Thursday, February 28, 2013

God Fulfills His Own Eternal Desire With the Creation of Man

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26–27 ESV)
““I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:20–26 ESV)

We Pray Because God Prays

God has always existed in divine fellowship Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is persons and that is why humans are persons with form, emotion, and the need for community. We pray because God prays. Usually prayer is equated only with petition, and while it is true that petition is part of it, prayer is first about communion. Communion and petition begin with and spring forth from within God. We see this very clearly in Genesis 1:26 when God says, “let us make man in our image”. "Let us" is a clear indication of plurality, and that God is requesting participation from God in the divine purpose of creating man in his own image. Prayer begins with God speaking to God in order to actualize his eternal purpose. Man was not created in the image of angels or any other creature and the fact that there is plurality in God is not only suggested with the use of “Us” in God’s reference to himself but also in the very creation of mankind as man and woman: “God made man in his own image, male and female he created them”. It is not a singular that is in the image of God but a plurality of persons who would exist in fellowship as “one flesh”. This unity of persons is imaging the divine persons of the Godhead, who is a plurality in unity. 

This communion of the Godhead is nowhere more reflected than in the astounding prayer of Jesus in John 17:1-26. Jesus the Son is praying to the Father. The son is pre-existent according to verse 17:3 “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” and in 17:24 “ loved me before the foundation of the world.” When we overhear the Son speaking in ernest with his Father we are seeing the continuation of an eternal dialogue, one that harkens back to Genesis 1:26.

God Desires

In John 17:24 Jesus says, “Father, I desire...” we must at once stop here and behold that God desires. God the eternal Word is asking God his eternal Father for something that only his Father can give him. In Genesis 1:27 we see that the creation of man in God’s own image included the woman, “In the image of God He created him; male and female he created them”. This gives us insight that Genesis 2:18-24 has implications about the nature of God. God showed man that he would be fulfilled when he had a helper comparable to him; the woman. Next, God revealed to Adam the need for fellowship with a creature of similitude with himself by bringing every creature before Adam to name. Adam realizes that he was alone and needed a companion to fulfill his own desire for unity and fellowship. This loneliness was the birthplace of desire and I believe also reflected the desire in God for another person in his own image compatible with himself. The fact that God said, it is not good for man to be alone gives us a view into the desire of God. It is not good for man to be alone because it is not good for God to be alone. He also would find fulfillment with a companion that looked like himself. Therefore God determined to make man in his own image for fellowship with himself. Ephesians 5:31-32 shows that we are on the right track with this train of thought. Paul expounds upon Genesis 2:24, “Therefore man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”. He actually says that this is about Christ and the Church. It was good according to the will of the Father that his Son should have a bride. This in fact is the desire of the Son as well. That his people (the bride) would be with him beholding his glory for eternity in divine fellowship. God wanted to extend his fellowship and the creation of man was God’s answer to his own desire for a spouse comparable to himself.

The People of God are Brought into Divine Fellowship

God is uniting his bride to himself, involving her in the shared life of the Trinity forever. There are several ways that God has invited his people into the triune fellowship. One, in the experience of love, “that the world may know that you... loved them even as you loved me.” God loves us the same way he loves himself and he revealed this through Christ. Second, The fellowship or unity of the spiritual relationship that exists in God, “I in them and you in me” shows that we are being brought into the very life and fellowship of the Trinity. Third, we are brought near in order to behold and worship forever the beauty and glory of Christ, “That they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory”. This is the most wonderful thing that God could give to any creature, for to see him is to be filled with joy unspeakable and never ending. The very desire of the Son that we would be near him and behold his Glory is also the thing that will satisfy the heart of the bride eternally. 

God Replenishes Eternal Longings with the Creation of Man
It is this longing in God for a bride that troubled my mind. God is eternally happy, he does not need anything, so how then can he possibly have longing or desire for anything? Was God the Son lonely when he asked his Father for a bride? Can God be lonely when he is with God? If God eternally exists in holy fellowship, always loving and yielding and joyful in himself then why make man? Why make man if he is satisfied without man? 
First we need to see that in order to have joy one must have desire, for happiness is essentially desire satisfied. In that case we can ask, doesn’t God fulfill the desire of God without need for man? Doesn’t he have the power to replenish his own longing? The answer to this is yes and therefore brings us into a very powerful vision of God’s nature. Only God can exist with eternal longing and yet be forever happy because he has the power to replenish his own longings at all times forever. A man on the other hand depends on God for this kind of fulfillment and without God is left in the eternal sadness of unfulfilled longing. God’s longings make room for him to be eternally full and happy for God is the only being that has the capacity to be empty and full, longing and satisfied and never in despair that for one moment he will not be able to fulfill his own eternal longings. “...the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:10).

Why Man?
Now we behold a mystery: why God created man. Not because he needed man or was unhappy or unfulfilled. No, God created man because he has the power to replenish his own longings eternally and when he thought of what would please his own heart the most it was the creation of man. God has unlimited power and can do  whatever he wants to bring himself joy forever and what he came up with was you and me. You and I are the dream of God’s heart.

Just look at John 17:24 again and see that it was an omnipotent God who could provide for the Son eternal joy by giving him the gift of his people: “they also, whom you have given me”. What is important to understand is that it is the Father that is fulfilling the Son and making him eternally happy and it is the Son that is making the Father eternally happy, therefore they are not dependent on man. God is answering God. God is fulfilling God with his most prized and thoughtful creation, for he has the power to do anything he desires, even create persons like himself; the object of his greatest affection. Imagine the Father looking upon the Son and saying “fulfill the dream of my heart” and to this the Son responds by redeeming the children of God and presenting them to him. The Son looks upon the Father and says, “Father fulfill the dream of my heart” and the Father gives him a spotless wife who will share in his eternal purpose. In order to replenish eternal desire the Father and the Son created you and me. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

God Loves Uganda: Our First Response

We feel the need to give our friends some clarity as to why we are being called homophobes and the propagators of hate on the New York Times. A more comprehensive response will be forthcoming as we are able to get a full viewing of the film.

From what Rachelle and I are seeing in this NYT clip and some other things we have listened to, the premise of the movie is deeply flawed and deceptive in how it is portraying the entire issue. For the record, we do not hate homosexuals nor condone violence against them. This should be evidenced by the fact that we so willingly welcomed Roger Ross Williams into our lives. 

One of the major flaws of the film is oversimplifying the homosexual issue in Africa and blaming American evangelicals as the primary fomenters of gay hatred. This premise completely ignores the context of African tribal cultures. It is obvious that Roger does not live here nor understand these cultures. 

IHOP-KC’s involvement and influence in Uganda is drastically overstated. They do not have a single missionary in the country that we know of. Lou Engle held “The Call” one time that had a whopping 1,000 people in attendance. IHOP-KC is simply not a major player in Uganda.

There are bigger issues here that are under fire: the nature and law of God and the gospel itself. These need a deeper discussion in their relationship to the state and inclusiveness of the church, instead of just sound bites conveniently molded into a false narrative. We love and forgive Roger and pray for his salvation.