Which church is the true church?

A note to my readers:

Life has been hectic, but a good kind of hectic, with a fruitful teaching trip to Zimbabwe last weekend.  My weekly Saturday blog did not happen, but I’m pleased in its place this week to reproduce for your enrichment a short essay from my friend, Edward Fudge.

We’ll see you again next Saturday.

– Greg

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“The right true church, part 2″ – by Edward Fudge – from his gracEmail of July 26,  2015

EdFudge1The year 1054 is remembered in church history as the year Pope Leo IX excommunicated Patriarch Michael Cerularius of Constantinople and declared himself head of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Patriarch responded in kind and the Great Schism was under way, thereafter with East (Constantinople) and West (Rome) both contending for primacy as head of the exclusive true church. The Reformers promised the right of individual biblical interpretation, which in turn brought a multiplicity of churches. Soon, Protestantism had its own contenders for “the true church.”

Most cults claim to be God’s only true or faithful people. Mormons teach that the true Church went into apostasy shortly after the original Apostles died, but that God restored it about 1830 through the prophetic ministry of Joseph Smith, Jr. Mr. Smith is said to have translated the Book of Mormon from ancient inscriptions on gold plates under instructions from an angel named Moroni. Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that Jesus returned to earth invisibly in 1914 and set up his kingdom, with their Watchtower Society as its visible form.

The Philadelphia Church of God is but one of several offshoots of the Worldwide Church of God which claims that it alone represents God’s “government” (and New Testament Church) today, based on the unique doctrines of the late Herbert W. Armstrong whom they see as the last-days “Elijah the Prophet” of Old Testament prophecy. (Happily, the original Worldwide Church of God has denounced its cultic past and has udergone a Christ-centered reformation of its own.)

Amid all these confusing and contradicting claims, we do well to remember Jesus’ warnings concerning would-be messiahs. We do not need to go running here or there in search of the “true teacher” or the “true church.” The Bible does not envision “Lone Ranger” Christians who intentionally avoid fellowship with others. But while “church” is very important, no particular brand in the Yellow Pages has any exclusive claims on God or his salvation. Jesus — not any religious institution or ecclesiastical organization — is the door to the Father. Whoever has Jesus has life, and whoever remains in union with him is complete in the eyes of God.

 

 

Exposing the prosperity Gospel heresy

woodbridgeHeresy (false teaching) often arises when one aspect of the truth is emphasized so much – or tweaked in such a way – that other counter-balancing truths disappear. When it comes to the so-called prosperity Gospel, that truth is simple:

God cares for you.

Jesus certainly teaches this in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). We are of more value to God than the lilies of the field or the birds of the air.

Yet while Jesus talks about basic provision, preachers of the prosperity message go beyond needs to desires. In so doing, they shift the center away from God, putting humans and our wants and wishes for success and wealth at the center. In the end, it is no longer Gospel – good news – but for those disillusioned by its unfulfilled promises, it is bad news, a modified strain of Christian faith that leaves little room for sin, repentance, the Cross, or the place of hardship and suffering in the Christian life.

This is the most important take-away from David Jones’ and Russell Woodbridge’s Health, Wealth & Happiness: Has the Prosperity Gospel Overshadowed the Gospel of Christ? (Kregel, 2011; Kindle edition). The authors identify their subject:

This gospel has been given many names, such as the “name it and claim it” gospel, the “blab it and grab it” gospel, the “health and wealth” gospel, the “word of faith” movement, the “gospel of success,” “positive confession theology,”and, as this book will refer to it, the “prosperity gospel.” No matter what name is used, the teaching is the same. This egocentric gospel teaches that God wants believers to be materially prosperous in the here-and-now (location 118, italics added).

Particularly enlightening was chapter 1. There, Jones and Woodbridge summarize the teachings of the  New Thought Movement. New Thought gained some popularity in U.S. in the late 19th century and first half of the 20th century. Its proponents included Emanuel Phineas Quimby, Ralph Waldo Trine and Norman Vincent Peale (among others). Explaining what the authors call the “five pillars” of New Thought – a distorted view of God, elevation of mind over matter, exalted view of humankind, focus on health/wealth, and a unorthodox view of salvation – the authors make a convincing case that today’s prosperity preachers have recycled many of New Thought’s dubious ideas, including the importance of speaking words to make things come to be. This seems dangerously close to the use of magical incantations.

