Hi everyone. Rob here.
Last week there was a fascinating show on TV called “What Next?” It looked into what our country will look like in 20 years time and what can be done in problem areas like the environment, entrenched poverty, losing jobs to automation and the difficulty posed by an aging population. It was a very hopeful show. There are solutions to these problems. We are an adaptable nation that’s coped with radical change before. The questions are how willing are we to engage with these issues and how willing are we to take risks as we find the best ways to move forward? One thing bugged me though. In a country with a desperately high teen suicide rate, don’t we need our hope grounded in something more substantial than the human ability to adapt?
Now, don’t get me wrong. Human beings are capable of amazing things. I think that the Church has historically held too low a view of humanity. Remember that we were created glorious with a God-given mandate to reign on the earth. Our vast resources of creativity reflect the fact that we are made in God’s image. But creativity, intelligence and the ability to co-operate are value neutral gifts. They can be used for good and for evil; for many and for a select few; for the community or just for those in power. So we have nuclear bombs and antibiotics. We have laser technology that gets used in warfare and in the operating room. Social media gets used to bring people together and by predators out to do evil. Our hope can’t be grounded in adaptability and technological advancement. It can’t be grounded in human character with its mixed motives of altruism and self-interest competing against each other. To put our hope in humanity alone is to say that we alone are responsible for the future. It is to say that our kingdom is the future and not God’s kingdom.
I am not denying that humanity plays a central role in shaping the future. I am saying that redeemed humanity surrendered to the purposes of God is the promise of the future contained in Scripture. Christ came to achieve this very thing. He calls people to himself as the One who redeems us, rescues us and makes us truly human as we follow him into the world led by the Holy Spirit. His coming again is not the end of the story. Scripture ends with humanity reigning for ever and ever under the glory of God.
The paradox is that for us to achieve our God-given potential we need to take the lowest place; right at the foot of the cross where we die to our desire to be gods, to be autonomous, to be competitors with God. When we do that it enables us to see the so-called lowest people as people loved as sons and daughters just as we are. It sets us free to the demands of power, pride and ego. We can say no to the games of status-seeking and possession gathering. Dying to self-interest sets us free to come alive to kingdom-interest. We learn to live as ambassadors of a kingdom that has sacrificial love at its centre. It thrives when we’re willing to die for our neighbor just as Christ died for us. I wonder what creativity could be unleashed for the good of the world when ego plays no part in its creation and distribution? It’s happening already in many parts of the world where people are starting to reject old models that simply enriched a few at the expense of the many. But for there to be no ego involved we need to die to our own. The kingdom of God has the humility of Christ at its centre.
May we all lay our egos down at the foot of Christ’s cross and come alive to the humility that leads to creativity and life. As we give ourselves over to our Creator may his creativity flow through us for the sake of his kingdom and our world.
Grace and peace everyone.