Monday, November 24, 2008

Surprised by Hope

During my recent trip to California, I read N.T. Wright's latest book Surprised by Hope. It was a pretty powerful book dealing with death, life after death, and life after life after death. And no, I didn't just repeat myself. Wright is brilliant to say the least. His knowledge of the New Testament is pretty much without equal. Anyway, there are probably a dozen things I could write about from that book but I think I'll limit it to two posts.

Very early in the book, as in page 6, Wright points out what is one of his primary reasons for writing this book: One's view of death and what happens thereafter are critical to how we live life in the present. He spends the better part of the book explaining what he means, but let me try and flesh it out a bit here. If you believe that after death there is nothing - then this life becomes about having all the fun you can, indulging in any and every pleasure you want. If you believe that God exists and will ultimately forgive all people, then once again how one lives in this life is not all that critical. If you believe that after death, God will ultimately destroy all of earth and as a Christian you will be transported to heaven, then what you do on this earth today really isn't all that important. Who cares about being "green" or recycling or any of that. It's all going to be burned up anyway, right? For that matter, what good is it to seek justice or work for the poor or any of that when the physical world, along with all of its problems will one day just go away? Wright suggests a different option however. He suggests that the biblical model is that heaven will one day come to earth and God's kingdom will ultimately reign here in this place. If that's the case, then our lives here matter a great deal. For Wright, life in the kingdom here and now is about making the reign of Christ a reality here in the present. It's doing and being the answer to the prayer "Your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven." If this is ultimately God's intent, then our lives become about partnering with him in that endeavor.

The hope of the gospel isn't just a future state in some distant place. The gospel is hopeful now, here, in this place.


I have been wanting to tackle this one... but need to plow through a couple other books first. Thanks for sharing about it here...

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