Friday, October 28, 2011

Coming Home

Everything starts with God. He stood at the beginning, outside of time, infinite, holy and personal. Infinite, of course, means he has no beginning, no end, totally self-sufficient and has no limitations. (Having no limitations metaphysically does not mean that he may not have limitations by choice. He may choose to limit himself because he interacts with finite beings.)
Personal means he has qualities of personality. He has volition. He loves. He communicates. He enjoys beauty, music and company. He is creative. It is the quality that connects God and men together most in relationship.

I think holiness is a difficult to understand. Perhaps it is because this is where the design of humanity is most broken. Holy describes God’s character and his expressions of it. This includes his glory, his moral perfection, his integrity and his wholeness. His is the most sane. He achieves his potential. His personality is the most integrated.

When God created man, he designed man in his image. Man is obviously not infinite. Man has both a beginning and an end. Man is not self-sufficient. He has needs that he cannot meet by himself. Man has limitations.

But God did create man both personal and holy. Man is personal, because he has volition, gives and receives love, enjoys beauty, communicates and creates.

Man was created holy. He had a glory, but it was not like God’s glory. He was created morally perfect. God did not intend that man choose greed, hatred and the actions consistent with those heart conditions. He was created with integrity. He did not say he believed one way and acted differently. He lived his potential, except as it was limited by his finite nature. Men was created to love, be patient, be kind, express goodness, be gentle and live in perfect self-discipline. And as man was created to be holy, his spirit, soul and body would thrive as he lived out of his heart. So, holiness would also be expressed in joy and peace. And man lived this also.

The world is not like this. Man is not like this. People are greedy, hateful, hypocritical and violent. Some are insane. Peace and joy are fleeting. The world is broken. And people know it is broken.

The “Occupy Wall Street” protests have been going on for some time. I have heard and read opinions for and against. I see an example of the world’s broken state. Whether from frustration or altruism, the protesters are voicing the recognition that the world should be better. We all dream for something better. Some of us work for something better. And some work for themselves only.

But there are also reports out of the OWS camps of drugs, alcohol and rape. There are complaints in some cities that the OWS protests are hurting people who are working to survive by hindering their businesses. The Oakland police shut down the OWS camp in that city because of reports of crime, and unhealthy and unsanitary conditions. And the OWS protesters, who dream of a good life for all, and better tomorrows, rioted. These dreamers are part of the brokenness as well.

Man is finite and broken. And it is these two conditions that keep him from fixing himself. God holds us responsible for the brokenness. Decisions were made, and this condition of brokenness, which the Bible calls “sin”, was spread throughout mankind. Man caused the brokenness. And we all suffer for it. And we cannot seem to fix it.

That’s part of the bad news. The other part fo the bad news is God holds us responsible for our part in perpetuating the brokenness. The brokenness began with man’s choices. It continues with our choices. And we are as guilty as the Robber Barons, or the OWS criminals.

The good news is that God has held firm to his original intentions. He wishes for man to be restored to his original place and to live according to his original design.

But how does he accomplish it? Man is finite and broken. He is not big enough to span the gulf.

Suppose we were to set up a system to allow man to work off his guilt? Suppose there were a couple. Further suppose one of them engaged in adultery – perhaps once, perhaps many times. How many bouquets of flowers or chores completed around the house would it take to win the trust, forgiveness and restore the relationship of the couple?

What the restitution be for stealing a poor person’s last dollar, or a rich person’s priceless Rembrandt? Or how do you repay for a murder of a child with Down’s syndrome, or of a doctor who is within a whisker of developing a cure for cancer?

Can the price for any of these be calculated? But God chose to pay a price. The price was the life of Jesus. This price made restitution for all our brokenness.

Believers in classic, orthodox Christianity recognize this healing does not get applied indiscriminately. There is a choice on our part. We choose to become part of God's family. We choose her values, his mission and his authority. And God responds to us. In Jesus, he has created a bridge to us. In our choice, we gain the right to cross that bridge, re-establish a relationship that had been broken, begin the process of healing and restoration and come home. We come to a place we were meant and designed to be.

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