The Goodness of Creation

There is a sneaking suspicion that lurks in the back of most of our minds.
A suspicion that colors the way we look at ourselves as well as the world around us.
Goodness of Creation
It is the suspicion that sin has completely undone the goodness of Creation.
adam and eve by benjamin west
It is the suspicion that sin has broken our world and our bodies so thoroughly that there is nothing left to it but the ugly.
And if we view Creation through these dark lenses, we will treat it with contempt and shame. Even more, we will increasingly view the world, including our own bodies, as though they have nothing at all to do with God.
We will fall in line with our culture’s idea that we can live perfectly well in this world without ever thinking about how to consider with our lives the glorious reality of God’s Creation.
Glory of Creation
Without beginning our salvation story with Creation itself, without including in the gospel the amazingness of God-in-flesh, we are left with a hollow salvation, one that does the bare minimum to get us through the gates rather than one that accomplishes abundance upon abundance of redemption.
When God the Son died and resurrected, He redeemed not just our souls, but our physical bodies and the entire material world around us as well.
Redemption of Creation
The stuff of creation is what God the Son redeems through his becoming flesh, bearing our sin, enduring death, and rising to life. When we have a truncated doctrine of creation, we have a truncated understanding of salvation. ~ Jonathan Wilson, theologian and author of God’s Good World
Romans 8 speaks of creation in the same terms it uses to speak of men. It speaks of creation as waiting to be redeemed, as yearning to be set free from bondage, as groaning as it waits in the exact same way that we groan as we wait for our own redemption.
Yearning of Creation
We groan indeed. We groan as we labor through the pain of childbirth, we groan as we struggle to live life well and fail over and over to obey, we groan as we age and approach death.
We are a part of Creation and we groan and wait and hope right along with all of this material world for the return of Christ and for the redemption and perfection of all that we know.
And we would be a bit more successful in living our lives more beautifully if we would continue to consider the ways in which Creation should guide us toward or away from different patterns of life.
Guidance of Creation
The glories of Creation and the ways in which God continues to interact with Creation have the possibility of helping us to understand how a “well-ordered life in the body presents opportunities for glorifying God and enjoying Him forever by participating more fully in the glorious giftedness of Creation”. (Ken Meyers of Mars Hill Audio Journal)
There is not room in a blog to explore such huge ideas in any depth at all. I only hope to spur on thought and seeking and exploring. Share with me what God shows you?

Art credit: The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise by Benjamin West


Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness; He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.  ~ I Timothy 3.16
In a world of science and proofs and self-evident truths, we serve a God of mystery.
We claim to know God, to understand His character, but the truth is that our God is unknowable.  Even as we speak what we know to be true about God, we do not understand how those truths work, how they relate to God, how they fit together.
There are words in the Bible, stories and descriptions about God that make me uncomfortable.  Verses and paragraphs I would rather push aside or gloss over because I do not know how to explain them.
Our churches train us to prove, to argue, to set forth evidence for God.  They train us to thoroughly explain His character, to make rational aspects of His works.
Yet our churches are trained by our culture.  Our culture that says that knowledge is power.  It says that what is worth anything is knowable, what is valued is quantifiable.
…the important truths, that knowledge is power, that knowledge is safety, and that knowledge is happiness.  ~ Thomas Jefferson
As children, we understood that there was mystery in our world and it stirred and excited something deep within us.  As adults, we become knowers, seeking to understand all things.
Childhood is motivated by wonder, and the task of adulthood is not to eliminate wonder but to expand it.  ~ Ken Myers
Colors in a leaf
Scenic view
Some find the idea of mystery frightening, wanting to know and to understand.  Don’t we know God as revealed in His Word and in Christ?
Our attempt to speak confidently of God in the face of modern skepticism, a skepticism we suspect also grips our lives as Christians, betrays a certainty inappropriate for a people who worship a crucified God.  ~ Stanley Hauerwas
Yes, we know God and we know things about God.  Knowing, however, means more than just intellect.  It is much deeper than that.  The full revelation of God does not make us want to list the things we know, to produce a dissertation full of facts about God.
Rather, the full revelation of God makes us want to bow in worship of the One who is mystery.
Art credits: photographs of space from NASA; DNA strand by Tomislav Alajbeg

Is Christianity Good?

