earth giftA while back I was thinking about the whole idea of the “real” world. When facing a situation in which we feel unable to break the rules of this world, we often resign ourselves to the fact that that’s just the way things are. I get the sense that the older I grow, the more I’m supposed to simply accept that it is the way it is, and that’s just the way it is. I confess to not being very good at this. At all. And the fact that I’m not very good at this is a constant source of frustration, as well as a covert temptation to the worst kind of pride. So at the risk of this kind of pride, which I hope by making overt I can defuse a bit, let me admit quite openly that I think I’m right not to be very good at accepting things as they are. Things are what they are, no doubt, and we must acknowledge this, but acknowledgement and acceptance are different beasts.

To accept things as they are would be to concede ourselves to a certain way of looking at things – the world’s. We are not called to see things as they are, but to see them as God has promised them to be. We are not called to live in the world as it is, but in the world as God has promised to make it. The church is called to be a sign and foretaste of God’s coming peaceable reign. We are – or at least we are supposed to be – a preview, a prototype, of a world made new. As Yoder put it, the church is “the new world on the way.” Perhaps we ought to think of ourselves as a promissory note from God to the world. God has promised to remake the world, to heal it, to save it in the largest sense, and we have been constituted by the Spirit as a preview of that salvation, a guarantee of things to come. So don’t accept the world as it is. Acknowledge it, but by no means accept it. The way things are isn’t the way things will be, and so by the Spirit the way things are isn’t the way things must be. We have been saved, freed, liberated from the powers that determine the way things are. We have the freedom to be different, and in our difference to offer ourselves as suffering signs of God’s promised salvation.