Though the authors are unafraid to critique the teaching of prosperity preachers – Joel Osteen receives special scrutiny – I appreciated that the book did more than just point out what is wrong with the prosperity message. In the second half of the book, they construct a positive and biblical alternative, including an excellent chapter on the biblical theology of giving.

There are ways in which the book left me unsatisfied. While Jones and Woodbridge rightly debunk the misinterpretation of the “by his wounds you have been healed” slogan (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24 – see location 720), this overlooks that there is a legitimate doctrine of divine healing in Scripture expounded in passages like James 5. Since the word “health” appears in the title of their book, the reader is justified in expecting at least a few more pages to present a more balanced and comprehensive biblical view of the issue. Unfortunately, what they did well when it comes to giving they fail to attempt on the question of health.

A second unquestioned assumption is that all pastors are male. An example of this gender bias appears at location 1708: “An elder or pastor can reasonably expect support from the church that he serves.” Since the authors are from a Baptist background, at one level, their word choice is unsurprising since many Baptists reject the ordination of women. However, a little effort could have avoided this distraction by choosing gender-neutral wording, i.e. “A elder or pastor can reasonably expect congregational support.”  Since the authors are sensitive to the use of gender-inclusive language elsewhere in the book, including the use of the word “humankind” instead of “man” (locations 178, 187, 306), one wishes they had been consistent.

The prosperity message is not just a North American phenomenon but has gained traction elsewhere in the world, including across Africa, introducing an incomplete and shallow version of Christian faith. As diseases like Ebola have ravaged parts of West Africa, one church leader on the ground observed that prosperity teachers have been notably silent. Is this because their message cannot stand up under the sobering realities of pain and suffering? Health, Wealth and Happiness is a well-written book that will open the eyes of many around the world who have bought into a skewed and superficial prosperity message that – though alluring – offers little comfort in the crucible of life.

Forgive us, Lord, for we have sinned!

droughtThey’re triumphant words, a hymn I sang often as a child on Sunday nights:

‘Tis a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle, washed in the blood of the lamb.

You’d think that 123 years after Ralph Hudson penned those 1892 lyrics that we’d be much closer as the people of God to that vision. But when I look at the church today, I realize how dry like a desert we are, how broken, how guilty, how desperately in need of God’s forgiveness and cleansing. We have forgotten that 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 is addressed to a group of believers, the Thessalonians. God calls the church to be sanctified, to be pure in her culture and her systems, yet we have fallen pitifully short and the watching world has surely noticed that we are no different than they.

Forgive us, Lord, for we your people have sinned!

No denomination has a corner on the market on righteousness. Across the spectrum of churches, things are awry. There’s no need to make a laundry list of offenses. That list is added to every day in online newspaper articles or on social media, undercutting our sacred mission in the world.

Forgive us, Lord, for we your people have sinned!

We look around us at our culture and see it plummeting downward. Too quickly, we are ready to call down upon those who make no claim to Christian faith the fiery judgment of God. But have we forgotten that God’s judgment falls first upon us, the church? Peter reminded his readers:

For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17, NIV, italics added).

Acts 5:1-11 is the fearful story of Ananias and Sapphira. Because they misrepresented to Peter the price that they had received for selling their land, Peter warned Ananias: “You have not lied to men but to God” (v. 4). Later, to Sapphira he asked: “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord?” (v. 9). Because of the cover-up – their complicity in lying – both fell down and died, first Ananias then later – playing dumb – Sapphira. If nothing else, doesn’t this story teach us that harboring known sin in our lives has negative physiological effects upon us? If that is true for individuals, what effect upon the overall health of our churches is there when corporately we look the other way when there has been wrongdoing? Shall we be surprised should God one day look at us, his people, and declare:

Ichabod! The glory has departed (1 Samuel 4:21)?

The Psalmist wrote: “”Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:24, NIV).

