The Celebration of the Incarnation

A recent post at the Rabbit Room by Mr. Andrew Peterson has inspired some expression.

Ah, the Celebration of the Incarnation is upon us. Thankyou, Mr. Peterson, for this gentle reminder of how our savior came to us. I am reminded of the often cast-aside carol “Little Drummer Boy.” It strikes me that we all are the little drummer boy, with nothing at all to offer our Savior, our King, our Maker and Redeemer.

What can we give to him? We can give nothing. Nothing but our voices, our hearts, our glory. Nothing but the beat of a drum. In and of itself, the worthless banging of a child in a homemade drum. But a beating signifying the coming of the Christ. He is Emmanuel. He is God with us. And though all we have to offer is a drum beat, that is all he wants of us. Our worship, our trust, our hope and faith, the drumbeat of our lives. And so the little drummer boy beats out on his drum a rhythm of worship and of reverence and awe.

What are we to think of our King, of Emmanuel, coming in such a way? Being born in a stable that you so insightfully described, “as cruel a place as a cross… amidst the dung” But I ask, what better have we humans to offer. In our sin and depravity, the very best we have is a smelly stable. Our good deeds are filthy rags after all. Why should our fine dwellings be any better than dung-filled stables. The Celebration of the Incarnation is upon us, and what a celebration it shall be. The Coming of the King. The Arrival of a Savior. He is Emmanuel! God With Us.

Published in: on December 23, 2008 at 2:18 am  Leave a Comment  
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Race Brought to the Forefront

America has just elected Barack Obama as its 44th president, and, historically enough, he is our first African-American president. This was done amid cries of racism and bigotry as many who objected to many of President-elect Obama’s policies were questioned by his opponents. It has quickly been followed by affirmation by Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, and the entire campaign was flavored by racist remarks by Barack Obama’s former pastor, the Reverend Wright. All the while, polls showed that there were people who would be voting solely on the issue of race, many voting for Mr. Obama because he is a black man, and many voting against him for the same reason.

All this to say that racism has not died in America. It is alive and well. It is something we must deal with, something Christians must deal with, as we continue to be conformed into the image of Christ.

Here are a few short clips of a pastor named Thabiti Anyabwile speaking on reconciliation of races.

I’ve mentioned Anyabwile on before.  He has written a lot on the African-American church and theology. I feel his comments on race are of utmost importance, and cuttingly insightful. His comments can be found here, from a conference held in Louisville, Kentucky last summer called Together for the Gospel.

Anyabwile holds that we separate ourselves based on race, which is a flawed concept. We are all sons and daughters of Adam, and united in that bond.  We are all on the same playing field. As Christians, it is absolutely imperative that we accurately understand race and ethnicity. Very few things have been affected by the Fall as race has been.  And so we must work to redeem it.  

Christ has showed us the way. On the cross, he suffered and died to reconcile men to himself and to unite men in himself. Just look at his disciples. Many of them were of factions that would have been enemies in Jewish culture. Matthew was a tax collector, a hated man in 1st century Israel. They were seen as having sold out their countrymen for gifts from the foreign ruling power. Also among the disciples was Simon the Zealot, a man sworn to fight against the foreign oppressors. Yet they came together, in Christ.

In Christ (in the Christian Worldview) races are redeemed. Christ is head and his church, in love, seeks not itself, but the good (growth, edification, blessing and joy) of others. As the Psalmist says, let the nations be glad!  They rejoice in Christ – every tribe, tongue, people and nation. And yes, that includes every race.

 

Feel free to comment. I’m trying to figure out race in American culture, just like everybody else.

Published in: on November 11, 2008 at 9:51 pm  Comments (1)  
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Constructing a Christian Worldview: Redemption

This is a follow-up from the previous two posts.  It will make more sense if you’ve read the first two before this one.

When last we left off, the world was in a horrible predicament: fallen.  Thats no good way to be.  All constructed worldviews must have at least these three phases: creation, fall, redemtion.  Every worldview has a theory of origins, a beginning to the world and ourselves, the world’s inhabitants.  For the naturalist, this is merely a cosmic coincidence, an accident somewhere in space-time; and for the darwinist, we humans accidentally evolved.  Every worldview is then conflicted in some way.  It is met with a problem that has messed up something.  Just look around, the world is not all that we wish it were.  There are people starving, people killing each other, people sick and dying.  There are problems.  For the naturalist, these problems are merely the root of having not evolved and developed quite enough yet.

