In my last post, I reflected on how our experience and our culture biases us toward “the new.” There I reminded us that Christianity centered around the person of Jesus. And it is the very Spirit of Christ that comes to those who put their trust in God, transforming them into part of God’s new creation.
The thing that continues to amaze me about the narrative of Scripture is that in Jesus, we find God’s promises to Israel becoming true for the whole world in a new way. The good news is not something that came out of the blue. Jesus did not come out of nowhere. He came as the climax of God’s long history working through the people of Israel. Biblical scholar N. T. Wright puts it well. This the the paradox that we meet throughout the New Testament: “God acts completely unexpectedly– as he always said he would” (See How God Became King, 75, and other places).
I talked a little bit more about how this old, old story works in my sermon for Sunday, July 3. In my sermon, I picked up on the thread of Abraham, who first appears on the scene in Genesis 11-12. (If you haven’t read much of the Old Testament lately, I highly, highly recommend making your way through Genesis. For the most part, it’s pretty easy going, AND you’ll have a much easier time understanding a lot of the New Testament.) Abraham is mentioned a lot in the New Testament. His name is used 73 times! Many of those occurrences are in the context of how the promises that God made to Abraham have finally come to their fulfillment through Christ and the Holy Spirit. God’s plan seemed to get derailed so many times, but God remained faithful to the covenant, even when God’s people were unfaithful.
Jesus taught his followers to expect God to work unexpectedly– as he always said he would. In fact, this is what characterizes the life of someone led by the Spirit:
The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.John 3:8
Instead of being tossed around by whatever cultural winds are blowing, Christians are to be people tossed around by the Spirit of God. The Spirit is always pushing God’s people into new places. When the wind comes and you have your sails up, you’re going to get pushed to a new place. Of course, you can’t always tell where the wind will push you! The amazing thing, though, is that when God is directing your movement day after day, it doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing. You’re in God’s will, and that’s the best possible place to be.