Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How Are We To Live? Part-1

How Are We To Live? Part-1 (Introduction & Creation)

As we begin our entrance into another year as image-bearers, I’d like to consider the motivation we employ in living our day-to-day lives. Whether “Christian” or not, every human being is, by God’s definition, an “image-bearer” and therefore obligated before God to live in a certain way. Though every Christian would agree with the general principle that we all (Christian and non-Christian) are to live our lives to the glory of God, exactly how are we to accomplish this goal? Is the “Law of God” our motivation? Or is our motivation the consideration of the popular refrain, “What Would Jesus Do”? Or could it be a re-conception of the WWJD idea into, “What Would I Do” or “What Would You Do”? Exactly how does a person purpose to “live to the glory of God”? And is the how any different for the unbeliever than for the Christian? To be sure, only the Christian can live in this way; but is that to say that the Christian’s call to do so is based on radically different criteria? In other words, is the basis for the Christian’s call on his life any different than the basis for the unbeliever’s call on his life?

What is God’s call on our life? Whether you’re a Christian or not, God’s call for every human being is to “be perfect” as He is perfect. This is the fundamental requirement that God lays upon all of us. The fact that no person can answer that call in and of himself does not negate the call, though it does result in another call on our lives—the call to faith in Him, or more specifically, faith in Jesus Christ. And the first call isn’t superseded by the second call. All human beings are required to be perfect as God is perfect and, subsequently, because of our inability to accomplish the first call, we’re all called to faith in Jesus Christ. Without debating aspects of the “eternal decree”, generally speaking Christians agree that the Bible asserts both calls on all people, everywhere. The question is: What is the relationship (if any) between the calling to “be perfect” and the calling to faith in Christ? And if there is a relationship between the two, how are either of these callings (or both of them) understood in the life of a human being, whether the Christian or the non-Christian?

(When I use the masculine “his” or “him”, or even the term “man” in referring to a human being, I’m doing so for ease of use and clarity: “And God created “man” in His own image, in the image of God He created him [man]; male and female He created them [man].” Man, therefore, refers to human beings, whether male or female.)

We must first understand what it means to be “perfect”. If we look at Adam, we can easily see how both callings of God are implicated in the life of a human being. God created all things “good”; and with the completion of His creation in His “image-son” (man), He proclaimed His work “very good”. Biblically, we can speak of perfection in the created order in two senses: perfection before The Fall and perfection in the Redemptive State. There is a sense in which the Scripture speaks of Creation before the fall as “perfect”. In Eden, we see the Shalomic perfection that typifies the consummative state in the New Creation. In Eden, all is as it should be (though not what it will be): Shalom reigns as all of God’s creation exists in harmony and fullness of being. We can understand the perfection of creation as the authenticity of every created thing being fully what it was created to be, existing in this world fully aware, so-to-speak, of its created function and therefore relating with integrity, in truth to every other created thing and to the Creator Himself. And on the seventh day, God rested; all of Creation was to follow Man (Adam and Eve) into the eternal Shabbat of God’s Rest. The creation was “perfect” for its purpose. The perfection of man, specifically, was his authentic humanness as image-bearer; his calling to be perfect was the calling for him to live his life as he was created to be—an authentic human being, God’s “image-son”.

Like Adam, the call on our lives now as human beings created in the image of God is to be what we were created to be--authentic human beings who bear the image of God! To be perfect as God is perfect is for us to be fully conformed to our (created) nature. This is not something that we're called to do but something that we're called to be. God's perfection lies in the fact that He is who He is--always! Like Adam, we're called to be "perfect as God is perfect", which is to say, we're called to be who we are as image-sons--always! As a type of Christ (as Christ is the "last Adam", He is the true Man, the fountainhead of a new humanity), Adam's created "perfection" was his authentic humanity.

But then…

(to be continued...)


thekingpin68 said...

'(When I use the masculine “his” or “him”, or even the term “man” in referring to a human being, I’m doing so for ease of use and clarity: “And God created “man” in His own image, in the image of God He created him [man]; male and female He created them [man].” Man, therefore, refers to human beings, whether male or female.)'