I was listening to my Mars Hill Audio Journal recently when I heard one of the guests claim that the current question about faith for the younger generation (ages 18-35) has moved from Is Christianity true? to Is Christianity good?
Creation of Adam
I am on the upper end of this demographic and this claim at first struck me as false.  After all, much of my youth, especially in high school and college, was spent learning apologetics, learning how to prove to everyone around me that Christianity was true.
Chris Chrisman
(This book not particularly recommended!)
We’ll ignore the fact that most people turn to Jesus because of a friend who lived Jesus rather than because of a stranger who argued Jesus.  I was taught all of the classic defenses and I read all of the classic books: Mere Christianity, A Case for Christ, etc.
None of this is bad.  It is wise to know whether or not your faith is true, to know whether it is intellectually probable.  It would be foolish to “believe” solely because you were raised that way.  The question of whether or not Christianity is good simply never occurred to me.
Yet the more I thought about it, the more I think that perhaps this claim is, after all, true, at least to some degree.  Even beyond the question of whether Jesus is necessary (if you persist in believing that you are not “that bad” then you will not believe that you need such an ultimate sacrifice as the cross), if you believe that human dignity and human good are based on human freedom, and if you believe that freedom is synonymous with autonomy, than Christianity is emphatically not good.
Christianity speaks much about submission, about losing your life, about obedience, and these words sound oppressive in light of what most believe about personal freedom.  Yet any thoughtful person knows when it is articulated clearly that limits are good, that complete autonomy for every individual leads to unsustainable living conditions.
After all, limits provide constraints, but they also provide direction and therefore opportunities.  Leon Kass, an American physician, scientist, and educator, pointed out that gravity is a form of limit but without it we could not dance.
Many of us who follow Christ try to retool the Bible to fit what modern culture has taught us is good.  We want to make Jesus less about submission and more about social justice.
I think most of us do doubt at times whether Christianity is truly good, wondering whether freedom might be a better path.  After all, our culture has taught us that the ability to make all of our own choices is more important than the quality of any of those choices.  Our own Supreme Court has stated that “at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life”.  (Planned Parenthood vs Casey, 1992)
Christ's Freedom
If we can pause for a moment, however, and remember that freedom is not the same as autonomy, then the gospel begins again to become good news rather than being burdensome and dictatorial.
If we can remember that freedom means being who we truly are, being who we were created to be, even being allowed to participate in the Being of our Triune God, than God’s way of submission becomes the way of love rather than the way of oppression. God’s path of obedience becomes the path to becoming our true selves, free from all of the appetites and desires that threaten to enslave us.
Thus the answer to the question “Is Christianity good?” is an emphatic yes.  But only if we step back from our culture’s definition of freedom and move back to a truer definition.  A definition that replaces our autonomy with our very truest selves.
I know which one I would rather have.
What have you found in your relationships? Do people care more about whether Christianity is true or whether it is good?
Art Credits: Creation of Adam by Michelangelo Buonarroti; photo of chains by Javier Gonzalez; photo of Christ by Asta Rastauskiene

