I talked about the importance Joe Rigney’s book The Things of Earth had on me in the last post. In that post I quoted the main points of chapter 4 and in this post I will do the same for chapter 5. See that post for the reason as to why I am doing this.
“Should we enjoy everything that God richly provides? Or should we desire only God? Wrestling with these questions is at the heart of living the faithful Christian life (Pg. 97).”
There are “two complementary was of viewing God’s relationship to his gifts. The first is a comparative approach, in which God and his gifts are separated and set next to each other to determine which is more valuable (Page 97).”
“If we are thinking comparatively, then we should desire only God and not his gifts. He is worthy of all regard, all value, all love and delight and affection (Page 98).”
“The second is the integrated approach…When we love God supremely and fully, we are able to integrate our joy in God and our joy in his gifts, receiving the gifts as shafts of his glory. Supreme love for God orients our affections and orders our desires and integrates our loves. When we love God supremely, we are free to love creation as creation (and not as God). Because the divine excellence is really present in the gift, we are free to enjoy it for his sake. God’s gifts become avenues for enjoying him, beams of glory that we chase back to the source. We don’t see God and his gifts in opposition to each other, as though they are rivals. Instead, in the words of Charles Simeon, we ‘enjoy God in everything and everything in God.’ Or as Augustine prayed, ‘He loves thee too little, who loves anything together with thee, which he loves not for they sake (Page 99).'”
“The integrated approach is how we should live the bulk of our lives, and the comparative approach is a test to ensure that we maintain supreme and full love for God (Page 99).”
“A mind that is set on the things above spends an awful lot of time thinking about things on the earth. The heavenly mind-set is profoundly earthy, but it is fundamentally oriented by the glory of Christ (Page 102).”
“Rather than a momentary comparison for the sake of testing our affections, idolatry is a permanent separation for the sake of false worship. God divides things in order to gloriously reunite them. On the other hand, sin just separates (Page 103-104).”
“Sin is not in the stuff. Sin resides in human hearts, and thinning out creation just makes us thin idolaters. We exchange indulge sins for ascetic ones, but rearranging the deck of chairs on the Titanic doesn’t alter the ships path. The flesh is still steering the boat, and a true course correction will require something more fundamental than a rejection of God’s gifts (Page 107).”
Ringer then answers the looming question of how the gospel deals with the “challenges of creation, given that we are finite creatures in a world full of gifts, and rebellious sinners in a world full of potential idols (Page 111).”
- The incarnation of Jesus Christ is the greatest endorsement of the abiding goodness of creation and its capacity for amplification, transformation, and glorification.
- Jesus succeeds where Adam fails.
- On the cross, Christ draws to himself all of our idolatry and ingratitude, all of our glory exchange and sin, all of our guilt and rebellion, and he swallows it whole.
- The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the transformation of his humanity, the transition in his experience from living as a human being ‘according to the flesh’ (Rom. 1:4) to being a human being glorified according to the Spirit.
- After his resurrection, he walked with his disciples. He showed them his wounds. He broke bread and ate fish with them…the resurrection and ascension of Jesus in a real, physical, human body proclaims not only that creation is good but that it is capable of being glorified. The physical is now deeply and irrevocably spiritual.
- Through the preaching of the gospel, spiritually blind sinners are awakened to the glory of Christ in the gospel and to the glory of Christ everywhere…We are liberated from our idolatrous enslavement to created things sos that we can now freely and gladly and gloriously enjoy created things the images and echoes and sensible shafts of divine glory that they really are.
- Like Jesus, our ultimate hope is not a disembodied, immaterial existence in an invisible realm.
“In all of our present enjoyment of God’s glorious gifts, our hearts echo with the knowledge that the best is yet to come (Page 114).”