Setting the world right

“… evangelism, which will flourish best if the church is giving itself to works of justice (putting things to rights in the community) and works of beauty (highlighting the glory of creation and the glory yet to be revealed): evangelism will always come as a surprise. You mean there is more? There is a new world, and it has already begun, and it works by healing and forgiveness and new starts and fresh energy? Yes, answers the church, and it comes about as people worship the God in whose image they are made, as they follow the Lord who bore their sins and rose from the dead, as they are in dwelt by his Spirit and thereby given new life, a new way of life, a new zest for life.” — NT Wright, Surprised by Hope

Let us, as the Church, find this hope-shaped mission, abandon our dualism of “saving souls”, and truly be about the work of our Lord.

I am but a shadow of my future self

How I live now matters. My body matters. My mind matters. It is not discarded in the future, so I can treat my current life any way I want.

Current gleanings from NT Wright’s book, Surprised by Hope:

I am but a shadow of my future self.

How I love now matters.

What we do in the present matters. It will last into God’s future. Our vocation. Our gifts. Our actions. Our care. All of it is getting us ready for our future selves.

All along the way we are building for God’s Kingdom.

Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, The Resurrection, and The Mission of  the Church: N.T. Wright: 9780061551826 - Christianbook.com

Heaven and hell isn’t the ultimate question

If I could get every American conservative Christian to read Surprised by Hope, it would be mandatory reading.

Wright forces my thinking away from what I thought was the ultimate question: Who is going to heaven or hell? (And, did God send them there or did humans choose?)

Maybe we’re asking wrong questions, and this is what stirs me reading this book again. I need to understand what the ultimate questions are, and be willing to surrender my old thinking. Maybe the question isn’t about who is going to “make heaven” and how. Maybe the question is how is God going to redeem and renew his creation through human beings and how is he going to rescue those humans themselves as part of the process but not as the point of it all.

I need my life aligned with HIS ultimate goals, not mine.

Notes on redemption

A few notes jotted down on the plan of redemption from NT Wright’s book, Surprised by Hope.

Redemption isn’t scrapping what’s there and starting from a clean slate. When I read passages talking about a “new heaven and new earth” that was the mentality I had. The old earth (where we live currently) would be burned up and something new would replace it. That isn’t redemption.

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Something missing from the Gospels

I am working my way back through NT Wright’s book, Surprised by Hope, and it is bending my mind all over again. How I used to think about heaven and eternal life was transformed by this book, and I need this refresher.

Wright has the reminder for me that the New Testament witness isn’t about believing in Jesus so that when we die we get to go to heaven. Strangely enough, that is completely absent from the gospel narrative.

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Wrestling with who I am

I am so grateful for the walk I have with the Lord. Struggle as I might, his Spirit keeps leading. When I am walking in discipline it gives room for the Holy Spirit to direct. One of my regular disciplines is to read through the Daily Office Scriptures. In the new Anglican Book of Common Prayer, that is a big chunk every day.

What I have allowed myself to do is simply be on that journey and listen. There are times when the Spirit says, “Slow it down here. Camp here. I have something to talk over with you.”

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