Posts Tagged ‘N.T. Wright’
A good question to ask your kids: Who ARE you??:)
Facebook was full of it. Headline News featured it. It must be a hot topic, so why not weigh in? The focus seems to be on parents struggling with kids going back to school. I wrote this a few years ago, and as I reread it, I found that I still agree with it and want to begin this new school year as a parent with the gospel way as my center:
Christian ethics is not a matter of ‘discovering who you truly are’ and then being true to that. It is a matter, as Jesus and Paul insist, of dying to self and coming alive to God, of taking up the cross, of inaugurated eschatology, of becoming in oneself not ‘what one really is’ already but ‘what one is in Christ’, a new creation, a small, walking, breathing anticipation of the promised time when the earth shall be filled with God’s glory as the waters cover the sea.”
N.T. Wright, The Bible and Tomorrow
Wright points out that our culture often tells us to ‘look inside’ to find that ‘inner creativity’ to make an impact in the world. Thank God, a M.O.M.’s core story tells me something different – it’s not from within me but from without that the power for transformation comes and has come. I don’t have to look for the perfect parenting program or school them in the latest educational approach or use the correct disciplinary method to grow children God’s way. It is not entirely up to me to do it right. I can admit that I’m weak, broken, mean and confused. I can do all of this because of the gospel story which tells me that resurrection has changed me and will change me. On dark days, the power for hope comes from remembering resurrection – Christ was raised from the dead, and in that moment, he made me a new creation. And not only that, but it is through Christ’s being raised to life that my kids will be raised – TO LIFE!
We think less and less about the better things that Christ will bring us at his reappearance because our thoughts are increasingly absorbed by the good things we enjoy here. No one would wish persecution or destitution on another, but who can deny that at this point they might do us good?” J.I. Packer, Affirming the Apostle’s Creed
Where does hope grow? In times of hopelessness. When our hope in earthly things fades, our Christian hope swells. Earthly hope is based on limited vision which leads us to dream mild dreams by heavenly standards: a new IPad for our birthday, an A on the bio exam, a much-needed job, or a longed-for spouse.
While there is nothing wrong with hoping for good gifts in this life, Christian hope far exceeds the small story of earthly hope. Focused on resurrection, restoration, and renewal, Christian hope centers on two key chapters in biblical history. The first is the Resurrection; this real story of Christ dying and being raised from the dead invites us to die and live anew with the raised Christ. It is this story that allows us to look at a world rapidly unraveling, and proclaim with confidence, “New life will arise out of this doomed day.”
Christian hope also focuses on the end of the story told in Revelation 21 and 22, an ending that writes a new and eternal beginning. Revelation tells us that in the new heavens and the new earth there will be no more death, disease, disequilibrium, or despoiling. Instead, there will be health and wholeness, work and worship. Knowing that one day no more tears will flow encourages us to work intentionally on restoring this broken world even as we wait expectantly for a day when our Lord will come and complete the process.
And when our Lord comes, I John tells us: “we will be like him, for we will see him as he really and truly is.” (I Jn 3:4, NLT) Whether we know it or not, this is the deep hope our hearts were made for, the hope that brings our stories into focus. Because of Christian hope, N.T. Wright, tells us, we live differently in this world: “Our task in the present …is to live as resurrection people in between Easter and the final day, with our Christian life, corporate and individual, in both worship and mission, as a sign of the first and a foretaste of the second.” Tom Wright,Surprised by Hope, p. 30
“So, my dear family, this is my appeal to you, by the mercies of God: offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your true and appropriate worship. What’s more, don’t let yourself be squeezed into the shape dictated by the present age. Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you can work out and approve what God’s will is, what is good, acceptable and complete.” Romans 12:1-2
I learned this verse many years ago, in my early Christian days. Sadly, over the years I think I marginalized it in my vigilant battle against “works-righteousnesss.” In his book, After You Believe, N.T. Wright writes about this strange happening in all camps of contemporary evangelical Christianity, reminding us that THINKING is a necessary and essential part of growing as a Christian. Listen to how he says it:
“Part of the problem in contemporary Christianity, I believe, is that talk about freedom of the Spirit, about the grace which sweeps us off our feet and heals and transforms our lives, has been taken over surreptitiously by a kind of low-grade romanticism, colluding with an anti-intellectual streak in the culture, generating the assumption that the more spiritual you are, the less you need to think.
