(By titling this “celebrate the residue”, I’m willing to bet that I’ve just put together a phrase that has never before been used in the whole of human history!)
For the first time in a long time, I’ve been using a commentary for my devotional reading: Paul for Everyone: The Pastoral Letters by Tom (NT) Wright. This morning, while reading from his comments on 1 Timothy 4:1-5, I thought he had some comments that would be a good addition to the discussion below on cultural relevance:
“This, in fact, is the underlying point, and it needs making again and again in almost every generation. If in doubt, read Genesis 1: God saw all that he made, and it was very good. That is the foundation of all genuine Christian (and for that matter Jewish) thinking. Anything which implies that some part of the created order is bad in itself is the first swish of the axe which will cut off the branch on which we should be sitting — the belief that the God who made the world in the first place is remaking it through Jesus and the spirit, and that we are called, not to abandon our humanity but to celebrate its rescue, redemption and remaking.”
A good friend of mine came back from a trip to the mountains this week, and he described his experience as heavenly. Few, if any, of us struggle to see God’s beauty when we are in nature. We have no need to indicate whether or not a babbling brook is ‘Godly’. In light of this, how interesting is it that we can so easily determine that a person, who is made in the image of God, can be described as ‘ungodly’?
The challenge for us, is not to determine whether or not someone is with, or without, God. Rather, it is to see the residue of God’s image in every person, and, in the words of Tom Wright, ‘celebrate its rescue, redemption and remaking’.