In my first two years on campus at the University of Ottawa, I held a series of conversations with students asking for their reactions to the Christian Reformed Contemporary Testimony, Our World Belongs to God. The participants included both Christians of a variety of denominations and non-Christians who were willing to give me some honest feedback while reading the testimony with me. I am very thankful for their time and their responses. In response to these listening conversations I will be writing a series of reflective devotions that I will share on this blog. Today is the first of these devotions. To those who read them, I hope they serve their intended purpose, which is to reflect upon what it is that Christians believe. I welcome your feedback and thoughts, not only on the devotions, but also upon the testimony of Our World Belongs to God. Your responses can help feed into some of the other projects in the works. Thanks for reading. ~ Sid Ypma ~~~~~~~
Suggested Scripture Reading: Job 40:1-41:11
Everything under heaven belongs to me. Job 41:11b
Our World Belongs to God – Preamble Article 1:
As followers of Jesus Christ, living in this world— which some seek to control, and others view with despair—we declare with joy and trust: Our world belongs to God!
In the 1970’s and 1980’s there was classic Kool-Aid television ad in which the Kool-Aid man would break through a wall and say “Oh Yeah!” It was the triumphant moment when this large pitcher of overly sweet synthetic tasting swill would save the day. This breakthrough “Oh yeah!” moment is what first comes to mind when reading the opening statement of the preamble for the Testimony Our World Belongs to God. The exclamation statement at the end seems to highlight the intended intonation of this statement. But we must be careful to read that exclamation point correctly.
Many people can relate to the notion that there are those that seek to control the world. Others can relate to a sense of despair and even cynicism concerning this world. But to declare with joy and trust that our world belongs to God takes a great deal of faith. One can open the newspaper this morning and read about war in Ukraine, ISIS competing with al-Qaeda for headlines, referendums on sovereignty, and cheap shot comments by politicians aimed at tearing down their opponents. All of these headlines speak to a determined desire by humanity to have some kind of control and power. But the bold (and somewhat off putting comment for someone who doesn’t follow Jesus), that declares our world belongs to God is actually a statement of humility. From a testimony standpoint the exclamation point at the end of this first statement might make sense, but within the context of newspaper headlines that show a barrage of exclamatory human exploits aimed at personal power, to declare our world belongs to God must be heard as an expression of humble submissiveness. We’re not in control…and we’re good with that…and when we breathe it in, it gives us a great deal of comfort…exclamation point.
To some, as has already been alluded to, the statement that our world belongs to God sounds arrogant. We must concede that when one listens to some of the public media voices of those who claim to follow Jesus and when one looks back at the terrible sins that have been committed in the name of Jesus, it might be easy to brush aside the confidence in God of a follower of Jesus. But to do so ignores so much more of what the narrative of Christianity provides in understanding the world and our place in it. Following Jesus is a journey and for those on the road this declaration comes from an honest place that admits a need for someone other than us (me) to lead the way.
Lord, it is so easy to live our day as though we were in complete control of it. And then all hell seems to break loose around us and we realize our helplessness. Help us to follow you with joy and trust and keep despair and cynicism from creeping in. Amen.