Beautiful Law

I think a lot about rules and law these days.
Why? I have a preschooler and a toddler in the house.
To them, law is restrictive, constraining, unpleasant.
As I consider how to teach them to obey, I am, once again, brought up short and shamed by the deep places inside of me.
The deep places that agree with my preschooler and my toddler.
I, too, see rules as unpleasant. I sometimes feel constrained by the laws of God.
angry at the law
I have thought about this before, the idea that living under God’s authority gives me the freedom to be truly myself, to be who God created me to be.
Yet I still disobey. I still think of myself as better than others. I still yell in anger at those I love. I still struggle with wanting to spend all day reading rather than taking care of my responsibilities.
Why is this so difficult? Why do I view God’s laws as restrictive?
I search God’s Words as I am searching my own heart, and I read David’s words in the Psalms:
My soul is consumed with longing for Your laws at all times.
The law from Your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.
Oh, how I love Your law! I meditate on it all day long.
When I am honest with myself, my difficulty is that I don’t truly believe God. I don’t believe that His way is better, that obeying Him will bring me happiness.
I continually choose my own way and am always disappointed.
While I contemplate this striving, I hear an interview with Gerald McDermott on my Mars Hill Audio Journal, discussing these very ideas, discussing the beauty of law.
McDermott is discussing Jonathan Edwards’ views on God’s laws when he speaks about the beauty of the Triune God who loves His human creation with deep father love, Who wants us to be able to participate in His Being (which is, in itself, astounding and worthy of much more searching and study and writing!). The way that we do this, the way that we are able to participate in the Being of this Triune God is to live the way that God lives.
The way that we do that? We live the way that God lives when we live by His laws, by His teachings, in His ways.
This turns everything upside down and over around on its head. Are you as astonished as I am?
I can live the way that God lives.
If God has given us His law so that we can live like Him, so that we can participate in His Being, then I can no longer view that law as unpleasant or constraining. God is simply giving us the ways that will bring us the deepest, most lasting sort of happiness. God’s law is beautiful!
God gave them other rules…The rules showed God’s people how to live, and how to be close to Him, and how to be happy. They showed how life worked best. ~ The Jesus Storybook Bible
Teach me, Abba, how to obey. Teach me to believe that Your law is beautiful, that living in Your ways will bring me happiness and will help me to be more fully myself.
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law.

Slinging Mashed Potatoes

My eldest has had trouble loving her sister lately.

When she gets angry, even if it is with herself, her first instinct is to lash out and hurt Little Sister. We’ve been working on this, trying to teach her other ways of expressing her anger, but it is a long and difficult road. She seems to lose all common sense when her emotions run high.

Sadly, this reminds me all too much of the adults in our country this time of year.

Ah, election season.

Time for everyone to lose logic and common sense and to begin slinging hateful words around like mashed potatoes in a junior high camp cafeteria.

I have been wondering how we got to this place. How did we get to the place where it seems impossible to have a compassionate discussion of ideas?

In my most recent Mars Hill Audio Journal, it was suggested that this has become part of our culture because of the direction that our public schools have taken.  When we emphasize math and science to the exclusion of teaching ethics and civics and philosophy, our citizens grow up without knowing about logic, without knowing how to follow an idea through to its logical conclusion.

Here is a clip of one of my favorite authors, N.T. Wright, speaking about the problem that we don’t even have the debate but rather have bits and pieces of a shouting match (if you are viewing this via email/in a reader, click here to view this video):


I can see, having been a teacher myself, how cutting logic and philosophy out of schools would appeal. It is much easier to control the flow of ideas than to teach people to think for themselves. (I am not proposing that this has been a deliberate conspiracy against free thinking in our country, rather that this has been the unintended consequence of placing a higher value on sciences than humanities. It simply helps the cause that the things that are cut out are subjects that tend to make governing more difficult.)

As I thought about how we got to this place, though, and as I listened to respected leaders speak about this issue, I realized that this is not a new problem, this problem of not teaching young people to think for themselves, of not teaching children how to think logically about an idea and spot the fallacies contained within.

In the 14th century, John Wycliffe was one of the first advocates for translating the Bible from Latin, a language that only priests and rulers could read, into the common language, accessible to all. The leaders of his day violently opposed him, wanting to keep the power of ideas to themselves. Wycliffe’s opponents cried out, “The jewel of the clergy has become the toy of the laity”. In the end, Wycliffe was declared to be a heretic and his body was exhumed and burned, and the ashes were scattered.

