Friday, September 28, 2012

Human Becomings

My years serving among the church have changed my youthful belief that if we just get out and end poverty and hunger and disease and war, then the world will become God’s kingdom. And I left behind the youthful period of navel-gazing, believing that the goal of all things is to flee earthly troubles by getting in touch with some spirit world. And I also left behind—though the temptation always lurks for pastors—the goal of simply getting warm bodies seated comfortably in pews and building a strong church-organization. I left all this behind for the power to become a child of God.

Perhaps the most magnificent promise in human history is that those who welcome Christ are given the power to become children of God, new creations born of God’s will and God’s power. This becoming, the work of God’s grace alone, is nonetheless a cyclical process--starting within, moving out, and flowing back.

Jesus described it as being part of the flow of real life, that those who thirst for something more, for something real, should come to him and drink. Then they would be filled with streams of living water--that is to say, filled with real life. The thirsty come to Jesus, the Source, they are filled and poured out to others who are thirsty, they lead the others to the Source, from whom they are filled in order to be poured out, and the cycle continues every moment of every day until “the earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Is. 11:9).

I realized I had to raise my 
daughter as a sister in Christ.

What does this look like? I’ll tell you what it doesn’t look like: headlines. I remember sitting at the dinner table with my wife and our then 6-month-old daughter, reflecting on the evening news—war, corruption, starvation, scandal, greed, blah blah blah. I was sickened in my depths at the thought of my child growing up amidst such horror. And I was just as sickened wondering what her generation might do with such a majestic mess. 

“She’s so innocent,” I thought. “Where is the change? Where are the heroes? Who’s going to fix everything?” But I couldn’t get away from the fact that I must do more than just change the community or change the government or change the world. I have to start changing myself—“be the change you want to see in the world” and all that. And we are key parts of each other's world.

Then I realized I couldn’t just raise my daughter as a good human being. I had to raise her as a sister in Christ with the power to become a child of God—a human becoming. She and I share a journey, a journey away from death and toward life. We are on the journey with hundreds of millions, each with the power to become a child of God. And the whole earth trembles as it waits on our becoming. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed (Romans 8:19). How long must it wait? How long...

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