Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead . . .
1 Peter 1:3
This Beautiful but Broken World
If you’re awake and paying the slightest bit of attention you will have noticed that we live in a beautiful but very broken world. A few examples come immediately to mind. This reality was suddenly and forcefully confirmed to us by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that recently struck northern Japan. An entire nation shaken and now reeling; one moment life is beautiful, the next moment it’s very broken. The full extent of the loss suffered will not be known for a very long time.
Then just yesterday, I received word that the wife of a longtime friend and colleague had passed away. This was not sudden. Hers was a four year battle with cancer. Still, you are never quite prepared to receive that message. A lovely, gifted woman taken in mid-life. She is now at rest. He is left with four children at home. Words fail. Prayer turns to groaning
Today, I write from a nation in southeast Asia where freedom of religion is guaranteed to all citizens; however, things are not what they seem to be. Freedom to gather together with other like-minded people is not part of the deal. Churches must register with the government and those that do must clear their teaching with the authorities. Those that do not register are in a vulnerable position, at the mercy of the powers that be. Some leaders end up spending time behind bars. Lives are disrupted. All citizens, in this nation that pays lip service to religious freedom, must carry ID papers on which their religious allegiance must be declared. Any response other than “none” makes it very difficult for one to get into a preferred school or a decent job. You can forget about working in government service altogether. Yet the church continues to grow in spite of all such efforts to control it. A broken system yet beauty finds a way to emerge.
Paul wrote in his letter to the Christians in Rome that all creation is groaning as it awaits redemption from its bondage. This is a remarkable reminder that God’s saving work through Jesus Christ goes beyond the rescue of individual men and women as vital as that piece of redemption certainly is. God’s intention is not to take a relative few from this broken world to be with him forever but to actually make this broken world and its people right once again. Now that’s redemption! In fact, the global dimension of God’s promised action is so radical that the Bible calls it “new creation.” This “new creation” was launched at Jesus’ resurrection and it will come to its promised fulfillment when he returns to reign over all he’s created and redeemed. This is the biblical hope and it’s very good news, indeed. This beautiful but broken world will be made right!
This Holy Week we celebrate that God has already taken action in Jesus Christ to achieve all his purposes for us and for all creation. Nevertheless, like Paul, we now find ourselves in the time between Jesus’ resurrection victory and all things made new. It’s a strange time, a time of vulnerability, groaning and yet hope. What to do?
“God,” Paul writes, “was reconciling the world to himself in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:19).” Now he’s committed the good news of this reconciliation to us. God has already done what only God could do to bring about his new creation. Now it is left for us to do what we must do; to make complete the sufferings of Christ by loving this broken world and its hurting peoples in Jesus’ name. This is how we understand our calling at ServLife.
At ServLife we seek to love and serve in word and deed in some of the most challenging places and among the most vulnerable people. We do so in grateful celebration for what God has already done and in hopeful anticipation of all that he has promised to do. As you contemplate God’s saving love this Easter season will you also consider joining with us in partnership and participation that together we might bring God’s kind of change to this beautiful but broken world?
He is risen!
For the sake of those now hosting me in this nation I will leave my present location a mystery. I’ll be here for several more days and then in Singapore before moving on at the end of this month to be with our people and projects in Nepal and India. Next month I’ll give a report on what is happening there.