I’ve already said that no two books have ever gone together so well than NT Wright’s “After You Believe” and Nicholas Carr’s “The Shallows”. Carr presents an eye-opening case for us to be more aware of the changes happening not only within our brain, but actually TO our brain due to the informational web era we live in; the fact that our grey matter is constantly in flux, being wired and rewired according to our practices and thoughts. Wright presents a call to a renewed vision of Christian “Virtue”, reminding us that being made a New Creation involves practices and thoughts that we must work at in order that they become second nature over time. That our lives here and now can be practicing the language of the Kingdom to the point where we citizens begin to transform the world around us even now, as we ourselves are transformed.
One example Wright brings up are the Beatitudes. Most of us have heard this section of Matthew chapter 5, where Jesus says “Blessed are those…”, etc. Some translations actually translate the word “happy are those…”, which Wright quickly points out is fruit of a misunderstanding of what it means to follow Christ. As Wright states:
“one of the things that marks Jesus out over against Aristotle in terms of the source and driving energy of the “virtues” – is that this includes “happiness,” but it includes it as the result of something else – namely, the loving action of the creator God.”
He goes on to talk about the fact that these beatitudes are neither an exercise in legalism (a checklist of things to do if you’re following Christ well), nor are the verses that follow (avoiding not just murder, but hatred, not just adultery but lust, etc.) a cry for “really meaning it, not just going through motions.”
In both cases, we hear a calling toward what Wright labels “eschatological authenticity”. That the language and natures of Kingdom living are opened up for us in Jesus Christ to participate in now. It will be a struggle, and we’ll have to pray for grace and strength, but it “is at least now within reach.”
Wright point out: “You can’t collapse the whole question of “how to behave” into the command “It must come naturally, otherwise it isn’t authentic.” Jesus puts it the other way around: he says, in effect, “Follow me, and authenticity will begin to happen.”
When God created human in the garden, we believe He created in His own image. We are created to be the bearers of God’s image into all creation. To reflect God’s glory into the world. In every area of our life. In every season. In every time of day. As a husband, a father, a youth pastor, a friend, a teacher, a student, a brother, a son, etc. To carry the genuine humanity God is calling us to become into each area, and to live accordingly.
To carry faith into situations where others have let go long ago. To bring a solid hope to a world that has experienced far too many broken promises. And to Love in worlds where hurt, brokenness, and suffering have taken place for so long, genuine love is like an ancient myth.
As we do this in the name of Jesus, we bear the image of God in a world that was created for us to do so…and all things are becoming New…