My prayer first of all is for myself, that I will remain transparent before God, allowing the Holy Spirit to convict  me of sin, leading me to ongoing change in my heart and life. But can it stop there? As God’s people, the church, let us acknowledge where we have allowed wrong ecclesiastical practices to go unchallenged and unchanged. Only then can the spiritual revival we seek take hold and make us the holy people God wants us to be. Surely, only a transformed people can transform our world (Matthew 5:13).

Together, let us pray:

“Almighty God, we your people have merited nothing but your disdain. In word, thought and deed, we as your church have failed; we have sinned. Like a land in drought, we are spiritually dry. Again and again, we have sought to increase our power and wealth rather than lifting up the powerless and destitute. We have run after position and fame, forgetting that your son, Jesus, divested himself of his glory, becoming a humble servant. Grant that we your people may  see the sinful log in our own eye then trust you to remove it. Do not repay us, your church, according to our transgressions or we will surely be lost! Forgive us, cleanse us, and fill us anew with the love and presence of the Holy Spirit. Help us, we pray, as your church not to conduct business as this world does, but show us a different way, your higher way. Hear us, we pray, for it is in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that we with humble repentance offer this prayer, AMEN.”

 

Image credit: Life is Bigger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to the drawing board

drawing_boardTo my readers:

Well has it been said: “There is no good writing, only good re-writing.”

A potential publisher has asked me to submit the first few chapters of my book proposal, tentatively titled:

Christlike Disciples, Christlike World: The Transformational Mission of the People of God

So, in today’s post, I’ll re-work the introduction to the book into a more suitable form, given the way later chapters have been unfolding.

For those who like technical terms, the project is designed to bring together three major areas: soteriology, ecclesiology, and missiology. Too often, these are treated on their own yet they belong together. Whether I succeed in casting a coherent vision, I’ll let you decide.

– Greg

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INTRODUCTION: WHAT’S IN A WORD?

“Transformation” is the latest buzzword, but what does it mean? The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines it as “a marked change in form, nature, or appearance.”

Transformation = change, but that’s only part of the picture. While we usually recognize when change has occurred, observers may disagree strongly whether a given change is positive or negative.

Truth be told, it’s not enough to call for transformation. Change for change’s sake is not enough. We must identify and work in the power of the Holy Spirit toward the kind of transformation desired.

In the title Christlike Disciples, Christlike World: The Transformational Mission of the People of God, the positive objective is clear:

All creation must become like Christ.

When all that God has made resembles Jesus, then we as God’s people can say: “Mission accomplished.”

Three headings provide the structure of this book:

1) Meet the people of God

2) Understanding our transformational mission

3) Getting it done

As an American born in the middle part of the twentieth century, my worldview was shaped by individualism. As a child, I was taught to take pride in being independent. It is only as an adult living in Africa that I’ve come to question the value of independence. Instead, I’ve come to appreciate interdependence, the contentment and purpose that come from seeing oneself first-and-foremost as part of a greater whole.

This experience has shaped the way I read the Bible and – consequently – how I understand the church and its mission in the world. Whereas my Western cultural spectacles had led me to view the individual as the primary reality and the church as secondary, the mere gathering of saved individuals, this “me first and we second” order now seems backwards. My new eyeglasses have helped me perceive a new reality, the larger story of what God wants to do collectively through the church. I have come to view my own salvation in Christ as caught-up within that bigger, corporate story. It is now “we first and me second,” a point-of-view much closer to the Scriptural witness of both Old and New Testaments.

Historically, we are witnessing the convergence of two worldviews. In a world made small by jet travel and the Internet, Africa’s collective outlook carries huge appeal for Western youth who are postmodern, inclusive, cooperative, and group-oriented in their thinking. To be successful today, any call to Christlike discipleship must find its grounding within that framework, a perspective that longs to make a positive impact in the here-and-now, in-short, a transformational point-of-view.

Christlike Disciples, Christlike World targets two groups. It can be used for those new to the church who want to know what we’re all about. Alternatively, it can be studied in small group settings as a way to re-focus our vision around the “why” of our existence as the church. Short chapters conclude with questions for discussion.

