JUSTICE IS REDEMPTION – HOPE – Part 3 – dan o’deens
Moving From Desecrated Space Into Sacred Space
Christianity is not about sin management. The Good News is not just good news about your afterlife. Justice is simply not condemnation. It is not the ‘mercy’ side of our understanding only. It also includes Grace. Justice is restoring the world back to its original intention. It is the redemptive story. It is God and His Body, the Church, redeeming what has become desecrated space and making it sacred again.
The Part of the Story We’ve Been Taught Most
Most of us know that in Genesis 3 the first humans–our great, great, great…great grandparents, Adam and Eve–decided that they could manage life and the knowledge of good and evil, right and wrong for themselves. They turn their back on their loving creator and try and go it alone. It’s as if they tell God, “I think we’ve got this, we can handle life on our own. We’re gonna go off and live a life that displays our glory–shows the world what we’re all about.” This, in essence is what the Bible refers to as sin. And all sin leads to separation from God and death.
The pinnacle of the gospel story is when God himself sends his own son, Jesus, to rescue and restore us to a right relationship with our Father. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection offers forgiveness for our sin and rebellion. This demonstration of love was displayed and delivered ‘while we were yet sinners,’ not when we had our acts all cleaned up.
God’s view of us is the standard by how we should view others. The question: How do you see people? Do you see them first as made in the image and likeness of God or do you see ‘them’ as sinners? Our response to that question determines our understanding of the gospel and redemption.
The culmination of the narrative is found in Revelation 21 and 22. God himself will again, come back and live with humanity and all things will be restored back to the way that he originally created them to be. His glory will be on full display forever.
But there is a problem. For decades, perhaps centuries now, the dominant teaching and preaching we’ve been exposed to seemingly leaves off Genesis 1 and 2. These are the parts where a great and glorious God creates all things good–including humans in his own image. And it also omits Revelation 21 and 22.
The story we preach in most of our churches is told from Genesis 3, where humanity falls and sins, and ends in Revelation chapter 20 where judgment is coming. When we teach within the parenthesis of Genesis 3 through Revelation 20 we make the story of God–the entire Bible–seem to focus on one thing; human sin and an inevitable punishment that awaits.
The Better and More Accurate Story
The story of God is not about “sin management” and doing the right stuff to please a condemning God. This is a very truncated and distorted version of things, and it is man-centered instead of focused on God’s redemption, glory and his Good News.
The gospel is not, “You suck and you’re gonna pay for it!”
That does not sound like very good news. No wonder we find it hard to “evangelize” others. If the best ‘good news’ we can communicate is you’re a sinner and going to hell or you suck and you are going to pay for it,’ then we should not be surprised by our inability to see people make a decision to join our movement and the family of God. i
A Better Gospel
The better story: You were created in the image of a loving and gracious God, destined for an eternal relationship with him. Though it is true that you have rebelled against God, thinking you could create an identity for yourself, one where you are lord over your own life, God himself came on a rescue mission to restore all people, places and things back to relationship with him (including you), back to the way he originally designed it to be. And there is a day coming when he will once again walk and live and dwell with us in a city that is like a beautiful garden forever and ever….but we don’t have to wait until, ‘that day,’ we can be part of a biblical community that is committed to love God and to love people who are striving to make this world a better place.
We live as a family on mission, loving others, serving others like we have been served as a way of life. Not because we are supposed to, but because this is who we are. We get to extend God’s loving rescue mission to the ends of the earth, to every tribe, to every tongue and to every nation.
THE TALK – Part 4
PART 1 and 2 (Scroll Back)
GOD IS NOT COLOR BLIND – EQUALITY – Part 1
FACING THE ISSUE OF RACISM – SILENCE – Part 2