7-10 My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. (1 John 4:7-8 MSG)
The days that we are living in has definitely allowed us to think about essentials. Much has changed, and there is an uncertainty about what will remain. Aspects of society and culture have been shaken. Our worldview have been challenged. It feels like we are being called to a great unknown.
The Bible tells us that Abraham was an individual who has an experience with God. Thankfully, Abraham was listening and began his journey with Yahweh. It is interesting to notice that in Abraham’s journey God seemed to separate him from the known foundation of the day.
Abraham was part of a vibrant culture life. Ancient Mesopotamia was a hotbed of civilization and human culture. It was vibrant, artistic, and systematic. Mesopotamian culture had legal, economic, social systems and religious structure. The Biblical account of Job also highlights some of the philosophical understandings and worldview pertaining to this time period. Archaeology tells us that the Ur-Nammu Law Code is considered the oldest known written code of laws pertaining to humanity. I am not an expert by any means when it comes to Mesopotamian culture, but I do know that it was indeed a structured and established society that had foundations.
Like Mesopotamian, every human culture has a ‘way of doing life’ that has been handed down from generation to generation. Fundamental to any culture is a set of beliefs, experiences and practices that seek to grasp and express the ultimate nature of all things. This set of belief’s, experiences and practices often establish a worldview that shapes and gives meaning to life. Oftentimes, this same worldview claims final authority pertaining ‘the ways of life’.
Much could be said about how COVID-19 is challenging and changing foundational elements of present day culture and society. Like you, I have been able to re-evaluate many things during these days. We all have had ‘time’ to think, act, and evaluate the ways of North American life. I pray that you have been able to handle all the needed adjustments. I also pray that you have had some time to evaluate and examine beliefs, experiences and practices concerning your cultural worldview.
We all have a culture, and we are all impacted by culture. In fact the ‘gospel’ itself is never culture-free. The Bible was written within a specific cultural worldview. Jesus Christ of Nazareth was a first-century Palestinian Jew. Jesus communicated in concepts and language known to the receptor culture of the time. He did so in order to bring about a radical contradiction (revelation) that would call into question everything pertaining to the Greco-Roman ‘way of life’. This ‘upside down gospel’ of Jesus was not simply a message addressed to leaders in society, government and religion. Jesus seems to walk away from the pulpit spot-light when such occasions arose. The ‘way of life’ for Jesus was much more than talk. It was a revolutionary way of being human.
The recent response by millions of front-line workers has been a testament to humanity’s drive to combat the evils of COVID-19. Our church recently thanked a group of those workers by sending them gift-cards. It was a small token expressing our appreciation for their committed stance against the darkness of the disease.
Similarly, Jesus and His new community of disciples challenged evil whoever they found it, and it wasn’t merely an inward spiritual challenge. Yes, Jesus regularly denounced hypocrisy and blasted the religious leadership. But He also challenged the economic establishment, overturned social values and specifically addressed customs related to women. The Way of Jesus was a radical confrontation to the fallen systems and cultural powers of the world. His call to ‘repent’ and do a U-turn meant that individuals needed to centre their existence and ‘way of life’ around His. This ‘gospel’ of Jesus specifically refers to a series of events that have its center and foundation upon Him. His story is what we call the gospel, and His gospel was all about the Kingdom of God.
Jesus spoke much about the Kingdom of God. Perhaps this was because Jesus knew how good the Creator intends culture and civilization to be. Who better to tell us about the Way of God than God Himself. Who better to show us the Way of God than God Himself. Who better to kick start a revolution against the fallen systems of this world than God Himself. Who better to call people to a new way of being human than the One who Created all things.
I am convinced that the mission of Jesus seems to centre on all areas of society and culture where sin had introduced brokenness. We continue to see the fall-out of humanity’s idolatrous choice to walk away from the One who gives us life. In the wake of turning away from God, we have embraced transgression. Our broken world continues to remind us about this cosmic wrong-doing. However, all is not lost in the battle against the chaotic darkness that surrounds us. Hope breaks through every time someone combats the evils of the world. Hope walks in the room through acts of self-sacrificial love.
We need to thank the millions of front-line workers who are daily operating amidst the evils of COVID-19. Their dedication and commitment to love’s self-sacrificial way is inspiring and significant. This self-emptying is reminiscent of another who operated similarly. For God so love the world, He gave, and continues to give.
The evils of the world and darkness of disease is a problem that is to be addressed and overcome by God’s powerful love. In fact, I believe that His Spirit is seeking to and fro throughout the earth to find people who will operate in this capacity. I believe we are seeing it within the many who operate according to the Divine Way of self-sacrifice.
At the end of the age, millions may ask, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:37-40 MSG).
This the way of love. This is the way of Jesus. May His Way be our foundation now, and forevermore.
This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
11-12 My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love! (1 John 4:9-12 MSG)