Monday, October 31, 2011

Eden Planters (Practical Redemption 3)

If God created the Church for Practical Redemption, then what does redemption look like?  It looks like Eden, a time when everything fell in line with the desires of God - a world in harmony: humanity living at peace through love, people and nature benefiting each other, and God walking among us "in the cool of the day."

Redemption looks like Jesus...  little Jesuses popping up around the earth because of the transforming work of the Spirit in the lives of his disciples: Jesus baristas, Jesus lawyers, Jesus teachers, Jesus hairstylists, Jesus businessmen, Jesus janitors...

Redemption looks like heaven breaking into earth, and by heaven I don't mean some other sphere where a Spiritual Scottie magically teleports Christians in the "End Times."  By heaven I mean the domain where things align with the will of God.  It is the answering of the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father in heaven hallowed be your name.  Your kingdom come; your will be done on EARTH as it is in HEAVEN."

Yes, there are commands, laws, and teachings throughout the great story of scripture, but all of them serve the overarching purpose of redemption.  In Revelation 21:5, God says it this way: "I am making everything new!"  We spend so much time camping out on the Means to the Ends.  The Bible isn't about morality,  justice, or orthodoxy, but these three serve as different means of redeeming a broken and hurting world.

As the Church this is our lens, the lens of redemption.  Instead of putting acapella and instrumental worship in the ring to see who beats the snot out of the other, we ask, "How can our worship be Practical Redemption?  How can our worship best shape people into little Jesuses?"  It means we tackle conversations about women's roles with redemption as our guide.  It means we pour as much of our energy into what we do outside the building as to what we do inside the building.  It means we ask, "How do we grow Eden in our neighborhood and city?"  It means we spend less time worrying about conforming to the name on our sign and more time submitting to the Spirit in our heart.  It means that our presence in the world makes a tangible difference in the lives of people. We are a people of Practical Redemption.

[Note: Sin is the antithesis of redemption.  It brings weeds to Eden; it mocks Jesus as a fool; it repels heaven's descent.  I don't write this as a trained theologian.  I write it from experience.  I bit off a big chunk of sin this summer.  It wasn't people telling me, "What you are doing is wrong!" or "Your soul is in danger of hell!" or "You're an a--hole," that broke my soul.  It was my eyes opening to how my selfish and sinful choices undid, on so many levels, God's plan of redemption.  I uncreated!  That's not what I desire. Instead, I want the Spirit to redeem through me.  This is my prayer.]

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