Talk 5: God’s Impossible People
“From barbarism to civilisation requires a century, from civilisation to barbarism needs but a day” (Colson & Pearcey, 2004, p. 19).
Just as the Jews in exile cried out may centuries ago “How can we sing the songs of the Lord in a foreign land?” (Ps 137:4) so the same questions come to us ‘How shall we live out God’s story?’ in our unique historical and cultural time.
Greg Sheridan in his book God is Good for You (2018), says that if Christians are to be successful in sharing the Gospel then there must be boldness in the unambiguous declaration of core beliefs and in practice a cultural coherence which is humanly intelligible and contains an element of beauty.
A story is told of Pompey, the great Roman General who on entering Jerusalem (1st Century BC) insisted on entering the sacred, inner chamber of the Jewish synagogue to see the Jewish god. Of course, he found nothing. Like the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s temple before it, there was no graven image of God. Pompey was infuriated with disbelief as he had no idol to put in his Roman pantheon. What was not representable was not able to be assimilated. “The God of the Jews was an utterly impossible God” (Guinness & Seel, 1992, p. 206) and intolerable to Pompey. As the grandeur of Imperial Rome collapsed, in came the impossible followers of this impossible God.
Our relationship with this impossible God who is our Creator and Redeemer means He alone is worthy of our worship and whole-hearted allegiance. His truth critiques all other worldviews – beliefs, traditions, opinions, and loyalties. For the Christian faith is a total life-system as it enables us to make sense of who we are and the world we live in.
What does this mean for Christian teachers as they fulfil their educational task in this generation? As God’s chosen children, we are to submit to the Lordship of Jesus and follow His way. The reality is that God has given us His Spirit so that we can participate in Jesus’ sovereign and saving rule over the world: his recreation project. This is the solid rock on which the mission of Christian education is built. Having been called and equipped, we must speak about truth to a generation for whom this claim is automatically dismissed and put in the shredder of deconstruction. In this context we feel the pressure of the social dualism of Biblical truth against our dominant culture where the curriculum tells the story of a closed universe.
We need to deeply immerse ourselves in the Biblical story as the authority for living. The Scriptures must be brought back from the margins to be re-established at the centre as the text for living life well and implementing the educational task.
As teachers, we need to prepare our teaching and learning content in a way that engages our students’ contemporary culture and their hearts and minds in Scriptural truth. This requires us to immerse ourselves in the study of God’s Word and professional learning that equips us to live out a Biblical worldview that contends for faith in every area of life.
This exploration of truth and the gaining of wisdom will change our students’ lives but it is a journey for the long haul.
For true wisdom, the capacity to live well is to have true knowledge of God and His world and how to live in this reality “To be wise is to know reality and then accommodate yourself to it” (Colson & Pearcey, 2004, p. 16).
Our modern global world is not so much divided by geographical boundaries but by people’s deeply held religious and cultural beliefs as expressed in their worldviews. The study of history reveals to us the dominant belief systems as they have ebbed and flowed through the ages.
The very process of designing learning for others that flows from one’s deeply held Biblical beliefs is indeed a picture of redemption at work. When God’s truth informs the mind, inspires the imagination, and moves the heart it brings cultural renewal.
We must recover our calling to redeem minds as an act of discipleship where our students can be equipped with the Word of God to participate in the great cosmic struggle between conflicting worldviews.
Let’s be God’s Impossible People.
“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:130)
Grace and Peace
The Excellence Centre
- Colson, C. & Pearcey, N. (2004). How Now Shall We Live? Tyndale Publishing House
- Sheridan, G. (2018). God is good for you. Allen & Unwin
- Guinness, O. & Seel, J. (1992). No God but God – Breaking with the Idols of Our Age. Moody Publishers