who will maintain it, how they will dress, etc., etc. Another book of the Old Testament (Numbers 2) tells us that the Tabernacle sat at the exact center of the camp, and that all of God’s people would camp around it. Finally, everything finally culminates in Exodus 40:34-38—the last four verses of the book—when God enters the Tabernacle:

“When Moses had finished all the world, the cloud covered the meeting tent and the LORD’s glorious presence filled the dwelling. Moses couldn’t enter the meeting tent because the cloud had settled on it, and the LORD’s glorious presence filled the dwelling. Whenever the cloud rose from the dwelling, the Israelites would set out on their journeys. But if the cloud didn’t rise, then they didn’t set out until the day it rose. The LORD’s cloud stayed over the dwelling during the day, with lightning in it at night, clearly visible to the whole household of Israel at every stage of their journey.”

With these words, the Bibles gives us a picture of how God’s mission should work:

  • God has a people
  • He—and worship—is at their center
  • They move when He moves, and stay put when He stays put
  • The world comes to God through His people (the Church); they exist to introduce the world outside to God

Rather than being just an ancient tale of miracles, wandering and tent-making, Exodus gives us the model of mission for God in the world.

 

The Grammies and Satanic Goat Statues: Not Surprised

So I spent last week in a seminary class on Christian Ethics. The class began the morning after the grammies, and not surprisingly the class opened with some alarmed comments about the shenanigans of the night before.

(Disclosure: I declared the Grammies dead and irrelevant after the 1991 “Jethro Tull/Metallica” debacle, though I showed a brief revived interest with 2007′s “duets” idea.)

At any rate, some folks in the class were “shocked” and “appalled” at some of the performances.

Which made me think of satanic statues.

(As you do)

Lately, some pagan—and even straight up satanic—groups (I’m not using these terms pejoratively: they are self-identified pagans and satanists) have petitioned to have monuments and statues placed on courthouse and state lawns alongside “Christian” symbols (you can read the story here).

Ahem.

So I know that I’m supposed to be angry and indignant at this outrage, but I’m really not.

(Well, excepting the fact that the statue is actually quite hideous and ugly… THAT is quite disappointing.)

You see, I like it when people and institutions “show their cards.” When they take off the masks they wear and just declare, “This is who I am: deal with it.”

I like it because then I know a little more of the truth, and I can choose to accept it or walk away from it.

But at least I know.

In these two cases—the Grammies and these petitions—the music industry and our culture—are “showing their cards.”

Church (and I mean everybody): they are not our friends. We should not be surprised.

I don’t mean in a “get-scared-they’re-coming-to-take-me-away-and-oh-please-Jesus-come-back-it’s-the-Left-Behind-series-starting-where-is-Kirk-Cameron” way.

I mean a little more in the “raise-eyebrow-roll-your-eye-turn-off-the-TV-and-read-a-good-book-or-better-yet-have-a-conversation-with-your-actual-family” way.

Let me be really blunt:

  • The Grammies—and the music industry—exist for pretty much one reason: to make money. While they occasionally make a reference to “values”, and while people may occasionally thank God during an acceptance speach, if the industry has to choose between a dollar and Christian values, they will choose the dollar. They are obligated to.
  • The state exists to be a political entity. It has to perpetuate that system. If you know history—at least anything besides recent North American history—you’d discover that the “State” is no friend to faith. Because of the unique era of history that we’ve lived in, it’s easy to believe that our (awesome) political system is an ally of our faith, but that’s an illusion that most of the world does not live in (for that matter, it’s an illusion that most of the history of the Church doesn’t share, but see below).

(This is probably the time that I’d say I don’t believe in a “Christian nation.” I believe in Christians who may be part of shaping a nation, (but really, have you seen the “Jefferson Bible”?) but largely Christianity and politics have been disasters (#Calvin’sGeneva #Rwanda).

Now, in regards to the State, there is some good news:

This is not new.

Our New Testament was written in an era where the State and Roman culture dominated the landscape. But there are repeated reminders that culture, and in particular the State, do NOT have the same interests as Jesus (and His church).

Here are three of my favorites:

1.
In Matthew 2, the magi show up and tell Herod that the KING OF THE JEWS has been born. “When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jeruslam was troubled with him.” (2v3) Why? Because if someone else (namely, Jesus) is King, it means Herod is not. It means that there’s a new king, and he’s coming to Jerusalem to shake things up. Things are about to change. You have to understand that the Jews (and the Christians) of the 1st century didn’t hear “King” like we do, as a private, faith-filled term. They knew their king ruled. Like really. Externally. Visibly. (It goes without saying that we should realize that Jesus is a real, ruling, living King.)

2.
Mark begins his gospel like this: The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son…” (1v1) The Greek word for “good news” is euangelion which, oddly enough, was used by the Roman state to announce a military victory. It seems that what Mark is saying is that Jesus as the Messiah means that a visible, military victory is going to be one. It means that Jesus’ “kingdom” (state) is going to be the new reality.

