Do You Understand the World?
Here's how to interpret your world with clarity.
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
How do you interpret life? When your world doesn’t seem to make sense, what gives you clarity?
What do you use to understand your circumstances, especially when things get rough?
A few years ago, I discovered a template (conceived by Michael Metzger) that attempts to put into words what seems to be true of us all.
The basic premise is that everyone on the planet shares a kind of behavioral DNA, a pattern for how we view life: that we all imagine life the way it ought to be, the way it is, the way it can be, and the way it will be.
We see this pattern in everyday life and in movies, novels, songs, and other forms of art. But this pattern is also found in Scripture.
The way life ought to be
We imagine the way life ought to be because of Creation. We were designed for a perfect relationship with God and other people.
The way life is
We recognize the way it is as not quite right because of Corruption: we live in a fallen, broken world. Our current reality doesn’t line up with God’s original intent.
The way life can be
When we think about the way life can be, it’s because of Redemption. Deep down we long for renewal, for freedom. Through Jesus, God offers a solution for our fallen condition.
The way life will be
And finally, we dream about the way life will be because of what the Bible calls Restoration. One day, God will restore everything in creation to its original intent. He will make all things new.
So ought, is, can, and will is simply a way of using secular language to talk about Creation, Corruption, Redemption, and Restoration.
Seeing the Gospel in Heartbreak
About a month ago, my friend Tami Lewis (44 years old and mom to five boys) went to the hospital with a persistent cough. While there, she was diagnosed with cancer in her lungs, liver, and colon. When thinking about her situation, I was reminded of this template, which God used to help me interpret these awful circumstances:
Tami ought to be at home right now, making lunch for her boys, reading to them, playing with them, cuddling with them. Instead, she’s in a hospital bed, her body full of cancer. The way it is — reality — is not the way it ought to be. Now, what can happen? God can heal her. I don’t know if he will, but he can. We can pray for her healing. We can listen. We can weep with those who weep. We can provide support and encouragement for her family. And where does our hope come from? Well, we know that no matter what happens in the next few weeks, one day she will have a perfect body. She will be in perfect relationship with God, her family, and her friends. There will be no more pain, or disease, or sorrow.
This framework, which is the gospel in its essence, not only helps us make sense of the world, but it also helps foster spiritual conversations and allows us to share the hope that is in us.
What are the things you’re struggling to make sense of? How does the framework “ought-is-can-will” fit into those situations?
P.S. Tami died recently. And while it’s difficult to comprehend why this happened, we can take comfort from the fact that she knew Jesus: the Creator, Redeemer, and Restorer. And that one day, He will make all things new.
Used with permission by Global Media Outreach from Neil Downey. This article was first published on CRU.org.
Pray this week:
Lord, I know things are not as they should be. I know this broken world is only temporary, and that you can and will fix it. I know I have an amazing eternity ahead with you. Show me how to trust you even with brokenness around me. Amen.
How is your life going right now, and how could it be going if you fully trusted God?