Is that so?
Our first Integral Mission Conversation of 2015 has just finished. We spent the week in Pakistan.
Speaking with some people gathering for the Conversation and discussing security, one person said to me we should not worry about the situation in the world as the day set for us to enter the grave is unavoidable.
Is that so? Such a statement is loaded with another fundamental question – are we really free? Do we have total freedom to choose how we live life, or are some things (for example when we die, whether we will become Christians or not, whether we marry or not etc.) already decided by God?
On my flight to Pakistan I sat next to a man who was from Iran and we got talking about God. He said to me that he believed God honoured us when we honoured him, but punished us when we forgot him and did things that were wrong.
Is that so? Such a belief would impact how I viewed and related to God. It would mean I would only honour God to avoid him becoming angry with me. And if something painful happened to me, I would see this as me getting punished for either not behaving or not giving God sufficient attention. What does this say about my understanding of the character of God and about the type of relationship I expect from him?
Sitting around the table with friends we discussed the news and looked at some of the recent tragedies. The attack in Paris, the attacks in Nigeria, the attacks in Iraq, Ukraine……. and so on. Then one person in the group added, yes, but these are the signs of the end times, so it’s ok – it’s what the Bible says. We should not worry as God is in control.
Is that so? Do we just see the news as fatalism? All this must happen, so nothing we do can stop it or change it. Indeed, if I take this to its logical conclusion then actually if I step back and don’t interfere perhaps Jesus will come back sooner as more disasters equals more signs of his imminent return!
Where does redemption, salvation, restoration, liberation, transformation, new creation and the Kingdom of God fit into all of this?
God loves us, his whole creation, every person and every part of his creation. His love is revealed throughout the ages and in particular through Jesus Christ. When John the Baptist doubted this, Jesus reassured him that the evidence of his love, the evidence that God was present was that people were being healed, even raised from the dead and that the Good News was being preached to the poor (Matthew 11:2-6).
May 2015 be a year when we dare to ask the question “is that so”? What we believe impacts how we live. Let’s go back to the basics and explore the character of God as expressed through Jesus. May that be the lens with which we look at news, through which we wrestle with the tough questions of life. Here we will find the Giver of Life, the one who sets us free, the Restorer, the Healer, our Saviour and Lord. Then the only question is – how do we respond?
Lord may we choose obedience and follow you.