3.
Saint Paul probably knew this more than any of the writer of the New Testament. He was a Roman citizen, after all, and so he was quite aware of its agenda, and he knew it was not Jesus’ agenda. In 1 Thessalonians he is writing to a church about the time when all things will be resolved, a final time when Jesus will bring all things visibly together. He writes this odd phrase: “When they are saying, ‘there is peace and security,’ at that time sudden destruction will attack them, like labor pains start with a pregnant woman, and they definitely won’t escape.”

Here’s the thing: “PEACE AND SECURITY” WAS A ROMAN SLOGAN. It was meant to remind people, “Hey, your peace, security, and well-being all come from Rome. (So keep supporting us.)” Paul is saying though, “Actually the folks—the state—who are saying we will provide your peace and security are deceived, and they are not your friends.”

For Paul, Rome was no friend of Jesus Christ and His church (though Paul was not above giving sensible advice to living under authority: see Romans 13).

I think the same is true for us today. We shouldn’t be shocked when we see ridiculous behavior on the Grammies, or ugly public art (though I’m sure we Christians have created our share).

To me it’s just those institutions showing their cards.

They are not my friend, and their agenda is not the Church’s agenda.

So get over the shock, and keep on walking, folks. We still have work to do.
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The Bible Project, Pt 3: Enter Humanity (or, “I knew you were trouble when you walked in…”)

 Then God said, “Let us make humanity in our image to resemble us so that they may take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and all the crawling things on earth.”

God created humanity

In God’s own image,

  in the divine image

      God created them,

      male and female

        God created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27)

So God has this creation.

Day after day the rhythm is repeated: God creates, then sits back and enjoys it, and then evaluates it…

And it’s goooood. 

But, somehow, not good enough.

So after the world is complete, God decides to do one more masterfully creative thing…

He makes humanity.

This is no small thing.

With this moment of creation, the first glimpses of our biblical “spine” start to come into view.

Or, to put it another way, this God is up to something.

Broadly speaking, there are three things that we learn about humanity in the creation story. They’re not complicated, but these three things have profound significance for the rest of our story, so it’s important that we understand them.

One: Image

As verses say, we bear the imprint of God’s image on us. At this point in our story, what do we know about this god’s “image”?

  • He creates things
  • He enjoys His creation
  • He even creates human beings, and when He does it, He says it’s very good… 

So whatever human beings are, or whatever they become, one of the ingredients of our spine is that we are marked with the image of this creating, singing, celebrating God. We are called to measure our lives by our likeness to Him.

Two: Work 

In verse 28 of chapter one, God tells Adam (from the Hebrew ‘adam, which is not a proper noun, but rather a generic name for humanity; see Robert Alter’s book on the Pentateuch for more discussion), “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and master it. Take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and everything crawling on the ground.” In Genesis 2, we are told that God puts humanity in a garden (v8).

Here’s the thing about gardens: they take work. 

So God gives humanity work to do: they farm and keep the land (v8 and v15), and they name the animals (2:19-20).

So here’s another little piece of our spine that is beginning to take shape: this God invites—even expects—His creation to co-labor with Him. Whatever work there is to do, God allows humanity to be a part of it.

Work is a part of the divine plan. The garden isn’t all about sitting around, sipping lemonade and listening to lame angels’ songs.

It’s about making sure God’s creation is in balance…

… Oh, and also: don’t forget about the image thing. When we work, we have to work in God’s image. We have to do things the way He would do it (this becomes increasingly important).

Three: Freedom

“In the fertile land, the LORD God grew every beautiful tree with edible fruit, and also he grew the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2v9)

“The LORD God commanded the human, ‘Eat your fill from all of the garden’s trees; but don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because on the day you eat from it, you will die!” (2v16-17)

So God creates a planet that He loves. He creates a creature to co-labor and create and steward this world. Then He tells the human to not eat of a certain tree…

… Then God retreats, and lets the human choose.

(… The outcome isn’t so good.)

This God gives us the freedom to choose, even when the results can be disastrous. 

Why?

I think it’s because of love.

After creating an entire universe and world, it would be a pretty small thing to put, say, a really tall hedge around the two trees. A fence. Anything.

But this God wants humanity to be able to choose.

Because you can’t love without a choice.

I think that if all God wanted was creatures to do His bidding, He could’ve easily eliminated choice or chance. But this God wants more. He wants community. He wants love.

Freely given.

And you can’t freely give something if you don’t have the option to not give. 

So here we stand, and in a way it’s quite simple:

  1. There’s a God.
  2. He created a something: a world.
  3. That world matters to Him. A lot. 
  4. He created someone. 
  5. That someone matters to Him an awful lot, but… 
  6. God is going to let that someone choose to be in relationship with Him.

And that’s going to cause an awful lot of trouble.

Next up: Genesis 3v1-4v16

Oh yeah… and of course I had to include this…