Tuesday, June 23, 2009

“sons of men” and the Son of Man

We were born into this world as sons of men. Created by God from the dust of the earth, the first man had a close affinity to the created order. We are a part of this world. We breathe its air and drink its water and find ourselves at home here.

But we were also created with an affinity for the Creator. God Himself breathed into Adam the “breath of life.” He and Eve are “image of God” in a way that distinguishes them from all the rest of the created order.

When Eve and Adam sinned, they placed their relationship with the created order over their relationship with the Creator. They opted for the fruit and the flesh rather than the life of the soul that lives with/from God. And ever since, sons of men naturally live according to the flesh.

“Flesh” in the Bible is characterized by brevity. It withers like the grass and fades like the flower. It lives for the moment, and disregards eternal concerns. That is how the sons of men look at life. That is how they behave.

Think, then, of how the sons of men speak – the nature of their words. Our words are worth little because they are designed to carry the moment at the expense of the eternal. The sons of men do not speak easily in terms of timeless truths, but rather in bytes intended to make an impression, leverage a response, and manipulate the situation for our advantage or comfort.

How different then, is the Son of Man. He steps into this world, like the sons of men, with an affinity to the created order. He was, after all, “born of a woman.” He was part of a culture, speaking their language, and practicing their customs. But, unlike the sons of men, his primary relationship was not with the created order via the flesh, but with the Creator, via the Spirit.

He words show his distinction from the sons of men. He dares to forgive sins, something the sons of men find strange, even offensive. He claims to be Lord of the Sabbath, whereas the calendar and the week rules us. He stands above, as Lord of the created order, whereas we, as sons of men, are captivated by it.

The Son of Man came to deliver the sons of men from their bondage, to restore a proper priority of relationship with God. And the Son of Man will come again, with great power and glory, to speak in judgment with decisiveness and clarity, in perfect righteousness. sons of men can not fathom that kind of clarity from the morass of doubt and relativism in which they operate.

And so, those who call themselves Christians have an important question to answer: will I follow the sons of men, or the Son of Man? We will do one or the other. The two paths do not run the same direction.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Genesys, and Exodys

Genesys is the name of a health care facility in our area. Cute. But I think they oversell themselves a bit. I am truly thankful for medical science, and for recent breakthroughs and improvements, and I hope for more. I appreciate that hospitals are now competing for customers, and that they are trying hard to put their best foot forward.

But their theology is lacking. And the marketing department is running the show. Don’t worry. They are not alone. It is happening at businesses, and schools, and in churches.

“Genesis” means “beginnings.” The book of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament of the Bible, starts with the words, “In the beginning, …” It is a book about the beginnings of the created order, spoken into existence by the Word of God. It follows with the story of the beginning of the human race, with God Himself personally and intimately involved in the formation of both male and female. Genesis goes on and tells the story of the beginning of a people through a childless couple, and the beginning of covenant promise and commitment.

I wonder, are there any of these senses in which Genesys thought it was appropriate to co-opt the word, “Genesis?”

Genesis also includes less cheery beginnings. It records graphically the first sin, both silly and stupid. It chronicles the rapid rise of sin into evil, and God’s response in the ‘whelming flood. The book of Genesis also does not whitewash the close-to-home evils of betrayal and envy and bitterness and lies.

I hardly think Genesys wants that kind of association.

And I wonder, is the backside of the hospital call Exodys. If you enter the front door with hopes and promises of all that can be done, what happens when all that can be done isn’t enough? What happens when the cancer wins; when the bleeding can’t be stopped, and when the treatment for one ailment kills you with another?

“Exodus” means “departure.” So, in a sense, Exodys might be a better name than Genesys. Everybody wants just to get out of there and go home. But we all know that there is a more serious departure about which we seldom think, and which does not fit into anyone’s marketing plan.

We are all going to die. We will all make an exit, timely or untimely. The exodus will happen whether we think we are ready or not. Maybe the hospital won’t tell us about the inevitability of death, but someone should. And if we are going to be ready to die, then we need a new beginning, another genesis.

If you want a good Exodus, you need a new Genesis – to be part of a new creation; a member of a new humanity; birthed into a new family; welcomed into covenant community. You need a cure, not for cancer, but for sin, whether sin that is attached to the cosmos, or to the human race, or to you personally.

Genesis and Exodus. They belong together. They should be attended separately.