Then there is redemption.  What is going on now?  How should we struggle against this problem?  What is the proper course to righting these wrongs?  Again, for the naturalist, believing that there is no God, the problems are right in front of us – poverty, hunger, disease, war, etc.  And if we band together we can eradicate the world of these problems.  We can end hunger and starvation one bowl of soup at a time.  Meanwhile, science holds the answer to all of our medical delimmas.  The glaring problem with thinking this is that death comes.  It comes to all.  Last I checked, nobody gets out of here alive.  And even with all our scientific advancement and humanitarianism, death will still be the last great undefeatable catastrophe.  Death is coming.

But the Christian Worldview is far different than the naturalist worldview.  It is based on a God who is all powerful and all loving.  And especially One who has revealed to us His worldview.  So what does this worldview say about our present state?  It says in big letters:  REDEMPTION.

I must admit that it is a monumental task to even take on speaking of redemption.  It is such an all-encompassing, all-reforming idea, that I will not do it justice.  But what I want to do, is make you think about it.  I want to give you something to ponder, something to focus on and set every part of your life toward.  As Christ set his face toward a cross, we must set ours toward redemption.  And Christ is redemption.

Remember way back at the beginning, in the created order which God called “very good.”  He gave mankind a job, one known as the Cultural Mandate – that is to fill the earth with civilization and God-honoring cultures.  Thanks to the fall, we initially failed miserably.  But because Christ’s substitutionary work on the cross, all is being redeemed.  Remember, God subjected creation to futility in hope.  In hope of what?  “That the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”

Thats where we’re headed.  Thats where the Christian Worldview points.  It points to freedom from the effects of the fall.  It points to ultimate redemption.  We are to set about at the task of the Cultural Mandate.  We are to be a part of redeeming everything to the glory of God.

It is not enough to have our sins forgiven and our hearts redeemed.  Every part of our lives must be saturated with the redeeming grace that has freed us from death to life.  That is a part of discipleship.  And it is not an easy part. But when our minds are turned to the mind of Christ, our lives are transformed.  As Christians, we must not be conformed to the worldly ways of doing things and separate our spiritual lives from our public lives, from our relationships, from our work, from our thinking.  We must make Christ supreme over every part of our lives.  We must be a part of this Redemption.

Pearcy describes it this way:

A young woman working as a technical writer once told me that her job was merely a way of establishing a financial base to do the things she really wanted… but she was mistaken in regarding her earthly vocation as merely a temporary expedient.  In our work we not only participate in God’s providential activity today, we also foreshadow the tasks we will take up in cultivating a new earth at the end of time.  God’s command to Adam and Eve to partner with Him in developing the beauty and goodness of creation revealed His purpose for all of human life.  And after He has dealt with sin once for all, we will joyfully take up that task once again, as redeemed people in a renewed world.

This comprehensive vision of Creation, Fall, Redemption allows no room for a secular/sacred split.  All of creation was orginally good; it cannot be divided into a good part and a bad part.  Likewise, all of creation was affected by the Fall, and when time ends, all creation will be redeemed.

This is so exciting.  Everything is being redeemed.  We are part of God’s plan to redeem all creation.  The proper Christian Worldview has answers to questions that we never even think to ask.  Everything, even death, is being redeemed.  It is not longer wrath and punishment, but grace, that we may say with Paul, for me to live is Christ and to die is gain… My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

Now lets take one more minute here and roll back to another worldview and look at its idea of redemption.  With creation and fall, I dealt with Kant’s worldview of communism, in which it was private land ownership and competition which ruined everything and brought about the fall.  What would he then say of redemption.  Give all land and property to the state.  Let men work for the state and let us all aim for the good of the state and humanity with our work.  If private ownership is the problem, then state ownership is the solution.  Only problem is, just as with naturalism, death is coming.  Giving everything to the state doesn’t fend off or redeem death.  Its still the end, the very end, the last great opponent that we, ourselves, cannot overcome.  But that simply highlights the goodness of Christ and the Redemption He brings – True Redemption, Ultimate Redemption, where even death is a grace.

In closing I would just like to hit on the topic of Consumation.  Some will argue that the worldview has a fourth part and that is the final consumation of the redemption that has been initiated.  And I would say yes.  There is a coming consumation.  It will be the completion of this redemption that we currently experience.  And giving it its own category is a worthy idea.  I mean, look around, redemption is not complete.  We still have hunger and sickness.  But I would answer that Consumation is that final completion of the redemption that is now ongoing.  We must keep in mind that we are the redeemed and all creation is going toward a point where everything is redeemed.  That day is not yet come.  But let us hold on to the hope that it is coming.  If we should put it in its own category, that is OK with me.  But if we should see it as the completion of that which we now experience that is OK with me too.  For me it is easier to think about the Big Three – each separated by a turning point:

Creation.   Fall.   Redemption.