God’s Goal for the World

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 Helga Weber via Compfight

In a world that is all about doom and gloom…

In a time when we never seem to have enough…

In the midst of messages that tell us that we don’t measure up…

In an age when we are more interested in whether or not we can own automatic weapons than we are in how we can serve the poor…

And even in a church that finds itself embattled, argumentative, and wounded by “friendly fire”…

In the midst of all this, God is moving. There is an underground stream of hope drawing all of creation toward redemption. In the midst of the sensationalist barbs, attacks, reports of war, a most life-filled truth flows in history, one that we must not ignore or our souls will suffer. Here is a brief excerpt from Greg’s Repenting of Religion which calls the church into this truth.

The goal of creation is succinctly summed up in a profound prayer Jesus said just prior to his crucifixion:

For [the disciples’] sake I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth. I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me. —John 17:19-21, emphasis added.

Let’s examine this carefully. Jesus prayed that his disciples would be one just as he and the Father are one. The loving oneness of the church is to reflect the loving oneness of the Trinity. Indeed, the loving oneness of the church is to participate in the loving oneness of the Trinity: “As you … are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us.” As we participate in God’s loving oneness, we replicate this loving oneness among ourselves. And as we replicate this loving oneness, the world sees and believes that Jesus Christ is sent from the Father. The world knows the reality of the triune God because they encounter the love of the triune God in us.

This prayer expressed not only God’s goal for the church but the goal of all creation. Indeed, Jesus prayed that his church would be “sanctified in the truth” (John 17:19)—the truth that they are called to be one in the Father and Son—so that the world would believe in him and thus become part of the church. The church is to be set apart (sanctified) not by possessing a special religious piety but by participating in and manifesting the perfect eternal love of God. As Bonhoeffer said, “Jesus calls men, not to a new religion, but to life.” This participation in God’s life distinguishes disciples from others only so disciples can invite all others to share in it. …

God’s goal is that humans, when filled with God’s unsurpassable love and eternal life, would replicate God on an individual level and overflow with love back to God, to themselves, and to their neighbors. As God gives his life to us, we manifest the fullness of his life in ascribing infinite worth to God as our source (worship); we affirm the infinite worth we ourselves have because of what God has done for us in Christ (self-love); and we affirm the infinite worth others have because of what Christ as done for them (neighbor-love).  (Repenting of Religion, 28,30)

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