Challenge of Jesus In A World of Brokenness

If not us, then who?“What we are faced with in our culture is the post-Christian version of the doctrine of original sin: all human endeavor is radically flawed, and the journalists who take delight in pointing this out are simply telling over and over again the story of Genesis three as applied to today’s leaders, politicians, royalty and rock stars. And our task, as image-bearing, God-loving, Christshaped, Spirit-filled Christians, following Christ and shaping our world, is to announce challenge of Jesusredemption to the world that has discovered its fallenness, to announce healing to the world that has discovered its brokenness, to proclaim love and trust to the world that knows only exploitation, fear and suspicion. So the key I propose for translating Jesus’ unique message to the Israel of his day into our message to our contemporaries is to grasp the parallel, which is woven deeply into both Testaments, between the human call to bear God’s image and Israel’s call to be the light of the world. Humans were made to reflect God’s creative stewardship into the world. Israel was made to bring God’s rescuing love to bear upon the world. Jesus came as the true Israel, the world’s true light, and as the true image of the invisible God. He was the true Jew, the true human. He has laid the foundation, and we must build upon it. We are to be the bearers both of his redeeming love and of his creative stewardship: to celebrate it, to model it, to proclaim it, to dance to it.

“As the Father sent me, so I send you…

…receive the Holy Spirit; forgive sins and they are forgiven, retain them and they are retained.” That last double command belongs exactly at this point. We are to go out into the world with the divine authority to forgive and retain sins. When Jesus forgave sins, they said he was blaspheming; how then can we imagine such a thing for ourselves? Answer: because of the gift of the Holy Spirit. God intends to do through us for the wider world that for which the foundation was laid in Jesus. We are to live and tell the story of the prodigal and the older brother; to announce God’s glad, exuberant, richly healing welcome for sinners, and at the same time God’s sorrowful but implacable opposition to those who persist in arrogance, oppression and greed. Following Christ in the power of the Spirit means bringing to our world the shape of the gospel: forgiveness, the best news that anyone can ever hear, for all who yearn for it, and judgment for all who insist on dehumanizing themselves and others by their continuing pride, injustice and greed…

The gospel of Jesus points us and indeed urges us to be at the leading edge of the whole culture,

…articulating in story and music and art and philosophy and education and poetry and politics and theology and even–heaven help us–Biblical studies, a worldview that will mount the historically-rooted Christian challenge to both modernity and postmodernity, leading the way…with joy and humor and gentleness and good judgment and true wisdom. I believe if we face the question, “if not now, then when?” if we are grasped by this vision we may also hear the question, “if not us, then who?” And if the gospel of Jesus is not the key to this task, then what is?”

—  N. T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus

You’ve got a smile
That lifts me out of here
When I’m all tripped up
And turned around
Down in the trenches
Where you lift me up again
My heart and mind so far away

For the longing, the aching and the call
There is no denying her at all now

Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way
To the glory of the world
We were made for
Beauty leads the way

Look in the spaces
Where the separation thins
To dislocated cracks of light
Under the surface
Up above it’s all the same
You’re everywhere but hard to find

For the longing, the aching and the call
There is no denying you at all now

Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way
To the glory of the world
We were made for
Beauty leads the way
[x2]

our brokenness

Take you by surprise
Go right into the flames
Measures the sacrifice
‘Cause beauty leads the way

She’s like the morning sun
The answer to your shame
Rescued from where you were
Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way

Tears, brokenness & broken hearts

“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations


 

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