Tuesday, September 8, 2009


If God has invested his creative energy and delight in fashioning me, then I have value, unity, identity. The disparate parts--the evangelical, the intellectual, the charismatic, the liberal, the goofball, the sober contemplative, the sinner, etc.--are fit together in the knowledge, worship and service of Yahweh as creator and of Jesus of Nazareth as lord and friend. He, by mercy and with joy, integrates me and infuses me with cosmic significance.

I consider a woman, 24, a refugee of Darfur, a mother, a Muslim, a rape victim, survivor to a murdered family, starving, dehydrated. I see only chaos: random, grandiose, socio-historical forces as diverse as post-colonialism and sub-Saharan geography all acting upon her blindly in a cruel amalgamation of time and place. And thus, given that such a woman probably exists, I question the God-givenness of my own time and place. Might I not be more than the causal product of those very forces which wreak suffering upon her--the suffering of billions? A product of a product of a product.

In the chaos of injustice, "I" am nothing.

I refuse to solve this problem with the retort, "God is in control." To do so one must be resigned to Candide's "best of all possible worlds"--the one we see with waking eyes. No! I say no! And no again!

This cruelly put upon woman is made in God's image as I am. Jesus cares for her well-being at least as much as the survival of my identity and sanity. The Christian response, then, is not of resignation to the merely apparent injustice of the creator's implacable will, but of moral outrage and divinely oriented empathy. Our God loves that woman--something must be done!!

Those grand, cruel forces at work blaspheme and dishonor the glory of god which fills and will fill the whole earth. They do not constitute basic reality, nor do they have any agreement with the intentions, desires, designs or actions of our creator god.

Thus global and historical injustice does not undo my identity and story. Rather, it pushes me headlong towards the worship of Jesus and participation in his victorious mission over and against the forces of darkness. They are the wilderness into which the Spirit drives us, and no status-quo-baptizing, justice-perverting theology can be allowed to quench that charisma.

"You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God and they will reign on the earth."
~Revelation 5:9, 10


Cassidy said...

So thought provoking, Mike. You seem to reconcile some of the most troublesome tensions and realities of today. Thanks for blogging.

Mike Rad said...

You're welcome. I was reflecting on the way the Lord was taking care of me and knitting together my "disparate parts" and then I doubted because of global injustice. And then I thought--no, they're made in his image too! So I asked myself "What does that imply?" and ended up with good news. :)