Sunday, 29 November 2009

Immeasurable Grace

"Creation is the highest act of giving" William Dembski.

It's been a pretty intense month. Amidst extra early morning work shifts, fighting off viruses, and networking through a new local arts group, I've have spent the last fortnight working my way through William Dembski's new work, "The End of Christianity - Finding a Good God in an Evil World", a Theodicy in response to several recent atheist attacks on the relevance of Christianity in the 21st century.

There's plenty here that will trouble Christians - it certainly raised questions for me - as he seeks to reconcile the origins of natural evil through the fall with the "if" of an old creation, seeing the effects of Adam's transgression being applied to the world in the same fashion as Christ's work of redemption - both forward and backward in human history.

Whilst I'm certainly not sold on this approach (though fascinated to study more regarding the distinctions between chronological and kardiological time), it would be entirely wrong to dismiss this work purely on that basis. Mr Dembski entirely embraces the critically central foundation of God as Creator, of a historical fall and of a redemption of the created order through the work and righteousness of Jesus Christ (the first four chapters of the book), and this means that amidst the outworking of his arguments, this work is laden with a rich understanding of the nature of the Godhead and the work of the trinity within our world.

The third section of the work really focuses upon this, looking at how the 'knowledge' of God has invested creation with the Creator's life, hence, our ability to see so much wonder, wisdom and beauty, even in our broken world. Dembski then argues how our own desire to create - to give deeply of ourselves to the benefit of others - stems from that same source. It is because God is at work here and now, that Christ is reconciling the creation to Himself, that Creation "speaks" so deeply to us of Him as His handiwork, granting us that glimpse that beyond the horror of what we now are, there is a sure and certain hope - a world remedied and healed, yet also enhanced by the harvest gleaned through the pain and the sorrow.

As someone seeking to work artistically in this environ, I found much of this aspect of the book deeply true and compelling, allowing insights into the wonder of both God's character and His mercies to us.

"The ultimate expression", writes the author in the final chapter, "of our divine image is to allow ourselves to be moved (by the love of God conveyed in Redemption) to the point of sacrifice, with the motive of moving others to a point of union with... that love".

May our lives indeed share the richness of that 'sweet savor'.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Tumbling Down

Some walls are built on pride
Some keep the child inside
Some walls are made in fear
That love let go will disappear

How will we ever know what might be found
Until we let the walls come tumbling down

Walls by Cara Dillon

The world is filled with them - barriers, gates, fences - a plethora of means designed for one single purpose: to keep things out, and yet, in most cases, such barriers fail. We remain completely naked before a barrage of all manner of possible troubles, within and without,
but we still keep building our walls, outside and in, with stone and cement, and philosophy and vain invention.
What was it the song said:
I've built walls, A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It's laughter and it's loving I disdain.
I am a rock, I am an island.

It's no wonder the next verse begins 'don't talk of love'. Love is the only 'house' where we can truly find a refuge from this pain, and that is because love defines the eternal relationship and actions of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit - love they wish to convey and share with this broken, fenced-up world.

The gospel informs us that in the moment of His death in the crucifixion, the thick, heavy veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom, meaning that the ultimate wall of division between God and Man, the huge chasm made by our rebellion in Eden, had been healed. Because of this, Paul informs us that the wall of division between people, whatever their creed, culture or colour has been removed, and humanity will be made anew in the new man, Jesus Christ.

At a time when so many of our barriers, our troubles, seem insurmountable, be it the crisis of the world, our own family, or just our own hearts, here is our one true hope - a haven in the storm.

The walls are going to fall, soon enough. Embrace that reality, and that day will truly come with joy.