... and chairs

The Bible is a remarkable book. Written by dozens of authors. Utilising heaps of different genre(narrative, letters, proverbs...). And the writing takes place over hundreds of years. So diverse!BUT the story from Genesis to Revelation is just the one story. It is God's story. It is God's way of making sense of the world. It provides 'the true story of the whole world' (Tom Wright). It is God's worldview. It is a view of the world which we need to grow into sharing with him. It needs to become the lens through which we live all of life.

My final message with these young adults over Easter raised this issue of worldview. Following a few paragraphs in a book by John Stott, I suggested that this diverse, but single, story we know as the Bible can be summed up in four words: the good, the bad, the new, the perfect. The story has four chapters...

The 'good' captures all the richness of Genesis 1 & 2. Design. Order. Purpose. The relationships: within the Godhead, God and humans, male and female, humanity and world... The Image of God. It is a couple of chapters packed with concentrated truths all pointing towards the goodness of the original design.

The 'bad' captures Gen 3 and beyond (right into the present day, in fact) and the stain of sin. Human beings make bad choices: 'those made by God like God and for God, begin to live without God.' Evil. Guilt. Death. Suffering. Alienation. Confusion. Meaninglessness. 'Groaning' of creation. The relationships are broken. Everything gets 'out of sync'. The Old Testament is full of contracts being made between God and humans - but none of them can do the job.

The 'new' is needed. It arrives in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus. The restoration begins! New birth. New covenant. New people. New creation. The impact of the bad is reversed through the work of the cross: reconciling, justifying, redeeming, cleansing ... (on and on the rich vocabulary flows). With Jesus' ascension to heaven, the Spirit is left behind to continue this work.

But what has already begun in Christ does not come fully until the 'perfect' comes. This is our certain hope. A time of no tears, no death, no pain, no decay, no brokenness ... This is what keeps us longing and waiting and trusting and groaning and thirsting. Jesus will return to judge the world and restore creation.

That is the true story of the world. This is the gospel. It is God's worldview! It needs to be one we share. I like to use four chairs to illustrate this. Each named with one of the four words. Take any issue you like (for example, self-esteem) - you can go and sit and linger in each chair, considering the issue from each chair's perspective. Then when the chairs are taken together we get close to God's full perspective on the issue - and the one we need to have: a biblical worldview.

I like to play a few games with the chairs. For example, taking individual chairs away - each one in turn. How are these 'three-chaired' stories inadequate? Where are they present among young adults today? Or, the danger of getting stuck in one chair... Or, in which directions do the chairs face in relation to each other...

Anyhow - that is a longish (sorry!) summary of my burden for Jesus-following young adults today. They face such massive challenges...
ONE door: my burden for their accurate understanding of salvation and conversion. TWO axes: my burden which longs to see them keep tensions alive as they live for Jesus in this world. THREE medicine balls (or really the genius of the triangle): my burden associated with the way they form their identity - 'you do not know who you are until you know Whose you are'. FOUR chairs: my burden to see them live life through a distinctively biblical worldview, thereby sharing with God (their Maker and Redeemer, afterall!!) his way of making sense of the world.

nice chatting



Andrew said…
I really like the idea of the 4 chairs and the invitation to linger in each of them. And I love the idea of taking away one chair and considering the inadequecy of the gospel message without it. Will be pondering this some more over the next few days. Great stuff, thanks Paul.
Sean du Toit said…
So you finally made it to the blogosphere? Yahoo. Great to see your blog, and great to hear you using your four chairs. I still occassionally use your Four Quadrants about grace and truth. Will be keeping an eye on this blog. Thanks for being so faithful. ciao, sean D. [past student @Carey, if you remember!]
Paul Windsor said…
Hey Sean - of course I remember you well and stumbled across your blog recently. Keep in touch
Sarah said…
Hi Paul
I enjoy reading your blog, way 2 go always gives me something to think about. Thanks for your input.
God Bless
sarah Crocombe
Scott said…
Yay for John Stott, and yay for Biblical Theology. Thanks for the call to understand history from God's perspective

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