OK. We've spent some time discussing the difference it makes to view life as organic instead of mechanistic. And we've talked about time being more accurately represented as seasonal or cyclical as opposed to linear. So now, let's look at the big picture of what I will call redemptive history or you might think of as the story of the Bible.
Here are a few starter questions:
1. Why is the God of the Old Testament so much different than the revelation of Jesus in the New Testament? (If you don't think there is any difference or that the difference is a minor thing then I would suspect you don't read your Bible very much.)
2. Where does God's justice fit into a theology of grace?
3. Bill Johnson says, "God is in a good mood." Is he always in a good mood? What about the book of Ezekiel when he seems pissed and says quite pointedly, "I will destroy you. . .I will send plagues, war and famine on you to kill you"?
4. Does God intend to punish or judge sin?
The story of humankind is the story of the collision between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdoms of this earth. Let me exlain.
Our story begins with God creating us and putting us in an environment that is an extension of the perfect spiritual realm of heaven. This realm (the garden) was surrounded by a kingdom that needed to be subdued and ruled. Enter our choice to pursue knowledge through someone other than our Father. Our choice to not be exclusive in our intimacy with the Father led to a steady increase of our distance from him as we sought comfort, pleasure, knowledge, etc. from a source other than our Father. This "season" of placing our faith in each other instead of our Father culminates in the story of the Tower of Babel. In our passion to be like God we as humans were becoming very adept at doing things that were pretty impressive by pooling our resources and trusting in each other. God's opinion on what we were accomplishing was that it was leading us away from desiring intimacy with him. So he put a stop to it. As intimacy with the Father decreased, evil increased. As the fruit of our decision to trust in someone other than the Father grew He decided to put an end to it. The flood.
Rewind. Start over. Call a man named Abram out of the nations of the world to birth a new nation, set apart to be exclusively intimate with the Father. As the generations rolled by his people decided to share their allegiance, their intimacy, with other gods. The fruit of this decision was so much evil that God says Israel was doing things that even the pagan world found abominable. Read the prophets. God is angry. He decides in his anger to destroy Israel. Enter the kings of Babylon and Persia. Exit the favor of God on Israel.
A remnant. A tree reduced to a small insignificant root. The root of Jesse (look it up). Jesus is born into poverty in a red-neck village on the frontier of the empire. He teaches that he has not come to judge but to save. Again, we choose to live by faith in Jesus or in someone or something else. This decision of where to place our faith will bear fruit. Apparently their is so much grace in this cycle of redemptive history that sin (all sin) is being forgiven and everyone (I think this means everyone) has the extended opportunity to be intimate with the Father through Jesus.
I see a clear cycle of human history. The Father inserts his presence, his love, his creativity, his desire for intimacy into the world. We, as humans decide where we will live from; where we will place our faith; whether or not we want exclusive (think of it as a monogamous relationship) intimacy with the Father. Our decision then grows, matures and bears fruit. What we have birthed by our decsions then illicits a response from our thoroughly invested, incredibly passionate, looking for loving intimacy Father. Another collision. Another cycle. Another opportunity for humankind to choose intimacy with the Father or not.
I think we find ourselves in a season of grace in the midst of cyclical history. The history of humankind pursued by a God who desperately wants to be exclusively intimate with us.