"I am convicted that I need to out-feel those around me who do not know God, because unlike them I have reason to believe that my feelings are a response to real joys and real tragedies. I need to be involved intellectually and emotionally in all the real good and all the real evil of the world and of the lives of those around me. I need to laugh more. I need to cry more."Life is for living. Some say that to err is human. Others say thinking makes us human. We could speculate all day long, but we do actually already know. The first page of the Bible is often ignored because it's perceived to be controversial. Yet, most of the most important words ever said are on that page. The Guardian is publishing a 14 part series on Great Speeches at the moment - they really should include Genesis ch1. We get God speaking. We get God speaking and the universe-happens. Spaces are formed, and then filled. And his approval is stamped on it all - "good". God makes life happen and it is good. He says Yes.
And then something "very good". Actually us. Human Beings. Image-bearers. Pale reflections of God himself, but reflections nonetheless. Sixty-six books and however many years later we're now marred by sin but we're not lost causes. We can be redeemed. Not by ourselves, we can't pull ourselves up by our bootstraps - that wont work. The one who is The Image-Bearer can bring us back. The Cross of Christ is the one and only way that the complete job can be done - wrath-averted, sin-cleansed, relationship-restored, community-created, heart-changing, mind-renewing transformation. What that could lead us to conclude is that the only thing to do is evangelism. Skip living and just preach the gospel, right?
What does it mean to be image-bearers? Relational - echoing the Trinity. Creative and communicative (just look at everything God does in the 26 verses of scripture before he makes us). Creation-subduers and rulers (in the very best sense of what that can look like). And there are ways to bring out that from the darkness. The music teacher can help a child express creativity. The speech therapist helps someone communicate. The biochemist explores the world that God made, finding out how it works best. The agriculturalist cultivates the world - a few steps short of a Global Eden but better to get it working a bit rather than not at all. Planet Earth (and the rest of the Universe) is God's place and it's corrupted but it's still pretty phenomenal.
I work for a mission agency and our passion is evangelism. But not even Roger Carswell spends every waking moment doing evangelism. We can live. And we must. Christian Students have a job. It's studying. I want to see them know how to study their course to the glory of God, and to take their gifts and their talents into the marketplace, into the workplace. We need Bible Teachers, apologists and evangelists. But mostly we need an army of life-living Jesus-loving people - who love what is good, who live - work - and play to the glory of God. Limping along from one moment to the next as best they can with the help of God.
The Christian has their eyes open to this. Their mind-renewed. Their heart-awakened. We have a taste of the new creation and that means we can really live in the first one. We're able to get our heart broken and our mind thinking. We can breathe deeply. We can experience the boredom and the excitement. The writer of Ecclesiastes wasn't a freak he was normal (and honest). We can have fun and we can mourn. We can feel gain and we can feel loss. We can see the big picture and we can delight in the details. I spent the first 18 years of my life soundly asleep unawares of the most beautiful things in life. Sadly there have been plenty of times in the last 10 that I've dozed off. Someone keep me awake please! I need an IV drip of caffeine for my soul. I need the Holy Spirit. I need the Word of God. Life is there for living.