Reaching into Redemption Meditations: 60. The path behind us
2 Pet 1:12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.
2 Pet 3:1 Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.
A Long Way: We have travelled a long way with this set of studies and so with Peter (see above) we perhaps need to do a ‘reminder study’ before we come to the very last ones in this series. I don’t know if you have ever gone walking over hills and valleys, and paused to look back at the wonder of where you have been that has enabled you to arrive where you are? I often encourage people to do this with their life story, to write down the key things that have happened in your life. I started doing it several years ago, using old diaries to pick up the highlights of the life that my wife and I have lived together – but I gave up. Then by accident a year or so back I came across it and started again and ended up producing a little ten-page booklet of our history together. It was worth the effort and it has given us grounds to praise and thank the Lord for what He has done in our lives – and it has strengthened us in our love and our resolves for today. So where have we been in this series and what has it shown us?
Imperfect men of the Old Testament: After the two introductory studies, the next twelve were about key men of the Old Testament, all of them with feet of clay who got it wrong somehow. Yet they were men with whom God persisted. We saw their failures and we saw God’s discipline in their lives. God loves and accepts and keeps on with us, but He does discipline is to keep us on the right track. Our sins may not annul our eternal destiny, but they will have consequences which God allows to act as corrective discipline in our lives, into which He continues to work.
Continuing with Israel: We then had six studies in respect of how God redeemed Israel as a nation. The more I read the Old Testament, the more I find the failures of Israel stand out, but the more I see that, the more I wonder at a God who persisted with this foolish people (who are just like the rest of the world despite their relationship with God) and kept on persisting to bring about what I called a ‘God-environment’ into which to bring His Son two thousand years ago. Then we saw a little over eighteen hundred years when Israel were dissolved into the world before being brought back into the open last century. God has not finished with them. Amazing.
Godly Apostles: We followed this with four quick observations of Peter, Paul and John, seeing how the same ongoing redemptive process worked in all three of these giants from the New Testament. Yes, each one of them flawed, but each one of them being molded by the Master Potter with amazing results. Again the ongoing working of God in godless men to make them godly.
Fundamentals: We continued with nine studies, three sets of three, to focus our thinking on what we have been delivered from, what we are being delivered to, and the essentials or basics of what redemption is all about. We need to keep on doing that.
Modern life problems: In part 6, in thirteen studies, uncomfortable studies, we considered some of the struggles within western nations with gender distinctions and relational breakdowns. These are no doubt things we would prefer to not think about (and simply stay in the safe waters of basic Bible Study) but if Scripture doesn’t speak to these things then we might ask what relevance does it have to life today? Our call was to be open, understanding and compassionate in respect of those who are struggling with these issues in our world today. The Pharisees would have legalistically written them off; Jesus seeks to redeem them.
Culture Problems: In part 7, in nine studies, we faced some of the primary problems that we in the twenty first century culture struggle with, things that threaten to overwhelm us, things that appear to drown us, things that challenge whether all this talk about ongoing redemption has any validity in the face of these threats. They are things that not only intimidate us, they intimidate most people, but we should be the best equipped to handle them. They are simply developments of a fast-changing technological world, things that can bless us or curse us. Understanding them puts them in perspective and helps us see the world with its good and bad in which we find ourselves, the arena in which God continues to work out His redemptive purposes in us.
Be Positive in the Face of Failure: Thus we arrive at the finale where we stand on our present hillside and look back. We yesterday started this ‘finale’ by seeking to be positive about the changes of this most remarkable world in which we live, a world that God made, and into which He brings revelation, knowledge, understanding and much more, to enable us human beings to improve this world with technology. Yes, as history has already shown us, we have a penchant for getting it wrong and for misusing what we have been given (not realizing that it is a gift we have been given by the Creator). We who are God’s people and who have His revelation and wisdom, should be the best equipped to understand what is going on in the world, and thus we need to learn how we can earn the right to speak into it, as we work out our twofold mandate of bringing people to Christ and transforming society, being salt and light – purifiers and life-bringers.
The call: The call was to approach this positively in an attitude of faith looking to bring the love and goodness of God to His world. There is a sense whereby He seeks to redeem this world, continuing to develop it for the good of mankind, and yet the sinfulness of mankind only turns its back on Him and refuses to believe in His goodness. Thus they pursue paths that are not only self-serving but also destructive. Our call is to resist these things with all of His grace, wisdom and truth, and that process in us, is still part of His redeeming work in each of us. Left to ourselves, we would probably prefer to sit back and ignore the world and simply enjoy our little part of it; so much easier. Yet His call is for us to be salt and light and that means effort and involvement, and for that we need all of His grace.
Life Transformation: As He brings that and involves us, so we are changed and when we get to heaven, if he allows us to look back from His perspective and observe our lives, seeing where we came from, how we handled the path, how we changed, and how we were transformed, I believe we will marvel, we will gasp at the wonder of it all. For now we only see as through a dark glass or in a dirty mirror (1 Cor 13:12) and so we struggle to understand our part in this incredible redemptive work of God that continues right up to this second and on into eternity. Throughout these studies, I felt myself mind-blown with the wonder of God’s ongoing process in us fallible and so often failing human beings. It continues in a world that is as dramatically different today from four thousand years ago as chalk is from cheese, and yet it does not change. His goal? To deliver us from a godless way of thinking and living into a godly way of thinking and living. He never changes, His purposes never change, but His work is to bring changes in us to make us something more than we are today. Our part is to be aware of it (hence this series) and to cooperate with Him in it. May it be so.