swordI’m fascinated by the repeated Biblical pattern of separating, dividing out, and setting apart, then of a returning, re-uniting, and putting back together. All things come from God, divided out from Him. And all things go back to God.

Mankind

I see that Adam was divided out from God. Some might argue that Adam came not from God, but from the dust of the earth.  However, while this is technically true, Adam had both the breath and image of God in him. Dust was simply a physical means to “house” them. (Besides, didn’t the earth come directly from God?) At any rate, Eve was then divided out from Adam, from his rib.

Then I read that the two are to separate from their parents and come together as one flesh. The specific reason given is that Eve was “bone of [Adam’s] bones, flesh of my flesh.” (Gen. 2:22-25) Adam and Eve don’t merely unite, they reunite. So marriage, I believe, is actually a prophecy of the human race reunited with itself, and of a restored world wholly reunited with its Creator.

Then I see that Israel was set apart, divided out from Gentile nations, hand-picked by God much the way Adam was handmade by God. Yet the coming new world depicted in Revelation consists of all nations, peoples, and languages—Jews and Gentiles—worshipping God. Here is Adam and Eve’s prophetic union on steroids, the great wedding of the Lamb. (Rev. 19:6-10)

Community

And I see that Jesus says he came to bring a sword, i.e., division, to set “a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’” (Mat. 10:34-36, where Jesus is quoting Micah 7:6-7 from the Old Testament)

I can’t imagine that his purpose is grief and chaos. He aims to ultimately bring people together, healed of dysfunctional relationships, self- and neighbor hatred, and destructive life-styles. The great exodus from evil ways is ongoing and must occur even in family units when necessary.

Contrary to human ideas, Jesus and the original Christian faith didn’t put marriage or family on a pedestal, but also didn’t trample them in abuse. It simply placed them within the larger context of harmonious community. Don’t love only those who love you, such as friends and family, but love all neighbors, even enemies, as yourself.

Those who practice this seriously are indeed set apart, divided out. But when the rest of humanity “catches up” according to God’s plan, even if they go through hell first, the result is a vibrant, healthy, restored and righteous world.

Nations

Jesus knew that he came from the Father and would go back to the Father. (Jhn 13:3) I also see that he’s the first-fruit of multitudes who follow him, and that those followers are then the first-fruits of “all he created.” (1Cor. 15:23, Jas. 1:18) Mankind, the earth, and everything else comes from the Father, and, like the Son of man, goes back to the Father.

I’m not sure I have a solid point to this week’s musings. But yesterday was the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address and I see that our country is again deeply divided today. I wonder sometimes if it’ll end in Civil War #2 with Left against Right instead of North against South.

Then I regain perspective, knowing that division is fascinatingly related to creation, birth, and harmony that’s ultimately bigger than any one nation, including the U.S. I’m as patriotic as the next person, but in the sweep of history, I know that God has everything well in hand even when His plan unfolds, in my opinion, at the speed of a glacier.

“Behold, I am making all things new.” (Rev. 21:5)

 

 

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An blue icon with a graduation cap and tassel.

An blue icon with a graduation cap and tassel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eve came from Adam’s rib; Adam came from the earth; and the earth came from God. Through marriage, Eve reunites, or goes back, to Adam, her origin.

Jesus also said that he came from the Father and would go back to the Father. As first-fruit, he’s the first of multitudes to follow. The Christian faith came from Jews and spread to Gentiles. And through unity in Christ, mankind goes back to God, our origin. He invented marriage to foreshadow this glory.

Mankind is God’s child, and, despite sin, we’re already like Him in many ways. We’re creators with a lower case “c”— inventors, dreamers, builders, artists, healers, and child-bearers like our Father. We’re rulers and providers, like our Father. We’re persons in community, just as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are a triune Person in community.

God doesn’t reveal every detail of eternity, but He does reveal what we need to know about it right now. And I’m sure He delights in keeping many juicy surprises in store for us!

Therefore, once we get past the idea that heaven is (1.) strictly a destination after death, and (2.) a holding place where the righteous dead wait or sleep while God does something to the earth and humanity, we can get involved in what God is doing with them.

We do know that God wants His children with Him—not to float around or sing perpetual hymns, but to be co-creators with Him, just as we are now on a smaller scale. We’ll be very much alive and active with meaningful, exciting work on a huge scale. It’s why ruler-servanthood with personal virtue like Christ is so central to eternal living.

