“A spiritually whole person longs in certain classical ways. She longs for God and the beauty of God, for Christ and Christlikeness, for the dynamite of the Holy Spirit and spiritual maturity. She longs for spiritual hygiene itself—and not just as a consolation prize when she cannot be rich and envied instead. She longs for other human beings: she wants to love them and to be loved by them. She hungers for social justice. She longs for nature, for its beauties and graces, for the sheer particularity of the way of a squirrel with a nut. As we might expect, her longings dim from season to season. When they do, she longs to long again.
She is a person of character consistency, a person who rings true wherever you tap her. She keeps promises. She weeps with those who weep and, perhaps more impressively, rejoices with those who rejoice. She does all these things in ways that express her own personality and culture but also a general “mind of Christ” that is cross-culturally unmistakable.
Her motives include faith—a quiet confidence in God and in the mercies of God that radiate from the self-giving work of Jesus Christ. She knows God is good; she also feels assured that God is good to her. Her faith secures her against the ceaseless oscillations of pride and despair familiar to every human being who has taken refuge in the cave of her own being and tried there to bury all her insecurities under a mound of achievements. When her faith slips, she retains faith enough to believe that the Spirit of God, whose presence is her renewable resource, will one day secure her faith again.”
–Cornelius Plantinga, Not The Way It’s Supposed To Be, pg.34-35
I’ve been thinking through the big picture of the bible and wrote down some stuff from books that I’ve been reading, and also from Adam Ellis’ summary on these blogs. Ellis’ words are in bold.
WHO ARE WE?
We are the people of God, created in his image. That image is distorted by the Fall but is still there.
“You made us only a little lower than God.” 2
“They will be masters over all of life.” 3
“God made human beings precisely in order to care for the earth. We were made to serve this purpose. It is built into our very being; it is our very design.” 4
“Humans were made to reflect God’s creative stewardship into the world.” 5
“To image God, then, human beings are charged not only with care for earth and animals (‘subduing’ what’s already there) but also with developing certain cultural possibilities (‘filling’ out what is only potentially there). 6
WHERE ARE WE?
We live in God’s world which he created and loves. God loves creation simply because it exists. We believe that this world was created “good” (in the “loaded with potential” sense) and not perfect (in the “complete” sense). We believe that God created us and this world to live in harmony with each other and with him.
“The first act in the world’s drama is God’s act of creating and sustaining ‘all things visible and invisible’ out of a generous desire to enlarge the realm of being, to bestow life and goodness on others, and to assist others to flourish in the realm created for them.” 7
“God leads a very interesting life and is full of joy. Undoubtably he is the most joyous being in the universe…We pay a lot of money to get a tank with a few tropical fish in it…but God has seas full of them, which he constantly enjoys.” 8
“God loves creation. God celebrates creation. God even plays with his creation.” 9
“It was good…it was good…it was good…it was good.” 10
WHAT IS WRONG?
Human beings make an extremely destructive choice very early on in the narrative. That choice has far reaching consequences and knocks the entire creation project off course. The shalom, or harmony that is supposed to exist between God, people and creation is shattered. The world is not what God dreams for it to be, and all creation seems bent on moving in the opposite direction.
“The glory of God’s good creation has not been obliterated by the tragedy of the fall, but it has been deeply shadowed by it. The history of our race is, in large part, the interplay of this light and shadow.” 11
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
God does not give up on his dream for creation. He enacts a plan to bring about the “restoration of all things.” This plan involves covenanting with a cummunity of people to operate as agents of shalom in the midst of a broken world. God becomes a human being whose life, death and resurrection open the door for a renewed creation of shalom between a) God and human beings; b) human beings and other human beings; and c) human beings and creation. God calls a group of people to live in his reality now in the midst of a broken world. He calls us to partner with Him to make it more and more the place he always intended it to be. He promises that one day Jesus will return and that heaven and earth will be renewed. He insists that we will be resurrected so that we may enjoy the fulfillment of his promise and his dream for all creation.
“The Christian life is a quest to recover our humanity.” 12
“You have stripped away the old self, with its ways, and have put on the new self, which is continually being renewed in fuller and fuller knowledge, closer and closer to the image of its Creator.” 13
“The principalities and powers that kept us in exile have been defeated; they need reminding of this, and we need reminding of it too, but it is a fact – if it isn’t, the cross was a failure.” 14
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
“Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.” 15
“The story of Scripture is the story of ‘Emmanuel’, for it describes how God progressively comes to live with us on our planet, at each appearance staying longer and in more permanent form.” 16
“Our destiny is an earthly one: a new earth, an earth redeemed and transfigured. An earth reunited with heaven, but an earth, nevertheless.” 17
“Scripture appears to teach not only that there shall be a new heaven and earth, but also that it shall be this earth, renewed. In Revelation 21 the city of God descends to us. We do not go to heaven; heaven comes to us.” 18
1 Genesis 1:27
2 Psalm 8:5
3 Genesis 1:26
4 Heaven is Not My Home by Paul Marshall pg. 18
5 The Challenge of Jesus by NT Wright pg. 184
6 Engaging God’s World by Cornelius Plantinga pg. 33
7 Plantinga pg. 44
8 The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard pg. 62,63
9 Plantinga pg. 24
10 Genesis 1
11 Plantinga pg. 53
12 Heaven is a Place on Earth by Michael Wittmer pg. 83
13 Colossians 3:9-10
14 Wright pg. 185
15 Revelation 21:3
16 Wittmer pg. 205
17 Marshall pg. 11
18 Plantinga pg. 32