The Great Story and Your Place In It
This is a guest blog by my friend John Bishop.
We are all wounded people. We are wounded from the Fall and wounded from our own failures and follies. How many of us look over the landscape of our past with great regret – seeing again those moments of failure that stand as monuments to the foolishness of our decisions and seeing the hurt and damage done to others?
There are wounds we have experienced because of the foolishness and meanness of others. For some of us those wounds come in our childhood and for others in our adulthood. There are wounds from divorce, the physical and mental wounds of war, the wounds of business or personal failure, the wounds of losing a loved one to an accident or an addiction. We are all wounded people.
Behind those wounds, however, there is a bigger story. In fact, it is the greatest story ever told! It is the story of the epic battle between good and evil, between the King of Kings and the evil one – the serpent of old, the liar, deceiver and accuser. This war rages and in its wake none of us can escape being wounded.
This great story, and this unfolding battle both began before Creation. Genesis tells us that “the Lord God planted a Garden toward the east, in Eden…..and out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”(Genesis 2:8-9) It was into this garden that the Lord God placed Adam and gave him the commandment not to eat from this tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Evil was never part of the Garden of Eden but knowledge of evil was the ever-present possibility that hung sweet and accessible in the fruit of this one tree. Evil existed before creation, before the garden. It is the result of a cosmic rebellion. When Satan left heaven he took nothing of God with him. Instead, he took the very opposite of everything that is God.
God is love – Satan took hatred
God is light – Satan took darkness
God is life – Satan took death
God is peace – Satan took war
God is unity – Satan is division
God is wholeness – Satan took brokenness
From the moment of Satan’s rebellion neither heaven nor earth have known the absence of warfare. It rages today and all our wounds bear a collective witness to the one great cosmic reality that we are born and born-again into a world at war.
The Cross stands across all time as that Great Sentinel reminding us of this war and reassuring us that in the end victory will belong to Jesus and His followers. Between now and then, however, His followers are called to fight. As members of His Body, His Bride, His Church we are to engage in the war against the gates of hell. Our battle is with the evil unleashed in the cosmos as a result of Satan’s rebellion and the invasion of that rebellion into our creation.
The message of Jesus is a message of redemption but it is also a message of restoration. The process of making all things new is underway and begins with each follower of Jesus engaging in the great process of being transformed, which means being restored into the likeness of Jesus in whose image we all were originally created. We live in the midst of warfare that opposes this redemption and restoration. When the Church fails to understand the reality of this warfare, it is marginalized and impotent.
The call today for the followers of Jesus is to get into the battle for the redemption and restoration of His people and the re-establishment of His Kingdom. Interestingly it is when we engage in this battle we find the healing for our wounds for which we so deeply long. This, like the rest of the life of Jesus, is a matter of opposites. In Jesus we: live by dying, receive by giving, lead by serving, become first by being last, and are exalted by being humble.
In the kingdom of God, healing comes from getting into the battle not by leaving it or pretending it doesn’t exist. When the battle ends in final victory there will be a time of telling stories of our battles and our scars, and then listening again to Him tell the stories of His battles and His scars that won our redemption and our restoration. What a time of storytelling that will be!