So. What is true?
Confession: At this moment, the conversation moves above my head. I feel like a little child, bewildered and jerked around. It’s not so easy trying to unravel a core philosophy from the fabric of your beliefs. A lot of good threads get twisted by mistake, and there are holes.
But I will say this: I don’t believe anymore that Jesus created matter as a temporary inconvenience. I believe He has a plan for it that supersedes time and mortality. I think there’s something crucial and permanent about the fact that God put His Spirit in our earthly bodies and took our flesh upon Himself.
I think physical stuff belongs to Jesus. He uses it, both to accomplish his purposes and to remind us of his presence. He became part of it, taking on the weakness and tears, the blood, the breath, the sweat of mankind. And astonishingly, he is going to redeem it. Scripture says “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption” (see Romans 8:18-25).
We’re leery of the physical because we fear its tendency to distract us. Following our analogy of the sweetheart who is given roses, we know girls who get so lost in smelling the flowers that they fail to notice the lover when he walks into the room.
We can hardly imagine anything so silly. Yet it’s a very real concern.
This Lover is braver than most. He has the courage to remain invisible Himself while giving His Bride a dazzling and oh-so-tangible cosmos in which to play.
But wouldn’t we be equally foolish to stick His roses away in the back closet, afraid to touch them lest we begin to love them? We try to minimize them, to put them in their place, to remind ourselves how quickly they will fade anyway, but instead find them filling our minds. I must not love the roses. I must not love the roses. Yet they are just the right shade of red, and their petals are so velvet, and when we pass the closed closet door, the aroma is breathtaking. I must not love the roses! With this mantra, we find it shameful or impossible to admit that we really do love the roses. A lot.
Who doesn’t love His gifts—falling leaves, newborn babies, the delightful scent of coffee, a warm house on a cold night, the feel of carpet underfoot, a sip of hot tea, a crackling fire…
There is absolutely a place to take a break from the roses in order to turn your eyes on the Lover. That’s what fasting is all about. But not because food isn’t good!
The earth is the Lord’s.
When a girl tucks the roses into the back closet, downplaying them as insignificant, she misses the whole reason why He gave them. He wanted them to brighten her eyes, warm her heart, draw her to Him. She is so busy not loving them she forgets Love gave them.
I think Satan probably doesn’t care much how he distracts us. He’d like to twist this good gift of physicality one way or another—obsession or guilt.
Here is a song I find beautiful, but do not understand—
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
What if He doesn’t want them strangely dim? What if He wants them sparkling, radiant, dripping with His glory and grace?
“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!'” — Abraham Kuyper
The earth is the Lord’s!
For further reading, I recommend a book I just found—Surprised by Hope: Rethinking heaven, the resurrection, and the mission of the church, by N. T. Wright