Let’s turn now to this question: Who is the church? Let’s meet the people of God.

Can the American church master the marriage two-step?

DSCN4560In light of this week’s historic Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, it looks like conservative churches in the U.S. may be doing some fancy legal dancing in coming days.  The question remains: Can the American church learn the marriage two-step?

The two-step is simple. Step one is a civil ceremony  followed by step two, a blessing officiated by the faith community. In Côte d’Ivoire, a West African nation, I attended the religious ceremony for one of my students and his bride. When they arrived at the church, they had come straight from the mayor’s office where they had already been married. Now at the church, the pastor led them through a second ceremony, “in the presence of God and these witnesses,” brothers and sisters-in-Christ who added their blessing and approval in a service of holy matrimony.

Such an arrangement seemed odd to me at first since I only knew of one-step weddings. When my wife and I married in 1985, I recall the solemn words intoned by my brother, the presiding minister:

“By the authority invested in me by the State of New York, I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

On the application for the marriage license, the Reverend signed his name as the “officiant.” Practically speaking, he was acting both as an agent of the church and as an agent of the State, two roles wrapped up in a single individual. No prior ceremony at the town hall was necessary. We had merely picked up the paperwork from the town clerk and had the minister sign the forms after the ceremony at church, along with our witnesses.

But I wonder:

Has the one-step wedding joined together church and state in a kind of unholy matrimony?

As long as ministers of the Gospel are accredited by the State to perform wedding ceremonies that include a civil function, they are acting as de facto agents of the government, what one colleague of mine called a “sub-magistrate.” In this arrangement, it follows logically that the State controls the procedure including who qualifies to be married. As of June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court has declared that two men or two women have the constitutional right to be joined together in marriage. It is not far-fetched to think that pastors who have in the past performed wedding ceremonies “by the authority invested in my by the State of ______” could be pressured to perform ceremonies for all comers, whether opposite sex or same-sex.

Here’s a better way:

STEP ONE: Conservative pastors must opt out of the current system. Instead, he or she would refer inquirers to the Justice of the Peace (JOP) or his/her equivalent in a given jurisdiction. The marriage license would be issued.

STEP TWO: People of faith who desire to have their marriage blessed in the presence of God and others of their faith community can do so, whether at the church, synagogue, mosque, or other house of worship. For Christians, this is the service of holy matrimony.

Our logic is clear: We understand holy matrimony to be a rite of the church which is distinct from the civil union (wedding ceremony) performed by the magistrate. As those faithful to the Scriptures, we believe that the blessing of holy matrimony is a life-long covenant sealed before God only by a heterosexual couple, one man and one woman.

What if two men or two women who have gone through a wedding ceremony conducted by the Justice of the Peace desire a religious blessing as well? Such a couple would be free to seek out a faith community that is willing to perform this ecclesiastical rite. More churches in the U.S. now do so than before. However, since the civil and religious aspects of a wedding would have been disentangled, the prospect of a gay couple legally coercing a conservative minister to perform the ceremony would be avoided since – by opting out – no conservative pastor would any longer be accredited by the State to carry out civil marriage functions on its behalf.

The United States is a pluralistic nation. Though once there was a Christian consensus, this is no longer the case. While some Christians consider the Bible authoritative on the question of marriage, in a democratic society, its teachings cannot be imposed upon those of other faiths or no faith. On the other hand, the longstanding tradition of the one-step wedding makes us vulnerable to having the unorthodox marriage views of others imposed upon us. It is high time that we get out of the civil marriage business. It is time that we learn the marriage two-step.

Trading in our goodbyes for hellos

goodbyeIt was December 5, 2005. Political storm clouds had been gathering for months, but on that day, the storm let loose. Word came from our superior that – due to insecurity in the country – we were to evacuate Haiti within 48 hours. Just one day before, we’d decorated the Christmas tree. Now, we quickly removed the ornaments, collapsing the tree and storing it in a closet. Hurriedly, we did laundry, packed our clothes, swept the house and headed to the airport.