We also know that God will share His happiness and put those He can trust in charge of much more on the renewed earth. “Well done, my good servant! Because you’ve been trustworthy in a small matter, now take charge of ten cities.” (Luk. 19:17) Or ten acres, ten schools, ten sunrises, or whatever you can imagine and have a knack for.

If that sounds far-fetched, remember that people who are considered worthy (prepared) to take part in that age will be like angels, according to Jesus; and angels are always in charge of something because their will matches God’s. For example, four angels have charge of “the four winds of the earth.” (Rev.7:1)

God doesn’t want to control us; He wants to set us free so He can trust us to do what we want to do. It’s the grandest, most outrageous idea ever. But it isn’t safe or sound until we’re more like God, and what we want to do aligns with what He wants to do.

Therefore, Jesus, the Master of life, is happy to teach us personally. One life at a time, through this partnership, Adam and Eve transform into noble ruler-servants who don’t create the disasters we do today. The day is coming when we really shall not kill, lie, covet, steal, manipulate, consume, or harm. If even Sodom will be restored (Eze. 16:53), nothing is impossible in God’s ongoing adventure with mankind.

If God removed limits, what would you like to be in charge of? What would have to change for you to be trusted with it, and what would you practice to help the change along?

Mawage - from the movie Princess Bride

If you’ve never seen the comedy, The Princess Bride, my humor here will escape you. It’s from the classic wedding scene in an elaborate medieval cathedral where all eyes are on the sober-faced Impressive Clergyman as he’s about to begin the ceremony. You expect his voice to ring out like the Almighty Himself.

Instead, he sounds as if he took a few hits from a helium balloon. And he has a speech impediment. So his first word, “Mawage,” in that wimpy voice is laugh-out-loud funny, and the rest of his spiel goes downhill-silly from there.

Now don’t get me wrong. I think marriage is a seriously wonderful thing. I’ve been married for thirty-two years to a great guy who somehow puts up with me.

In my last post, I mentioned the debate over same-sex marriage and that it’s actually multiple issues—the purpose of marriage being one of them. So this week, I thought I’d make some observations on that.

Why did God create marriage?

Sex or begetting children isn’t the primary reason, although that’s included in marriage. But Adam and Eve didn’t have to be married to beget children. Also, I may be wrong, but I think if God wanted to make sex outside of marriage impossible, He would have designed the sexual response to work only in married couples, much the way adrenaline or sweat kicks in only when the body needs those.

So it seems to me that those who say same-sex marriage is wrong because it violates the purpose of creating children have overlooked something bigger.

The fact that Adam and Eve are male and female is also not the reason for marriage. Rather, the biblically stated reason is that Eve is already part of Adam. She was separated out from him, from his rib.

‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:23-24)

The very word “woman” is derived from the word “man” in both English and Hebrew. Adam is therefore instructed to re-unite with what came from him, and Eve is instructed to re-unite with her origin. Together, they make a complete whole.

In the same way, we were all separated out from God as distinct, but we also go back to God. Jesus said the very same thing regarding himself. “I came from the Father and am going back to the Father.” (Jhn. 16:28) Since Jesus is the first-fruit of multitudes to follow, it applies to us as well.

Thus, God created marriage as a story, a prophecy of togetherness. Humanity as a whole—that is, Jews and Gentiles—reunites with God in agape love the way Adam and Eve reunite. Marital sex simply mirrors this larger spiritual concept of being one in spirit and purpose with Him.

But you don’t have to be married to be part of it; you can be single and not miss out.

(See also my earlier post, Do We Know What God is Joining Together (or Why)? )

What are your thoughts on mawage?

 

Adam et Eve

Image via Wikipedia

God joyfully gave us His image. That image can be defined as personhood, intelligence, and will—the self. God possesses His own personhood, intelligence, and will.

We inherited from Him an inborn capacity to love, to desire truth and fairness, to appreciate beauty and goodness. The ability to think, ask, and be curious is God-given. Consider that without this ability, we wouldn’t be able to seek wisdom or the kingdom of heaven or any of God’s treasures.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule…over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’” (Gen. 1:26) To do this safely and wisely is a matter of will—specifically, good will. Because God possesses flawless personhood, intelligence, and will, whereas we don’t, the epic battle between good and evil ultimately comes down to a battle of good will vs. ill will.

Personhood, intelligence, and will set mankind apart from plants and animals. There are those who say that humans are just a “higher order” of animals; but animals operate primarily by instinct, whereas humans operate primarily by will (although both use a combination of the two). It’s why God charges us with caring for them and the earth. These merits give humans the capacity to be caretakers, to competently rule our affairs, and to nobly serve others the way our Father does—the way He designed us. (more…)