As much as I would like to swell with indignation at the thought of trying to control ideas, if I am honest with myself, I can relate. It is difficult for me to trust my own children. I want to control the flow of ideas, to control what they know and understand. This would be much easier than teaching them to think critically and then dealing with the inevitable hard questions that will come.

Thankfully, I know better. God has instructed me to trust. Not other people, but Him. I must trust His Spirit inside my children.

So I will continually ask for help in relinquishing control. I will trust my girls to the care of God’s Spirit and trust that He will show them what is good.

As for our country, our election season, let us be the first to use logic and common sense, to show compassion to those with whom we disagree, and trust in God’s plan and His Spirit working rather than taking the easier route of slinging mashed potatoes all over their faces.

Art Credits: Vote photo by woodsy; photos of N.T. Wright and Wycliffe stained glass from Wikipedia images

Our Sacred Imagination (part two)

Could we continue the conversation about making our imaginations sacred?

I love the idea of nurturing my children’s imaginations to be used for God. 

Imagination is beautiful. The way in which we use our imagination makes it sacred.

I was reading Isaiah 6, the chapter in which Isaiah receives his call from God, and I saw something I hadn’t noticed before. 

Before Isaiah gives his famous plea, “Here am I. Send me!”, even before God calls for someone to go for Him, Isaiah is given a vision of God on His throne.

I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of His robe filled the temple.

Do you see it?

The vision preceded the call.

The vision of God is what changed Isaiah, what inspired him to take on the enormously difficult task of delivering God’s message.

Vision requires imagination. Sacred imagination.

Too often we want to go straight to the take-away, straight to our to-do list.

Instead, perhaps we should pause. Let God inspire us and change our hearts by filling our imaginations with a vision of Him.

Have you heard of lectio divina? I heard it mentioned in a Mars Hill interview recently, so I started digging for information.

It is the practice of Scripture reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God’s Living Word. It was practiced by church fathers such as Ambrose and Augustine.

Meditative contemplation. Find a quiet space and something on which to focus. Scripture, something visual like nature or art, anything will do.

Contemplate God. Let the vision of who God is fill up your imagination. It is only the glimpse of the glory of God that can truly change us and give us what we need to fulfill whatever task has been asked of us.

God makes sacred our imaginations by filling us with a glimpse of Himself that changes us forever.

…among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. ~ Revelation 1 

…there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne…From the throne came flashes of lightening, rumblings and peals of thunder…”Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come”…They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” ~ Revelation 4

art credits: St. Augustine by Sandro Botticelli; Nebula by Dez Pain

In Christ All Things Hold Together

I think about God’s creation quite frequently this time of year.

The trees are aflame, the air is crisp and cool, and we are watching our farmer neighbors harvesting the fields.

I’ve also been thinking about Colossians 1

For by him (Christ) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

I’ve especially been thinking about that last phrase: in Him all things hold together.

I look up the verb for “hold together” in my Strong’s and find that it is “sunistao” or ” sunistemi” which has connotations of “strengthened…to set together…to stand with”. 

It is a present tense verb: Christ is currently and actively holding all things together.

I am intrigued and try to consider this idea more thoroughly.

I tend to view creation as neutral, as separate from heaven. I often see creation as something that points to God but not as something that participates with God. 

I think that many people see creation as having been made or set into motion by God but now is on its own. 

In Him all things hold together.

I often hear people talk about having a Christian perspective on creation, especially when conversing about the need to care for the earth. Even that sort of language implies that creation is neutral and needs for Christ-followers to imbue it with godly meaning.

Yet if Christ is right now holding all things together, then perhaps that means that there is something deeper, something sacred behind all created things.