So began an odyssey that took the four of us to Bethany, Oklahoma. Since that time, Bethany has been our psychological anchor, even if after three years there Amy and I physically returned to Africa, the continent of our earlier missionary service. One son already lives overseas, and the other will soon move to another state. Like a hot air balloon tethered to the ground, one-by-one, the slender ropes have once again been severed. The balloon is slowing rising again, this time to a new base back East with a sibling, a new driver’s license and address, a new touch-back point when we return from Africa briefly to the U.S. each year. Nine years after first coming to Oklahoma, it’s time for another goodbye.

Goodbyes were the stuff of life for Paul. In Acts 20:13-38, Paul was passing near Ephesus, his old pastorate where he’d spent three years pouring his life into new disciples. He was on his way to Jerusalem, so from Miletus he sent word to the elders in Ephesus to come to see him. After encouraging them to remain firm in the faith and warning them about dangers to the flock, Luke recounts the emotional scene:

When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship (20:36-38, NIV).

As Paul lamented that he would be absent from the Ephesians, so today we lament absence. Despite gadgets that connect us across the miles in real time via the Internet, there’s no substitute for sitting in the same room with friends and loved ones. Through the prophets, God had sent revelation to his people – a kind of virtual contact – yet it was inferior to the incarnation, Jesus coming in the flesh. It is only in the flesh that we can place a reassuring hand on a shoulder, wipe a tear, or give someone a hug. When distance separates us, like Paul, we grieve the loss.

The French language is rich when it comes to saying goodbye. In the musical, “The Sound of Music,” the children perform a goodnight song for the gathered party goers. In a clever bi-lingual play on words, Lisel chants: “Adieu, adieu, to yuh and yuh and yuh.” The word “adieu” (literally, “to God”) is well-chosen since her family would soon be secretly crossing the Alps from Austria to the safety of war time neutral Switzerland. She had no expectation to see them again, so she commended them into God’s hands. Yet the more common way to say goodbye is “au revoir,” meaning “until the re-sighting,” or more informally, “see you later.” The Scottish tune “Auld Lang Syne” – commonly sung at New Year’s Eve parties – is a celebration of times gone by. The French keep the tune, but substitute words with another meaning: “Ce n’est qu’un au revoir, mes frères” (“This is only a ‘see you later,’ my brothers. “) It looks forward, not backward.

Christian faith also looks forward. However sad goodbyes might be, hope changes the equation. The same gloomy Paul of Acts 19 is cheerier elsewhere, reminding the Corinthians that we are resurrection people:

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:9, NIV).

To the Thessalonians, he paints a picture of Christ’s return when we shall be raised to new life (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). We are to “comfort each other with these words” (v. 18), the promise that we shall “be with the Lord forever” (v. 17).

Former missionary Linda Seaman has said:

Heaven is where we’ll trade in all our goodbyes for hellos.

I’ve gotten better at saying goodbyes. When moving, it’s healthy to visit one last time places that hold good memories and to wish farewell to friends. I spent a lot of time this week doing just that. Some friends I won’t see again during this life, but we despair not. The Christian hope sustains us.

Saying goodbye to Bethany, Oklahoma – a safe harbor after a storm – won’t be my last goodbye. There will be other goodbyes made to other people and places on this earthly journey. I’m glad that – for the Jesus follower – the journey ends with  heavenly hellos. Don’t miss the reunion!

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Image credit: Luna Starla blog

God’s not-so-secret plan to save creation

earthIt’s a classic scene in television’s West Wing. Josh Lyman mistakenly announces to the White House press corps that the president has a “secret plan to fight inflation.” His colleagues rib him mercilessly.

As it turns out God is nothing like Mr. Lyman. The divine plan is not to fight inflation but to save creation, and it’s not at all a secret. In fact, Jesus announces it openly:

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16, NLT).

The Greek word translated as “world” is kosmos. It can also be translated as universe. God – the creator of the universe – has a deep and abiding love for all creation. Psalm 145:9 affirms: “The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made” (ESV). Later, Psalm 149 calls on all creation to praise the LORD. Nothing is excluded – sun, moon, stars, angels, human beings, the creatures of the ocean depths, animals that scurry along the ground – all must give glory to the creator. In Isaiah’s vision, even trees join the people of God in joyful song (Isaiah 55:12).

