What is/where is the intersection of God and creation?
I have given thought to this sort of question before, and as put, it sounds so philosophical. It sounds like the theological version of a complex math equation. And I don’t mean to smear math (I have met people who see something almost artistic in it, but I personally am NOT one of those kind). But I need to talk about this kind of question in a down-to-earth context. I am not sure how to get it there.
Let me provide the context in which I am coming to such questions presently, and hopefully we can be grounded there for a start.
I am writing a book. This is the first book I ever wrote in which I hope to seek publication of some sort. The book is specifically about Christian hospitality, but born out of Christian street ministry for the poor and homeless.
As far as writing goes, it is a skill I am not overly developed in AND I do it in odd moments or late at night because my home-life is filled to overflowing with babies and small children, most of them in diapers. These are people in need of almost constant attention which interrupts my work on a moment-by-moment basis round the clock seven days a week. (It can be a challenge to hold a single thought – all the more to develop thoughts which build on one another.)
Now for the OTHER context.
My book aims to be “biblical” in nature. I am not a straight up slave to the Bible, but I did give myself in servitude to the God of the Bible, and I trust his word harmonizes with his will – that it gives me what I need. There are a few places where I theologically construct ideas and actions which strictly speaking are not quite represented in the text (one thinks of the word TRINITY, for instance) but I work diligently to harmonize these bits with the Bible all the same. And I aim to do it in a down-to-earth, easy-to-read voice.
Thus, when I ask about an intersection of God and creation, biblically speaking, the first and most foundational context I have for that is the creation of Genesis where God speaks creation into it’s created order and especially where he blows his spirit into the nostrils of the adam. But the premier biblical instance of this intersection is the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and the premier instance where he reveals this intersection is the cross.
God who makes, judges, and redeems creation intersects with it frequently in lesser ways all through the Bible too. But the way (The Way) most pertinent to Christian faith is through the church.
It all sounds so biblical and theological. Something of a biblical theology. But we are back to that dry place with it, like a theological math equation. It’s something on a chalk board in a sleepy lecture at an institution of higher learning for people smarter than me and you at this point. That’s not quite the down-to-earth, I am looking for.
My book is about hospitality.
My thesis tells us that God’s redemption for creation is a work which unfolds (like in a Master Carpenter’s workshop) in our hearts – but by “hearts” in that sentence, I mean the place where our treasure is (think Matt. 6:21). So, in the fuller scope of your heart, I mean your HOME (and I include your church building/sanctuary in that too).
God’s work of redemption is happening in there (or not as the case may be).
Also, in this construct, there is implied work which we do and which God does through us. Our work is small, but significant, and joins his bigger more mysterious work.
There are competing visions for world order and competing powers establishing the various orders. In a super-simplified sense, let’s say we have governments (with their armies/navies, ballot boxes/monarchs, taxes and so forth), corporations (with their capital, their goods and services, profit margins and prices, and their agendas), and finally the church.
What does the church bring to this world order business that isn’t brought by the others?
This is getting to the nub of my point in this post. It is a hinge upon which swings my entire thesis in my book. And it is a thing which the world at large AND THE CHURCH AT LARGE TOO easily overlooks, I think.
Consider this: If I go to a city council meeting and propose Lubbock prays for rain (we are in a terrible drought, btw), there will be some who laugh and many who scoff. However, this happened in Lubbock a few years back (2011???) during a previous drought, and the city moved to do it. Prayer became an official way Lubbock addressed our water conservation.
It made headlines in major network and print news organizations where it faced scrutiny and scorn from the larger public.
If I go to Goldman Sachs and propose prayer, I expect they already have their world order agendas covered in other ways. If I went to the United States congress and sought prayer, there will be many there who will desire it, but many of those will seek to pray to all the gods or to no god or to Allah or to Mother or… you get the idea. Then even most of the Christians will begin to scoff!
What does the church bring to world order that these other institutions can’t or won’t?
The intersection of God and his creation.
That’s my answer, in a somewhat philosophical frame.
We bring prayer, worship, in fact the embodiment of God.
But the world isn’t running to us for our help with their world order problems. Ukraine isn’t seeking the church’s sermons and prayers, but America’s drones and antitank weapons.
These are not goods or services of the church.
What are the goods and services or (to use a Walter Brueggemann metaphor) the “tools of the church”?
The tools of the church are things like towel and basin. Such are the tools of the hospitable. Hospitality is the workshop of God in our hearts where he redeems creation at a heart level, where baptism and table remake us, where splagchnizomai reshapes objects of redemption on the divine workbench you otherwise cannot see.
Our tools and our workshop are humble, patient, virtuous, kind, hopeful, and vulnerable, they are symbolic but powerful with a depth other powers cannot touch. They are mysterious, requiring faith in things you cannot see. They affect change down at the heart of matters and in the hearts of people calling forth repentance and discipleship leading to shalom. Nobody is forced or coerced into this. On the contrary, they must humble themselves to participate or else they will be repulsed from the pride in their own hearts.
The other world powers have more glitz and glam, but their reach is too short. They never intersect with God.
Somehow, I need to explore these ideas in two or three paragraphs, two or three pages at the most. I have enough chapters already, and I don’t think a book like mine needs another.
Wanna help me write?
Leave me your comment.