According to Hans Boersma in a recent Mars Hill Audio Journal interview, that is certainly what Christians believed for more than a millennium after Christ:  Just as you wouldn’t simply read the text of the Bible without seeking something deeper, something sacred behind the words, you shouldn’t simply look at creation without seeking something sacred behind the created thing. 

Just as Christ is the logos, the Word of God, that is behind the Holy Words of Scripture, so, according to Colossians 1, Christ is also behind the created world, holding all things together.

I am only a stay-at-home mommy. I don’t pretend to know a whole lot. 

I do know that modernity has enlightened us to many realities about the world around us. 

Perhaps, just perhaps, it has blinded us to some of the deeper realities as well.

Would you continue the conversation in the comments below? What do you think? Is there something deeper and sacred behind created things or is creation now neutral, only pointing to God rather than right now participating with God in its renewal?

Freedom Under Authority

I did it again.

I yelled with anger at my daughter.

She was not obeying.

Neither was I.

I’ve spoken before about the difficulty of obedience. Could we explore this a little further?

Part of the trouble, I think, is that we have come to view authority with suspicion. We see authority, even the authority of the Church, as being heavy-handed and suppressing. We think that authority keeps us from being truly free, keeps us from being the person we were meant to be.

I was listening to my Mars Hill last week and heard an interview with Victor Lee Austin, the author of Up With Authority, who suggests that we need authority in order to flourish as human beings.

He uses the image of a cellist in an orchestra. There are many pieces of music written for cellists that we can enjoy listening to, but that is only a small piece of what a cellist can do. For the cellist to flourish, for her to be more fully herself, she needs something bigger. For something bigger to exist, we need authority…the conductor. 

Authority, instead of crushing freedom (although unrighteous authority certainly can do that), enables and increases freedom. The more involved we are in complex society, the more we need authority making the decisions. Having true authority increases the “ability for persons to act in concert for good that can be achieved by corporate action”. 

Back to the orchestra for a moment: Austin says that “the conductor is drawing the cellist forward into a place where she can be more fully herself, which she didn’t necessarily see beforehand and that is through what happens as the orchestra plays”. 

If I could trust the authority of God enough to obey Him, I would become more myself, more free, more able to work for God’s glory and the good of those around me. 

Which leads me to the biggest reason I don’t obey: I don’t believe God.

That sounds horrid when I say it out loud, but it is true. If I truly believed that God’s way of love was better than Satan’s way of unrighteous anger, that it was more effective, I would show my daughters love rather than rage.

I have been reading Psalm 119 this week and was struck by the psalmist’s eagerness, almost desperation, to obey God:

vs 5-6: Oh, that my ways were steadfast when obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.

vs 10-11: I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

vs 15-16: I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

vs 20: My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.

vs 33-34: Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.

vs 45: I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.

This goes on for 176 verses! 

I want so much to desire obedience with such fervor. But how?

I notice two things. 

I notice that David spends much of his time in beseeching God to help him obey.  

I notice that a delight in obedience seems to begin with a delight in God’s words, an immersion in the words of God.


God must change my heart to desire obedience, to desire Him.

In the book, Radical, by David Platt, I recently read this: 

The fruit of our salvation…is indeed a gracious gift from God.

I can’t even want to obey God, much less actually obey, without His gracious help.

In order for God to change my heart, I must steep myself in His words. 

If I meditate on His words, if I refuse to neglect His words, God will help my heart to begin to believe His promises.

Will you hide His word in your heart along with me? I am memorizing verses 33-34 this week: 

Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.

Will you join me in memorizing this and praying it to God this next week? What might He do in our hearts?

One last thing I noticed?

Seeking out God’s precepts results in the ability to walk about in freedom. 

God’s authority, His laws, gives us the freedom to truly be ourselves!

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.

~ Will you go here for one more thing to read about the importance of memorizing the Bible?

The Wonder of Learning

She’s heading off to preschool this week.

This eldest child of mine, so full of excitement and curiosity, is beginning her journey of learning.