The catastrophe

Yet something has gone terribly wrong in creation. Something is broken and must be repaired. Paul explained the devastating consequences of our first parents’ poor choice to disobey God. Death was the result of sin, or disobedience (Romans 5:12). This disastrous consequence rippled out to damage all that God had perfectly made. Romans 8:20-21 (NIV) tells us:

Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope,  the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.

In the first section of Christlike Disciples, Christlike World, we looked at the people of God, the church. Beginning in this chapter, we focus on the church’s mission. What are the people of God supposed to do? God wants to use us as partners to repair what is broken:

God’s intent is transformation, to restore to its original state all that God has made.

It’s a not-so-secret plan to save creation. And what is the catalyst that God will use to do that? It’s you, it’s me, it’s us as the church, a monumental mission inspired by our immense God. Yet too often in the past, our mission has been truncated, as if God cared only about the spiritual condition of individuals. In fact, God wants to make us Christlike disciples not as an end in itself, but as a means to a far broader end. This is the transformational mission of the people of God, to be God’s instruments of change in our community, our culture, and nature itself, redeeming the very biological ecosystem that sustains us.

ripples in a pond

Rock, ripples, and results

If we could only have one Gospel, I would choose Luke. It’s an amazing story of the difference Jesus of Nazareth makes in our world. The birth narrative in Luke 1-2 announces the coming of the Son of God to earth, the incarnation, the divine taking on human flesh.

Have you ever dropped a rock into a pond? What happens? The rock makes ripples. In a way, Jesus is like a rock that God the Father dropped into the pond of human existence. If Luke gives us the story of the rock, Jesus of Nazareth, then Acts is about the ripples and the results. In Acts 1:8, Jesus tells his 11 disciples that they must wait for the power of the Holy Spirit, who would live inside of them. Then – and only  then – can they effectively ripple out, impacting others in positive, life-changing ways:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8, ESV).

The Greek word for “power” is dunamis. It is the root from which derives the English word “dynamite.” When filled with the Holy Spirit, our lives ripple in powerful ways, positively influencing those around us. We become evidence of the transforming capacity of the Gospel.

Yet our world is highly change-resistant. The forces of the status quo don’t give in easily. Jesus found that out firsthand when they arrested, whipped, stripped and hung him on a cross to die. Now on a hill outside Jerusalem, the resurrected Christ warns his disciples: “You will be my witnesses.” The Greek word used in Acts 1:8 for “witnesses” is marthures, giving us our English word “martyr.” This is no ordinary testimony they will bear, but a testimony even unto death. Among those who heard Jesus that day was Peter, who tradition tells us was himself crucified upside down, when he considered himself unworthy to die in the same manner as had Jesus. Likewise, Stephen became the first martyr, stoned to death for his Christian confession (Acts 7). Advance always comes at a cost. The early history of the church is a bloody one. Writing in the 2nd century AD, Tertullian observed: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” What was true then is true today as numerous Christians in the Middle East are being martyred for no other offense than their faith in Christ.

Thankfully, the rock and the ripples are followed by results. Luke’s account in Acts shows the Christian faith moving out in ever-wider circles. Individuals are transformed, leading to transformation of communities and their pagan practices: Saul, Apollos, Lydia, Priscilla and Aquilla, Cornelius and many more become testimonies of the explosive, transformational power of belief in the risen Lord. In later chapters, we’ll look at some of those stories in greater detail.

Summing it all up

God cares deeply about all creation – human beings, communities, trees, animals, and the whole of creation, all of which were originally meant to praise the creator. Yet human sin – willful disobedience to God – marred what God had made perfect. Not willing to give up on what he had made, God in Christ has launched a not-so-secret plan to save creation, and God’s holy people, the church, are partners in that holy, transformational mission. In the next chapter, we’ll look at the human heart, where the problem originated and where the divine solution must begin.

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Image credits

Earth: Celestia Mother Lode

Pond: Insight 4 Living Today