It’s Not the Location; It’s the Landlord

By Notorious4life (talk).Notorious4life at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

By Notorious4life (talk).Notorious4life at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

I was taking my son to school this morning, and we were listening to folks on the radio talk about their faith and such. A woman came on, talking about how her favorite song reminded her that, “this world is not her home.” She went on to talk about how it was great to remember that we don’t belong here and this isn’t our true home.

I started to think about how many songs talk about that, and how it’s generally understood belief that this place—this earth and all that’s in it—isn’t our true “home”, and we’ll never be content here until we go to our “true home”.

Then I thought, “I wonder how God feels about this?

Does it bother Him that we so easily throw aside the world He created and declared “good” in Genesis 1 and 2? 

Even in light of the Fall, is God ready to scrap this place, declare it a mistake, and evacuate us all (along with everything else He spoke/sang into being) to somewhere else?

Do we really understand these phrases that roll of our tongue so easily?

A lot of the “not of this world” language comes John’s gospel, reflects the most “Greek-like” thinking of the four gospels, and with Greek thought comes Greek philosophy. To summarize (almost criminally), Greek thought was much more interested in different “planes of existence” than the Hebrew thinking that pervades the rest of the Bible. It’s natural to Greek thinking to think that something we are encountering now is merely a shadow of a more perfect type of that thing that exists in a different world. Greek philosophy would look at, say, a shot of espresso and go, “This represents a shot of espresso, but somewhere there is a true, perfect shot of espresso that exists.”

In contrast, Hebrew thinking says, “Drink the espresso already! Savor it! Enjoy it: God created it!”

Hebraic thought is more inclined to say, “Well actually, this world is our home! It’s messed up, but God will fix it, someday, and until He does we are going to work and be faithful.”

For a few legitimate reasons, it’s much easier for us to gravitate towards a Greek perspective on the world—it’s easy to see its flaws, for instance—but that doesn’t mean that we should do it to the neglect of the Hebrew perspective.

The truth is that God is neither Greek, nor Hebrew; both paradigms help us understand God’s reality more, but neither can tell us the whole truth.

To the thoughts that say, “This world is not our home,” first I’d say, “but what about Revelation?” If you read the end of The Story (Revelation 21-22), it’s pretty clear that, well, God actually remakes this place. It’s New Jerusalem. It’s No More Tears. It’s Twelve Gates. It’s No Temple.

And it all happens here.

On. This. Earth.

I don’t think God is interested in scrapping something He declared Good. I don’t think He’s into throwing less-than-perfect things onto the scrap heap just because they’re broken (I’m thankful for that). Actually, I think that’s what we would do: we’d take one look at this messed up, busted up planet with all its striving societies and dehumanizing and oppressive systems, and we would throw it right over the cliff and take everyone to a new home where we could start over.

But that’s us, not Him. 

I think God is a fixer. 

I think God is in it for the long haul.

In other words, we don’t need to sweat about our location, because even though it’s rough, we have an awesome Landlord.

What do you think? Is this place our home? What would it mean if God intends to heal this place rather than spirit us all away?

 

+e

Just a Prayer

Full disclosure: I saw this prayer from Walter Brueggemann posted on Ryan’s blog. I have no other words.

Another brutality,

another school killing,

another grief beyond telling…

            and loss…

                        in Colorado,

                        in Wisconsin,

                        among the Amish

                        in Virginia

                        Where next?

 

We are reduced to weeping silence,

            even as we breed a violent culture,

            even as we kill the sons and daughters of

                        our “enemies,”

            even as we fail to live and cherish and respect

                        the forgotten of our common life.

 

There is no joy among us as we empty our schoolhouses;

there is no health among us as we move in fear and

            bottomless anxiety;

there is little hope among us as we fall helpless before

            the gunshot and the shriek and the blood and the panic;

we pray to you only because we do not know what else to do.

            So we pray, move powerfully in our body politic,

                        move us toward peaceableness

                                    that does not hurt or want to kill.

                        move us toward justice

                                    that the troubled and the forgotten may know mercy,

                        move us toward forgiveness that

                                    we may escape the trap of revenge.

 

Empower us to turn our weapons to acts of mercy,

            to turn our missiles to gestures of friendship,

            to turn our bombs to policies of reconciliation;

and while we are turning,

            hear our sadness,

            our loss,

            our bitterness.

 

We dare to pray our needfulness to you

            because you have been there on that

                        gray Friday,

                        and watched your own Son be murdered

                                    for “reasons of state.”

 

Good God, do Easter!

            Here and among these families,

            here and in all our places of brutality.

 

Move our Easter grief now…

            without too much innocence—

            to your Sunday joy.

We pray in the one crucified and risen

            who is our Lord and Savior.

 p.s:

“‘Come, Lord Jesus!’

May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.” – Revelation 22v20-21