This was made an issue by some professors at Bible school. When I can I use the term humankind.


satire and theology said...

I do reason it correct not to change the wording of Biblical words when translated to English.

So man should stay as man, etc. Explanation is an aspect of theology.

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Thanks Russ. In today's society the use of "man" may seem overly chauvinistic and another term is probably more agreeable; and "humankind" is probably more "politically correct". :-)

But "man", properly understood I think, conveys the idea so much more simply and, in my mind, is easier to use in sentance structure (at least for me in my writing, I suppose). This is why I made sure to define my usage of it even though it may have disrupted the flow of the piece somewhat.

I'll think I'll try to be more cognizant of these things as I write so as to not unintentionally put-off people by my use of certain terms.

Thanks for reading.

jeleasure said...

Hi Jason,
I've been swamped with work over the holidays. It has not been easy to get back to blogging.
This is a very well thought out, topic. You include a lot on the Human Family and conditions based on the secular and Christian perspective and are correct.
All of the "Human Kind" (per Russ) must be 'perfect' as God is perfect.
There really is no difference in what is expected in the "post ressurectio" period of God's struggle with man. One can not be "perfect" as God is perfect if this person does not have a faith in Jesus Christ. Why? Well, this is the standard offered by God. To follow Jesus as an example as how to have relationships with God and man (humankind) and to place one's faith in Jesus as the Christ.
I'm sure I missed something. Oh, well. Good post.

Vicki said...

Hi Jason,
Jim said that I should visit you. And he went ahead and posted a link from my blog to yours. I thanked him.
Read the Matthew reference carefully because it is a particular area in which we are to be perfect. Ok, it is in loving others, not just those who love us.
Keep listening to the Lord, Jason. He is telling you wonderful things to share.

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Hi Vicki,

Thanks for the comment. I hope to have part 2 up this week and maybe part 3 before heading off to see family for vacation.

I agree that loving others (biblically, of course) is the "practical" manifestation of our call to be "perfect", but I'm heading towards something a bit more fundamental to us as human beings.

Without giving away the ending of my short series, let me just say that I'll be attempting to explain from the Scripture that for us to "be perfect as God (our Heavenly Father) is perfect" is more than just loving as He loves, or showing mercy as He shows mercy, or showing compassion as He shows compassion, etc. (as so much Christian teaching emphasizes); it's more than mimicking the attributes of God or even doing the things that God calls us to do (which is simply a setlist of things to do that anyone, with the right motivation, can do). My point will be that our perfection lies not in what we do but in who we are (the recovery in Christ of who we were created to be from the beginning).

If we're to "be perfect as God is perfect", our perfection must lie in the same thing as God's perfection. God is perfect, not because of what He does (though what He does certainly is perfect) but because of who He is. God's perfection lies in the fact that He is always truly God; He's always in perfect conformity to His nature as God. Again, not because of what He does, but because of who He is. So if we are to be perfect as our Father is perfect, we must be in conformity to our created nature as "image-bearers". It's not what we do, but who we are!

This is why I began with Creation. In the original created order, we see the typoligical "perfection" of creation in the Garden of Eden, if you will. The original created order, in its typological shalomic perfection only foreshadows and prophecies of the fulness of what God intended; an intention that is not complete apart from the redemption that comes in Christ. From Creation, then, we'll have to see what happened in The Fall, we'll see what this Redemption is really all about and then we'll see what is promised in the Consummation.

My track for this brief series is: Creation, Fall, Redemption and Consummation. That's a lot of ground to cover, but my hope is to try to get us thinking about our lives as Christians in a way that, in my estimation, is greatly overlooked in contemporary Christianity.

Anyway, I hope you (and everyone else) will stick with me as I put this together. Between work, leading the worship service at church and our upcoming vacation, it may take longer than I had hoped for. But if it gets us thinking about this great salvation that we have in Christ, then it's always worth it, right?


Greg said...

Hi, GGM! Your series here goes right along with our discussion on my Frequently Asked Friday posts. I'll have to give it some more thought, but I agree with you. One of my pet peeves is that today's Christians do not believe that they can be who God has called them to be.

Looking forward to your next piece. Enjoy the break!!