Seeing and Savoring

Name and Place for August 19 (’14)


From pages 64-65 of God in the Whirlwind, Wells continues a case for looking forward to Jesus, applying that forward-looking to backward thinking on what theologians call the “cultural mandate” (given in Genesis 1:28-30).

The exalted role given to us in creation by God has turned into a frustrating defeat.  It has gone dreadfully awry.  Instead of using the creation as God’s gift to us, we use it as a substitute for him (Rom 1:18-25).  We use its resources for our own selfish purposes, for the “good life,” a life of comfort, ease, abundance, and all too often, waste.  We have, in the West, produced unprecedented affluence, but we have also become the victims of what we have produced.  What we have to do to get our hands on this abundance fills us with anxiety, unfulfilled yearning, conflicts, and inability for repose, ceaseless distraction, a sense of confusion, and relentless striving.

We also find that creation itself is disordered (Rom 8:20-23)….Nature is, indeed, “red in tooth and claw.”

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The cost of early industrialization in England

And while we have dominated creation, annihilated space, and ransacked the world for its resources, we have also filled the earth with our fumes and poisons.  Instead of being kings who control everything, we find that much of the domain we were given is quite beyond our control.  Sometimes, it is hostile to us….We do not see human drives, ambitions, loves, passions, and hopes brought into subjection.  What we see are men and women who are, in fact, powerless to be other than what they have become.

However, we do “see” Jesus (Heb 2:9).  What has sent shudders through creation and what disorients life is not a decree from God….It is sin.  And what will restore life, and creation itself, and restore our place in creation, is redemption from that sin.

We therefore look to Jesus, who is “crowned with glory and honor” (Heb 2:9).  He was so crowned before his incarnation and is now crowned subsequent to his resurrection and ascension (Phil 2:5-11)….Yet despite who he was, he had to pass through a valley “of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone” (Heb 2:9).

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How’s that working for you, Joel?

This is a death that has both personal and cosmic significance.  We know that Christ conquered all of the powers arrayed against him when, on the cross, he “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them” (Col 2:15)….Yet there is a paradox here, too.  He has the power “to subject all things to himself” (Phil 3:21), for his conquest is total and irreversible.  But not all things have been subjected to him yet.  Evil still runs rampant in the world.  Creation is still bespoiled.  And human life is still brought low through all of its fallen impulses.  So we wait in hope for that time when all will be placed under the feet of Christ….

 

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