Tuesday, February 3, 2009

...and for Him

A classmate and I recently started a Bible study for some kids we tutor in downtown San Bernardino. The first week we talked about why it is that we can trust the Bible to be the Word of God. This last Sunday we talked about the subject of creation. We started out by asking the kids how they thought it had all gotten here and then we dug into Genesis. We first read and discussed Genesis 1:1-5 and then showed a short video attempting to give some idea of the immensity of the universe. We then skipped ahead to Genesis 1:24-31 and talked about what it meant to be made in the "image of God" and what it meant for God to look at all He had made and say that it was "very good."

When we prepared the Bible study the night before we wanted to relate our talk to the Person of Christ and we considered looking at the beginning of the Gospel of John or the section on the Preeminence of Christ in the first chapter of Colossians. We ended up going with just one verse from Colossians, "For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through Him and for Him." Our goal is to preach the Gospel each week so we talked about what it meant that everything, including ourselves, were created for Christ. And one of the first things that one of the kids came up with was that we must do the will of the one for whom we were created. From here we went on to talk about the fact that all of us had failed in doing His will and therefore have a debt which must be paid, the debt that was paid on our behalf by Christ in His crucifixion.

But as so often happens with Bible study, meditating on that little section of the verse, "... and for Him," has affected me strongly the last few days. It puts sin in a much clearer light to be reminded that our entire purpose of existence is for Him. And we go against this purpose when we sin. These are all basic statements of truth for the Christian but meditating on this verse during the last few days has put sin in a clearer light for me.

Another thing I've thought about is that many have a very man-centered view of the universe even in the church. And this verse shows what a lie the "man-centered universe" is. This "man-centered" view came up recently when a method of sharing the gospel was presented which I think was deficient but is something many Christians fall into. In this method of sharing the gospel, a drawing is made with two cliffs with a chasm in between. One side is supposed to represent life without Christ and the other, life with Christ. The thing that bridges this chasm is the cross of Christ. So far so good, but in the presentation the presenter wrote a number of words on the side representing life without Christ, words like "hopelessness," "meaninglessness," etc. And on the side of the chasm, representing life with God, words like "peace," "love," and "direction," were written. I think the problem here is subtle but I think it is a real problem. If we want to get across that chasm to get to "peace, love and direction," then "peace, love and direction," have just become idols. "Peace, love and direction" have just become as evil as any other idol that Satan might set up to keep us from God. Ultimately we were made for God, not for "peace, love and direction." Notice that I said, "ultimately," so I'm not denying that salvation will often bring peace love and direction but at times it will not bring these things. Being in Christ will bring hatred, hatred of sin and it will earn the Christian the hatred of the world. Being in Christ should bring a deep inner peace with God, but superficially it may bring anything but peace with non-Christian family members and friends. And being in Christ may cause us to call into question those things that were once best at giving our lives direction. Things like ambition and competitiveness and the desire to have power over others. So crossing that chasm can just as easily destroy certain kinds of peace, love and direction as it will give us new and real peace, love and direction. The fact is that crossing the chasm from unbelief to being in Christ cannot ultimately be about any of those other things we desire. Ultimately it must be about desiring Him. Ultimately it must be about His glory. It must be ultimately about admitting that we were made, "for Him."


Ed said...

Very well said, Matthew. In fact, what you're saying about loving Christ for himself - who he is as a person - and not as a collection of ideas or doctrines jives very well with an amazing author whose work I have just started reading.

If you ever get a chance, I'd like to hear your opinion on the book "Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells" by Matthew Gallatin. It's sort of an amazing book for me in a number of ways, because in many ways the opening chapters are a biography of my own pilgrimage to Christ.

Anyway, if you don't happen to have the handy Taschengeld to buy it, Gallatin strikes some similar chords in his four-part podcast series "Christian Pluralism" which can be found at http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/pilgrims/P35/ and http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/pilgrims/P28/.

Also, as an additional plug to get you to check this out, Gallatin did his graduate work at Gonzaga U. Cheers!

Matt Perkins said...

thanks Ed!