It appears that N. T. Wright is closing in on the doctrine of creation in his newly released, Paul: A Fresh Perspective. Although this book is mainly a reworking of previous material, primarily contained in Climax of the Covenant, it is interesting to note Wright’s emphasis on the story of creation in Paul. He devotes and entire chapter to “Creation and Covenant” in Paul underscoring the fact that covenant was God’s solution to what went wrong with creation and that creation is essential in solving the problem that went wrong with covenant. In typical Wright style, he aptly summarizes sweeping thelogical themes and concepts without much exegesis. However, that work is to be found in Climax.
Returning to Climax of the Covenant, we observe that the death and resurrection of Christ is, indeed the climax to the covenant with Abraham, Israel and the Church. However, Wright’s emphasis on creation in Paul would lend the reader to conclude that the climax is not the resurrection, but the return and consummation of creation- into new creation. Consider the following quote: “…I believe this to be a vital underlying principle in all of Paul’s thought- on the belief that the one true God is the creator, the ruler and coming judge of the whole world. Monotheism of the Jewish style, which Paul re-emphasizes as he refashions it, generates just this sense of the underlying narrative, the historical and as yet unfinished story fo creation and covenant, to which the individual stories such as those of Abraham and the Exodus contribute…” p.12 Where the stories of Abraham and the Exodus form part of the metanarrative of Scripture and drive the plot forward to its climax, isn’t it creation itself that is central to the covenantal climax in the creation of all things new by the returning, consummating King?
Our culture is obsessed with the notion of choice. This becomes especially apparent when youíve been out of the country for a while. I can remember returning to the states after spending a couple of months in the hills of Northern Thailand and Burma. My first trip to Target was overwhelming. I distinctly recall standing on the toothpaste isle overcome. There must have been 40 different choices. I felt immobilized by the number of options. However, it didnít take long for me to settle back into the decision-driven, choice-filled ways of our culture. We have an abundance of choice in America. This past week when I was in Texas, our rental car had XM satellite radio. There were 100s of channels to pick from. There was XM1 and XM2 including a station for every major city, news station and even sports teams. Cable TV offers well over a 150 channels and thatís not even the deluxe package. Much of our time is spent weighing our options, balancing pros and cons, whether itís picking out toothpaste, choosing what channel to watch, renting a movie or selecting what college course to take. Americans spend more time shopping than any other society. They frequent shopping malls more often than houses of worship and 93% of teenage girls say that shopping is their favorite activity. So, in a decision-driven culture what frequently figures foremost is our life choices, US! He is a means to an end, the end of our choices. In fact, comparison shopping fuels the sense of self, the rush of choice, the power of purchasing. It is inevitable that this shopping-soaked, decision-driven culture will influence our perception of God and his will.
Projecting our consumerism and decision-driven lifestyles onto Godís will, we continue our obsession with choice. We seek God for answers, directions, ďwisdomĒ BUT we do not seek God for God! We end up treating God like a Mall Information Booth Attendant. He is not a person to relate to, to know, to understand and enjoy, to worship; He is there to give us direction. We cry out to God, ďJust show me where the GAP is so I can get there!Ē Other times we treat God like a comparison shopping chart or website. He exists to help us line up the products and possibilities of life, compare and contrast their features and options, and wallah- we make our choice! God is not the ultimate comparison shopping chart or website, dispensing wisdom for us to make decisions about what kind of toothpaste, computer, or movie we want to buy or what elective to take. Godís will for us is infinitely greater than supplying directions or narrowing down choices. Desiring help in deciding what God wants us to do with the myriad of choices set before us is understandable. Life is complex and God is sovereign and wise. And yes, God is sovereign over every hair of your head, but does not mean that He is constrained to tell you where it will part or fall. Often God is not primarily concerned so much with what we choose but how we choose it and with whom. Godís will for us is much greater than helping us execute a series of decisions to be made in mapping out our lives. Which raises the question, what is His will and how do we respond to it?
This past Sunday I began my position as Interim Preacher for Covenant Chapel of Manchester, CT The church is a young, vibrant, ethnically diverse church. Primarily composed of second generation Korean-Americans, Covenant Chapel is a warm and inviting place to worship. Emmanuel Chang, the worship leader, leads a very talented band. I haven’t worshipped like I do at Covenant Chapel in some time.
Sermons will begin being posted online within the next few weeks. We are deeply grateful to God for the people of CC and anticipate great things through our time there. The interim is for six months, ending approximately in May. I would appreciate your prayers, if you think of me on Sundays. Sermon preparation every week is a new endeavor.
Looking to future grace…