August 11, 2014

Oikonomia


"What is our salvation for?"

Talk about a massive question. Sometimes I'll hear it put another way: Most of us know what we're saved from--sin, evil, hell in order to get Christ, his imputed purity and righteousness, and entry to heaven--and that's all wonderful, but there's more to it than just that. We need to ask, "What are we saved to?"

We like to throw around the fact that as Christians we're "in the world, but not of the world." OK, cool. I have no problem with that... but for many of us we don't know what that means really, and we spend a lot of time arguing with one another over it. We see it primarily played out in one of three ways often:
  1. The Bunker Mentality (a.k.a. Fortification). I build myself a nice little haven to duck and cover into while shutting out the rest of the world with all it's worldliness. 
  2. Domination Mentality. I'm here to dominate and condemn the world with all it's worldliness. You're so going down.
  3. Just Going with it Mentality (a.k.a Accommodation). I'm just going to give into the world and go with all it's worldliness. No rocking the boat here.   
But none of these three mentalities or ways of seeing the world are actually how God tells us to view or act in this world--a world He created in the first place.

It does not take a genius to look out into the current state of culture and see that Christians have lost their voice in a great many ways. Not all, but a good portion of that is actually on us: We've lost people's trust in general. And instead of addressing and changing that we've just boiled more in our us versus them mentality. Which just ends up being a downward spiral if it's left there. It's in this we see those three mentalities arise--all of which though have this great sense of urgency behind them all.  

Urgency is a real killer though.

Generational change in the Bible is never what I would define as 'urgent.' Generational change--thus changing culture and the world--usual takes roughly 70 years in scripture. 70 YEARS. That's not urgent. So some of you can actually cool down and stop freaking out as much as you do. Big change is reached through many, many, many baby steps. You and I may only move the ball forward a couple of steps in our lifetimes before our children take over the movement. That does not mean our role in it wasn't important--it was--it's just not for our eyes to see it while alive. Think about all the men and women who were had amazing vision of a better future, and yet they never lived to see it's fruition, but their children's children did.

The fourth mentality--a more biblical view of the world looks a lot like exile. Meaning we're all strangers roaming in search of home; all of us Christians were at some point estranged before we encountered the Savior and the promise of heaven (home)--of one day will be joined with earth once more, and all made right.

Exile is something strewn all over the scriptures. But we never see God's people in exile going into bunker, domination, or accommodation mode--or at least they weren't supposed to. They were in the world, but as God's children--not of the world... and yet still sent into the world. We have to have that third bit in order to understand what us Christians are here for. What we were saved to. The weeping prophet wrote about it:
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (Jeremiah 29:7)
The fourth mentality, exile, means we Christians are sent into the world to seek it's betterment, which is then for our betterment. We're sent to heal and redeem; to take care and better everyone's welfare. We're here to point to someone better, to point to our home: Jesus Christ. We're here to point the way just as John the Baptist did. We're here to plant and cultivate seeds; we don't always live to see the fruit. And that's ok! Someone has to do the work before the harvest. 
Prepare the way of the LORD.
The way. That's where 'oikonomia' comes in. It's the Greek word for house management or stewardship. God's oikonomia is all of creation; it's the house he built and created--his economy. Then you and I we were created to manage and steward it, so we likewise in imaging a Creator who made an economy, turn and made smaller modes of economies: families, institutions, schools, our jobs, etc. We're meant to steward and manage these. 

Prior to the fall all of these economies were in perfect unity and harmony with one another. That didn't last long and it still remains fractured, but now as Christians, we're here to work towards redeeming and restoring oikonomia as it once was. We're here to be gift givers. Because God so loved the world He GAVE...

We don't hide away, fight, or blend into the crowd, but rather we shine like lights--we're here to give of heat, light, warmth. It's in this gift giving we seek the welfare of the city--of the world. When we give, serve, steward our venues and others--all of us benefit. That's what we were saved to in all of its many facets and dimensions.

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TGC with Flannel has been hosting a free viewing of the film series For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles. Together with a couple others we've been watching along, discussing, and reflecting on the ideas. Highly recommend this series for small groups, or even for individuals.

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