Although I suppose she’s not just beginning, is she? She’s been learning since the moment she first entered this amazing world.

This thought makes me wonder about the idea of learning. If all of our life is to be made sacred, one seamless piece of fabric that is woven around God, how should learning fit in?

I am reminded of wisdom I read recently: 
Education is the atmosphere we breathe, the envelope of wonder that surrounds us, held by the gravity of our daily habits. ~ Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience

Is this learning? Simply being in awe of God’s world, desiring to discover as much of it as we can? Perhaps if we remain in awe of God, we naturally gain a zest for learning. Perhaps if we possess that sense of wonder, we become a “creative, thinking, exuberant person who spills with the joy of learning” (also Ann Voskamp).

It seems, as I explore what learning should be and as I re-visit my thoughts about all things being sacred in our daily lives and in the world around us, that learning is, at least in part, simply staying awake in the moment. It is exploring, being curious, holding tightly to that sense of wonder in God and His handiwork.

If so, than learning should happen in every moment rather than being confined to certain hours of schooling. Are the lines that we draw between school and the rest of our lives artificial and wrong?

This idea fits in with other things about which I have pondered. The entire fabric of our lives should be sacred, seamless, one piece woven around praising and thanking our God. 
For in Him we live and move and have our being. ~ Acts 17.28

Earth is crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit around it, and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware
More and more, from the first similitude. 
~Elizabeth Barret Browning

My latest issue of Mars Hill Audio Journal arrived this week and caused me to wonder if they had anything to say about learning and knowledge. I found an essay by Ken Meyers in which he speaks of universities and discusses the importance of knowledge to our faith:
We can begin by regularly reminding ourselves that the God who saves us is the God who made us and all things, that our message of redemption only makes sense in the context of the bigger story about creation. Our God cares about all aspects of our lives, and thus the renewing of our minds is as needful as the cleansing of our hearts.

He also says this: 
Loving God and neighbor requires knowledge of the truth about God and the truth about the many challenges and opportunities of human experience in the world God has made.

The importance of knowledge to our faith is something we as a church don’t seem to talk about very much.

In fact, as I think more about it, knowledge and faith often seem to be held up by the church as incompatible or, at the very least, two very separate things, with faith being the essential piece to our salvation.

While I am thinking through these things, our Sunday class (does anyone call it Sunday School anymore?) is studying II Peter.

Our teacher points out that Peter seems to say that knowledge is essential to our faith. Through knowledge of God we have grace and peace. Through knowledge of God we have everything we need for life and godliness. Knowledge sits right between goodness and self-control in Peter’s list of important qualities to seek.

But what sort of knowledge? What does Peter mean by this word?

I dive into my Strong’s.

Oh. There are two different words used in this first chapter of II Peter.

The first one, the word that gives us grace, peace, everything we need, is epignosis (precise/correct knowledge) which is related to epiginosko (to become thoroughly acquainted with, to know thoroughly, to perceive who a person is).

Relationship knowledge.

The second word, the word that Peter urges us to add to our faith along with goodness, self-control, perseverance  godliness, brotherly kindness and love? This word is gnosis (general intelligence, understanding, implying science).

Creation knowledge.


Once again, all is related, all is woven together into one beautiful, seamless fabric.

Learning, gaining knowledge, is a large part of how we weave the various parts of our lives together into a seamless, sacred whole. Not something to be relegated to school-type hours.

We seek for epignosis, to become thoroughly acquainted with God, so that we may have everything we need for life and godliness.

We seek for gnosis, general understanding about the world He has created, so that we may keep from being ineffective and unproductive in our epignosis of our Lord Jesus Christ.

May we remain in awe of God and retain our sense of wonder in the world (including its creatures, human and otherwise) He has created.  May we continue to pursue knowledge in every moment of our daily lives and turn that knowledge into praise and thanksgiving, into loving of all those around us.

art credit: Elizabeth Barrett Browning; Christ in the House of Martha and Mary by Johannes Vermeer 


May we continue the conversation?

