Commonplace Book #25

You are not oiling the wheels of a machine that’s about to roll over a cliff.  You are not restoring a great painting that’s shortly going to be thrown on the fire.  You are not planting roses in a garden that’s about to be dug up for a building site.  You are–strange though it may seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection itself–accomplishing something that will become in due course part of God’s new world.  Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art or music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of his creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or to walk; every act of care and nature, of comfort and support, for one’s fellow human beings and for that matter one’s fellow nonhuman creatures; and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honored in the world–all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make.

NT Wright, Surprised by Hope, 208.

8 thoughts on “Commonplace Book #25

  1. Dear Unicorn,
    This passage does not necessarily mean that it isn’t all going to burn. II Peter 3:7 indicates it will. N.T. Wright’s quasi-poetic writing here might be more sermonic and inspirational than doctrinal. At least I hope it is.
    James

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  2. As far as the tone of the passage by Bishop Wright, I am disappointed? If I had simply read it without knowing who the author was, I would have thought it to be a bunch of touchy-feely heterodox syrup. My former estimation of Wright is taking a slight hit as I read some of these excerpts in Surprised by Hope. I am almost like the impressionable little boy who heard about the old baseball betting scandal and approached his hero, “Tell me it isn’t true, Joe.” (Was that Shoeless Joe Jackson? I can’t recall,)

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    • Oh, You Have a Verse?
      I have experienced II Peter 3:7 in the context of The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay, and have seen and experienced its fruits:
      Despair (Why Bother? It’s All Gonna Burn…)
      Hopelessness (Why Bother? It’s All Gonna Burn…)
      Worthlessness (Why achieve anything? It’s All Gonna Burn…)
      Passivity and Fatalism (ditto)

      When The World Ends Tomorrow and It’s All Gonna Burn, don’t expect anyone to plan ahead or dare great things. All you’ll get is a Neo-Gnostic, sitting with hands folded doing nothing except becoming so Spritual(TM) they cease to be human.
      Why strive for anything? It’s All Gonna Burn.
      Why improve anything? It’s All Gonna Burn.
      Why dare anything? It’s All Gonna Burn.
      Why CREATE Anything? It’s All Gonna Burn.

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      • Dear Unicorn,
        No one said not to do anything temporally positive but simply to keep in perspective that this world is under a curse. To quote Hamlet, “The play’s the thing…..”. This material world simply supplies the stage and the props.
        I do realize that there is always a gnostic danger in one position while there is a logical worldly and even pantheistic risk to Bishop Wright’s stand.
        One of the saddest verses in the Pauline corpus follows:
        “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world….”. I I Timothy 4:10
        James

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  3. You are not oiling the wheels of a machine that’s about to roll over a cliff. You are not restoring a great painting that’s shortly going to be thrown on the fire. You are not planting roses in a garden that’s about to be dug up for a building site. You are–strange though it may seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection itself–accomplishing something that will become in due course part of God’s new world.

    WE NEED THIS TO COUNTER THE “IT’S ALL GONNA BURN” ATTITUDE!

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