We all see the world with a pair of spectacles on. The way we see the world depends on what pair of spectacles we have chosen to put on.
For some, the world is one where there’s no place for God. For some the world is seen as a place for humanity to get on as well as it possibly can. If my world is seen through the spectacles of belief in one God who created the world with a good purpose to enjoy knowing him – then this is how I will view the world:
God is real. This God created me and you to know Him. In the Bible we read about the first man and women. They lived the life we were all created for, a life where they knew a perfect relationship. Yes, perfect – there was unconditional love, joy, contentment and everything else you can imagine.
But then things changed. This first man and women thought they knew best and decided that life would be better if they took charge and unfortunately that meant that God couldn’t allow them to keep on in that perfect relationship simply because – it just wasn’t perfect anymore. Something else came into the mix after that. Disobedience. In Christian-speak ‘sin’ entered the mix.
Sin is not a list of wrong things, although it might include it. Sin is simply this: stepping away from the one true God and deciding to go our own way. And that’s what the first man and woman did.
From that point on it’s a great love story with twists and turns, with ups and downs, and a huge sacrifice that boggles the mind.
And this is what it’s all about – God on a rescue mission.
Everything in the Bible points toward something that happened just over 2000 years ago. You see, God’s rescue mission was this: he sent his son Jesus to this earth, a human just like you and I. Jesus came to be like us, to share our struggles and pains, to share the reality of life, to live and grow. The thing is, Jesus was different, and people noticed that. Some people got his message. You see, Jesus said he was God, on a rescue mission.
Unsurprisingly, Jesus gained enemies – but it was all part of God’s plan, because the next part of the story is the bit that boggles the mind. Sacrifice.
Jesus willingly gave himself into the hands of his enemies and let himself be killed. This is the pivotal, most awesome and exciting thing that could have happened to us as humans.
Cast your mind back to the first man and woman. They stepped away from God, turned away from him and basically said: “Thanks God, but no thanks! I’ll do it my way from now on.” And that is what humans have been saying ever since.
The thing about putting on these spectacles that see the world like this is: when we first put them on, we see stuff about ourselves that we know is wrong. We see a whole lot of mess and a whole lot of distance between ourselves and God.
During his lifetime Jesus was flawless, he didn’t walk away from God – so instead of judging us or condemning us, he did what he had to do for our sake.
He died on a cross, a really brutal way to die. And in his death, all that mess that we see, feel, and know lies deep in our hearts is sorted. Jesus died for us, he died instead of us, so that we didn’t have to face the consequences of choosing to walk away from God. Instead we can now get to know God like the first man and woman did – we can know his unconditional and perfect love.
But it didn’t end there.
A few days after Jesus had died a couple of his followers were walking along, shoulders hunched, and pretty downcast. They were joined by a third person on their way who asked what was up and they told him that Jesus had been killed. Pretty bad news really.
The thing is that third person they were chatting to was Jesus. Death had not beaten God.
Jesus in his death had taken on himself all of our ‘sin’, but in his coming to life again gave us something else too – he gave us life, even after death. We can face God and be right with him.
In the great love story of God and humanity, God sent his only son to face the consequences of our decisions to distance ourselves from him. Ever since the first man and woman walked away from God, he has been about setting that right.
… It’s all about love, actually – knowing we are everything to God, knowing we are worth dying for – so that we can rediscover that lost relationship we once had with God himself.
Does God want to be known? Is he just a God that looked down on us from somewhere in the heavens? Was he involved in the formation of this world, and now sits back and watches us carry on?
God wants to be known.
The Bible is the story of a God who, having created the perfect world for people that were made to reflect him and enjoy knowing him, did not just kick back and watch the world spin. If earth’s story from creation to its final destination were a song, it would be a song telling of stories of old and new, with music that fills our hearts with excitement, with fear, amazement, joy.
The first half of the Bible is all about how God didn’t just leave the world to get on with it – he got stuck right into the middle of it. It’s about God creating two people, who went their own way. They left God’s way. These two people became many people and from these many people a group was chosen. God chose this group of people to stand out as his people, a people chosen to pass on his blessing. And within that big picture, it’s a story of ordinary people who chose to do what God asked them to do. So through the ordinary, the extraordinary could be seen.
The message that Jesus came to this earth is set within this song – it’s set in a long, long story over many centuries. The thing is that the story has always pointed to God’s rescue mission, that Jesus was coming to be the rescuer. Now not only is there one group of people who are chosen to be bearers of God’s blessing, but everyone can be. Everyone can know God!
“The future is bright!”
As a teenager I was given a genuine Australian aboriginal boomerang. I would throw it out into the distance and it would eventually return to me. Hope in the Bible is a bit like that. We can gaze intently at what’s going to happen – but then it returns to touch our lives in the here-and-now!
God is the God of our past and our present, but also of our future – he’s “the God who is to come”. History as we know it will be brought to a climax in the return of Jesus. Meanwhile we have to hang in there, actively waiting for him. Although there are many signs marking the run-up to his return, we’ll never compute the precise day or hour.
So what does the future look like? In a phrase it will be ‘life to the max’, the ultimate experience.
While we trust an unseen Father-God now, when everything is wrapped up we will actually see him face-to-face. It’s a bit ironic but until that day we live well by seeing the God who is invisible! Because he’s our King we will also enter into his kingdom in the fullest sense. A bit like receiving a big inheritance from a relative who has died!
Christians believe that through Jesus we’re saved – the Bible also says that we will be saved. The ‘will be saved’ bit marks our final rescue from all that spoils life. And although we have eternal life now as God’s gift, this will be received in the fullest sense then.
Church too will be even better. Paul says we will be totally grown-up spiritually, not displaying any juvenile behaviour. Together we will reflect Jesus’ character a hundred percent. Many Christians will receive rewards for serving God consistently.
The environment we’ve always lived in will be recycled into ‘new heavens and new earth’. Even our frail old bodies will be transformed, similarly to Jesus’ body after his resurrection. No more green campaigning, GP visits or hospital operations!
In short, all of God’s promises stretching back century upon century will be fulfilled. Hence the amazing note of celebration in the final book of the Bible. A bit like a thrilling wedding reception today! God himself – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – will be at the very centre of everything.
So, how might these realities boomerang back on you today?
If you have questions about what the Bible says, what Christians believe or what God is like, you might find it helpful to talk to someone or to take part in a weekly course to discuss your questions in an informal group setting. Click on the icons below to connect to the Alpha or Puzzling Questions websites to find out more about these two different courses or contact the BCC office (Tel: 01202 530265 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information about when the next course is running.