I cannot stress too strongly that this is a mistake. The more genuinely spiritual you are, according to Romans 12 and Philippians 1, the more clearly and accurately and carefully you will think, particularly about what the completed goal of your Christian journey will be and hence what steps you should be taking, what habits you should be acquiring, as part of the journey toward that goal right now. Thinking clearly and Christianly is thus both a key element within the total rehumanizing process (you won’t be fully human if you leave your thinking and reasoning behind) and a vital part of the motor which drives the rest of that process.” P. 158
Those of you who follow this blog know I usually take Sunday, the Sabbath, off from posting.
But TODAY is my favorite day of the year, the day Christians say to one another: ”Jesus Christ is risen today,” waiting for the answer “The Lord is risen indeed!” These truths form the basis of our joy and hope; they guide us in our daily lives. It is too good to pass up.
Today I’ll share with you just a bit more from N.T. Wright’s book, Christians at the Cross, a wonderful small collection of Holy Week sermons that again I encourage you to buy and read. (And no, it’s not too late; in fact, now might be a good time to read it, because part of his point is that today is the BEGINNING of a new story, not the end.)
“…[now] we really should do is have a forty-day party, or maybe even a fifty-one day one, all the way through to Pentecost. If we’ve given up something for Lent, or even if we haven’t, we should take something up for Easter. But how you do that is up to you. My job now is to help you celebrate the first day of God’s new creation.”
“Easter Day is the eighth day, the first day of the new week. This isn’t the end; it’s the beginning.
And that is why Easter is the start of the church’s mission. Let’s be quite clear. The church’s mission isn’t about telling more and more people that if they accept Jesus they will go to heaven. That is true as far as it goes (though we ought to be telling them about the new heavens and the new earth rather than just ‘heaven’), but it’s not the point of our mission. The point is that if God’s new creation has already begun, those of us who have wakened up in the middle of the night are put to work to make more bits of new creation happen in the world as it still is. And that is why we need to leave behind, on the cross, all the bits and pieces of the old creation that have made us sad, that have depressed us and our communities, and start to pray for vision and wisdom to know where God can and will make new creation happen in our lives, in our hearts, in our homes, and not least in our communities. That is what ‘regeneration’ is all about.”
“[We've come...]” on a journey through bereavement and grief to the foot of the cross, and to have planted some seeds have hope. And, as you remember from earlier chapters, the point about planting seeds is that you have no idea what they will do when they come up. What we do know is that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, that God’s new creation has begun, and that we have to do two things: first, to be true to our own baptismal vows to die with him and to share his new life, and, second, to allow his Spirit to work through us to make new creation happen in this world.”
Jesus Christ is risen today!
- 22nd December 2009
- Filed under: advent
N.T. Wright, in his book, The Crown and the Fire, tells the story of meeting a man who didn’t believe Jesus had changed the world. The man said, “If Jesus died to make it a good place, he didn’t succeed. Two thousand years is a long time to wait for things to get better.” Wright tells that he thought of various arguments to the man’s statement but realized what a wrecked world they were standing in (Jerusalem). Wright writes,
“…if there is an answer to that challenge, it won’t come simply in words. It will come in flesh and blood. The word became flesh, said St. John, and the Church has turned the flesh back into words: words of good advice, words of comfort, words of wisdom and encouragement, yes, but what changes the world is flesh, words with skin on them, words that hug you and cry with you and play with you and love you and rebuke you and build houses with you and teach your children in school.” N.T. Wright, “The New Creation,” in The Crown and the Fire
One simple question for us all to ponder today: What words do we need to make flesh today?