Lush Family Home Page: Myth #4
CHRISTIANS ARE OTHER-WORLDLY AND IRRELEVANT TO LIFE IN THE 20TH CENTURY
This accusation often rings true. Many Christians certainly seem other-worldly and even irrelevant. But they do not reflect the main emphasis of the Bible, upon which Christian teaching is founded. Far from being other-worldly, biblical Christianity emphasizes the importance of this world in three main ways.
First of all, the Bible claims that the entire universe is created by God and is therefore good and important. Far from negating or devaluing the world, the Bible teaches that God loves his creation and sustains its continued structure and existence. The world exists to manifest God's glory, and he rejoices in what he had made.
But the importance of he world is supported also by the doctrine of the incarnation, the Christian teaching that God became man in Jesus Christ. The authentic humanity of Jesus is constantly affirmed by the Bible. he was not some spiritual manifestation or temporary avatar, but a real life, flesh and blood person.
But why the incarnation? Because creation went wrong. Humanity has chosel evil in rebellion against its Creator, and the world is no longer totally good. Yet God has not given up on us. This is the tremendous message of Christianity. God loves us to the point of becoming a human being to free us from evil, to bring salvation.
The salvation God offers constitutes the third way in which biblical Christianity affirms the importance of this world. Though Christianity is often characterized as a pie-in-the-sky religion, concerned with a hereafter of disembodied existence in an ethereal heaven, this is a gross distortion of its message. there is certainly a future hope of the "kingdom of God." But the Bible describes this kingdom in the most concrete terms. It promises the resurrection of the body and the renewal of the entire creation. Salvation is holistic. Christianity's final vision is of the eradication of evil from the universe. Christ came to restore the creation to what it was meant to be, and that includes every aspect of human (and non-human) life.
This means that there is an important sense in which Christians must be other-worldly. Precisely because they envision a world free of evil, both at the beginning and at the end of history, they cannot accept this world at face value. they are other-worldy in that they look beyond the distortions and pretensions of this world to the one which is to come. They know there is something better.
But that means that they are fundamentally this-worldly. Christians are called upon to oppose evil in all of its individual and socio-cultural manifestations. they work toward healing, love, and injustice in this world. In the context of our modern 20th century civilization of violence, oppression and narcissism, this is neither other-worldy nor irrevelant.
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