Picturing new heavens/earth

How to you picture the new heavens and new earth? Here’s how Aussie artists responded to the challenge.

What do you imagine when you hear of God restoring his creation, as a new heavens and a new earth?

Mandorla Art Awards challenged Australian artists to realize that image. Here are some of the results, displayed at Turner Galleries (Perth) in June 2018. Continue reading “Picturing new heavens/earth”

Humanity untwisted: the joy of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12)

What would the world look like if God untwisted everything that’s wrong with the way we are running the world, and restored it as he intended? Jesus describes the joy.

Open Matthew 5:3-12.

The Beatitudes are revolutionary. They’re cameos of what happens when God turns the world back up the right way, overturning evil, restoring his reign. Release from oppression brings exuberant joy. Those who’ve missed out receive the kingdom. Those who’ve grieved receive comfort. The powerless receive the earth. Those who’ve yearned for justice are finally satisfied.

The heart of this joy is the untwisting of our humanity. All the injustice and power struggles and grief and poverty stem from abusing the power God gave us to rule his creation. We were designed to image his character by managing his world. Instead people have grasped his power and wielded it violently, destructively, oppressively. But all this evil is untwisted as God, in Jesus, brings us back under his reign.

So Jesus proclaims great joy on those who are genuinely human. Blessed are those who stop revolting, and reflect the image of our heavenly sovereign instead.

He gives us four cameos of what that looks like. It’s treating each other with mercy, so people see God’s mercy (5:7). It’s acting out of a pure heart, so people can see God rather than our image (5:8). It’s working for peace, so people see the family resemblance (5:9).

But there’s a problem with Jesus’ approach. Continue reading “Humanity untwisted: the joy of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12)”

The other side of blessed (Matthew 5:3-6)

Jesus proclaimed the poor, the mourning, and the powerless to be winners. So who are the losers?

Open Matthew 5:3-6 and Luke 6:20-26.

When blessing comes to one group, another group misses out. Jewish wisdom-teaching always worked like this: announcing blessings for those who obeyed Torah also implied woes for those who disobeyed.

So when Jesus said, “Blessings on the poor …” did he also mean “and woe to the rich?” When he said, “Blessings on the grieving …” did he also mean “and woe to those who are content?” Continue reading “The other side of blessed (Matthew 5:3-6)”