See the Story: Redemption

“Worldviews are like belly buttons. Everyone has one, but we don’t talk about them very often. Or perhaps it would be better to say that worldviews are like cerebellums: everyone has one and we can’t live without them, but not everyone knows that he has one.” – James Anderson, What’s Your Worldview?

As teachers in a Christian school, our job requires us to be acutely aware of our worldview as we lead students to explore God’s world from the perspective of math, science, literature, history, art, or physical education.

One habit we can intentionally cultivate is that of looking at the world through the Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration lens. The narrative arc of the Story of God gives us the true context for everything happening in the world. It equips us with powerful corrective lenses that help us see any news headline in light of God and his activity.

I’ve done this with my seniors by sending them to the New York Times Morning Briefing, a curated list of headlines that updates readers on the major news of the day. I give my students a few minutes to read through the headlines and pick a story that interests them. Then I ask them to look at the selected story through this lens:

  • Creation – What is good about this topic? What truth about God, man, or the world is evident in this story? What would Christ affirm here? What parts conform to God’s created intention?
  • Fall – How has sin corrupted this? What consequences of man’s rebellion are evident here? What would Christ grieve? What would he challenge?
  • Redemption – What good news is there for this subject because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus? Where is there an opportunity to call people to repentance (forsaking sin and idolatry) and faith (trusting in Christ and his promises)?
  • Restoration – Already: In what ways (or to what extent) can we experience a foretaste of God’s Kingdom in this area now? What would it look like for God to assert his rule and reign over this area of life? Not Yet: What will this issue ultimately be like in the age to come, when Jesus makes all things new?

After walking through this process a few times with my students, I had an “Ah-ha!” moment when I recognized that this process of worldview analysis was empowering us to live as disciple-makers and idolatry-discerners. As we peruse the headlines of the day, we’re niether wringing our hands in unbelieving fear nor looking down our noses in sanctimonious judgment; we are identifying brokenness in order to discern how to herald or announce the good news of Jesus to the world.

Where there is beauty, there is an opportunity to affirm the goodness of God.

Where there is injustice, there is an opportunity to declare that there is a King who rules forever in righteousness.

Wher there is sin, there is an opportunity to beckon sinners to repentance.

This didn’t come quickly or easily for my students. In fact, several admitted that they struggled to see how their faith applied outside of Sunday mornings, Wednesday nights, or Bible class. Yet this is what the world desperately needs: Christians who have a keen ability to see how the Gospel of Jesus applies to the morning headlines.

Example: Global Migrant Crisis

Here’s a recent example. The Briefing on Wednesday, October 26 had this to say about the global migrant crisis:

More than 3,700 people have died this year crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe, the United Nations said, a sharp rise poised to surpass last year’s total. A U.N. spokesman said smuggling was “on an almost industrial scale.”

In France, the clearing of the camp known as the Jungle continues, but hostility awaits many of its residents as they are taken to new shelters across the country.

Besides being an obvious reminder that we live in a fallen world wracked with sin and its consequences, this crisis presents Christians with an opportunity to herald the good news of Jesus to the world.

We recognize the moral evil fueling the conflicts that are displacing millions of refugees. We recognize the racial hostility migrants face as they are relocated to new communities throughout France. And so we see an opportunity to call people to repent of this pride, greed, and racism.

But good news is so much more than condemning the sin. (Seeing that the world is broken is different than knowing what–or who–the remedy is.) So what does good news sound like for refugees? The Apostle Paul applied the Gospel to issues of racial hostility in Ephesians 2 (emphasis added):

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—[12] remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. [13] But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. [14] For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility [15] by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, [16] and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. [17] And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. [18] For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. [19] So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.

Notice how Paul declares that Jesus Christ himself–and especially his death–is good news for strangers and aliens, for those who were ethnically separated from the people of God. The good news isn’t a guarantee that you will be warmly welcomed in the country to which you flee for refuge, but it does mean that peace with God and a warm welcome is available among the people of God. And that welcome is available to absolutely anyone who will trust in Jesus.

The Gospel really is good news for refugees. And it’s good news for Christians living in communities were refugees are resettling. Jesus Christ “is our peace” and “has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (v. 14). It was true for Jews and Gentiles, and it’s true today for Americans, Europeans, Syrians, and Somalis.

So now that we know this, how will we empower our students to announce this to the world?

 

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