Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Aim of God in History

Image: Casito via Wikimedia Commons
Yesterday I wrote a post (This is What I'm About) which described the two ideas which stand behind most of my ministry and what I think I'm doing with my life. There's a lot of thinking behind each of them that might be worth unpacking a little.

The first was a paraphrase from Dallas Willard. My version runs like this:

The aim of God in history
is the formation of
a community of loving people
with God at its very heart
as its most beautiful inhabitant.*

There's a classic philosophical question: "Why is there something rather than nothing?" Give it a theological twist and it becomes a question about God's aim(s) and purpose(s): "Why would God create something rather than nothing?"

Well, for me, it's all about grace and love. I don't buy the idea that this beautiful, ordered universe is purposeless, a chance accident. Nor do I think that God's purposes are essentially about sin, judgement, and wrath. That means they're also not essentially about salvation - which might sound wrong, but to argue that salvation is a necessary part of God's purposes is to argue that sin itself is also necessary. God's aims are certainly not centred on the church, so his purpose is not church growth, or calling to ministry, or anything of that nature. Most of this stuff is to do with our aims and purposes.

God's purpose is love, and since love is always a gift (it can only be given, not taken) his purpose is also essentially grace. And the fulfilment of that purpose is seen in God-centred community where people love God and love one another. Hence love is the fulfilling of the Torah, since Torah is an attempt to describe the life of that community in one specific historical context.

Of course, a God-centred loving community of persons will require somewhere to live; they need dwelling space. So to create this community, God needs to exercise hospitality and create an abiding place for them - a guest room, if you like. Take a walk one clear night under the stars and look up into the boundless reaches of the galaxies over your head. That's God's idea of a guest room. That's the true extent of grace.

Something to think about ...

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*Dallas' original statement was a little more detailed (too detailed for the back of my business cards!): "The aim of God in history is the creation of an all-inclusive community of loving persons with God himself at the very centre of this community as its prime Sustainer and most glorious Inhabitant."

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