If our daily lives are to be centered around Christ, if we are to build physical reminders of Jesus into our daily routines, if all that we are and all that we do is to be made sacred, then how does that idea expand to include the world around us? Is the world around us, the culture in which we live, also to be made sacred?

I read “Resounding Truth” and ponder this:

This book is concerned with…gaining theological discernment about music…It is concerned with how God’s truth might “sound” and “re-sound” in the world of music.

My mind begins to whirl. Should I attempt to view music through a godly perspective? Even purely instrumental music? If in this, than in what other realms should we have a godly worldview?

Literature? Politics? Art? Philosophy? Science? Technology?
Should everything be interpreted through a God-window?

I suppose that there is nothing outside of the lordship of Jesus.

I think through this a little more.

Are we asked to view everything in our world through a godly framework? Are we called by God to actively think through issues in our world, to read and listen, pray and ponder the things in our culture that are relevant in the world?

It would certainly be easier to stay focused only on my home, my daily routine.

Easier, however, is not generally what God calls us to pursue.

Paul says in Colossions 3.17:

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks for God the Father through Him.

Whatever you do. This certainly reinforces my thoughts about consciously bringing God into my daily life. This doesn’t, however, necessarily translate to God asking us to actively pursue an understanding of and engagement with our culture.

I continue to wonder and seek God in this as I move through my day.

I sit at the computer and see that I have received my Mars Hill Audio Journal in my in-box.

Mars Hill’s stated purpose is to help Christians thoughtfully engage their culture.

They make the argument (rightfully, I believe) that a layer of “Love your neighbor as yourself” is to

pay careful attention to the neighborhood: that is, every sphere of human life where God is either glorified or despised, where neighbors are either edified or undermined. Therefore, living as disciples of Christ pertains not just to prayer, evangelism, and Bible study, but also our enjoyment of literature and music, our use of tools and machines, our eating and drinking, our views on government and economics, and so on.

Considering a godly perspective on technology and economics is a newer idea for me.

Paul certainly engaged the culture when he spent time in the marketplace in Athens, listening to and speaking with the philosophers of the day. (Acts 17)

As artists, my friend Kati and I have discussed this issue from the perspective of making quality art and engaging the artistic community where they are in order that art may be pervaded by Christ.

Should there be any realm of human endeavor that is not pervaded by Christ?

The host of Mars Hill says it this way:

But it is nonetheless imperative for us to be active in the culture, not because we are saved, but because we are created. Pursuing an understanding of and engagement with our culture is necessary for Christians because we must first bow to God as Creator, to thank him for the goodness that remains in his fallen creation, to live creatively, that is, in keeping with the patterns and norms he has established for creation, even as we eagerly await the advent of a new creation.

Meanwhile, life in this created sphere has meaning and value. God bestows blessings even on the unrighteous. He gives wonderful talents and abilities to those who hate the mention of his name. These blessings are what we mean by common grace: the gratuitous gifts to the just and the unjust that sustain and enrich the life shared by the wheat and the tares.

C.S. Lewis also argues that God asks us to bring Him into all branches of human thought:

If all the world were Christian, it might not matter if all the world were uneducated. But, as it is, a cultural life will exist outside the church whether it exists inside or not. To be ignorant and simple now–not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground–would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered. The cool intellect must work not only against cool intellect on the other side, but against the muddy heathen mysticisms which deny intellect altogether.

I must conclude that God does, indeed, ask us to actively pursue an understanding of and engagement with our culture. As I pursue this idea of holistic living, of considering everything to be made sacred, I must go beyond the walls of my home, beyond the walls of my church.

I will keep reading and listening, praying and pondering.

Will you continue the conversation?

If you want a bit of Further Reading on this, here are two essays:
Christianity, Culture and Modern Grace
Christianity and Culture